Every year, Bay Nature Institute selects three people whose extraordinary work on behalf of conservation and environmental education in the Bay Area warrants special recognition and appreciation. This year’s Local Hero for Youth Engagement is Javier Ochoa Reyes, project coordinator of Groundwork Richmond. This award recognizes an individual, 25 years old or younger, who is making significant contributions in the fields of natural history, stewardship of the natural world, conservation action, and/or environmental education.
Our three Bay Nature “Local Heroes” for 2015 were chosen by Bay Nature Institute board and staff from more than four dozen nominations submitted by members of the Bay Area conservation community. They’ll be honored at our Annual Awards Dinner on March 22, 2015. >> Learn more and RSVP
Javier Ochoa Reyes is a binational Mexican-American who was born in San Pablo, CA to parents who had immigrated from Mexico several years earlier. When he was five years old, the family returned to their small hometown village in Mexico. In 2008, when he turned 16, Javier decided to return to California on his own in search of a better education and greater opportunities. As a student at Richmond High, Javier signed up to be tutored as part of the Straight Talk on Prison (S.T.O.P.) program and eventually became a tutor in the program himself. Through his work with S.T.O.P., Javier came into contact with several local environmental initiatives. One was the Sunshine Organics community gardening project, a public-private partnership that helps youth in Richmond learn how to grow healthy food. Another was Groundwork Richmond, which recruits and trains teens to work on projects benefitting the community, such as the Richmond Greenway, a 3.5 mile long trail that is bringing nature back into the heart of this East Bay city. For two years, Javier brought teens from S.T.O.P. to work on the Greenway. Impressed by his leadership, Groundwork Richmond hired this charismatic and dedicated young man to be its program coordinator. Now Javier is responsible for partnering with a range of community youth groups to restore two segments of the Greenway in east Richmond, clearing away brush and trash, planting trees, and creating miniparks.
At the same time, Javier is a student at Contra Costa College working toward his dream of becoming a civil engineer. His goal is to transfer to a four-year college, get a degree, and then return to help rebuild a vibrant city through building green infrastructure. In November 2014, Javier will receive Groundwork Richmond’s “Rusty Spike” award, along with outgoing Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, for invaluable contributions to the city and the community.
>> Meet our other 2015 Local Heroes:
Conservation Action Award
Ralph Benson, Sonoma Land Trust
Environmental Education Award
Julia Clothier, Point Reyes National Seashore Association
Our three Local Heroes will be honored at Bay Nature’s Annual Awards Dinner on Sunday, March 22. For more details on the event and to purchase tickets, visit:
The Bay Nature Institute is a Berkeley-based nonprofit media organization dedicated to exploring, celebrating, and protecting the natural world of the San Francisco Bay Area, in print, online, in the field, on the air.