What do a retired corrections officer, a former journalist, a teacher, and an indigenous artist have in common? They are all part of the first cohort of G3 Conservation Corps members of the Guam Green Growth (G3) initiative.
The University of Guam announced the 12 members of the G3 Conservation Corps at a program orientation last Wednesday at UOG. Following the orientation, the group participated in its first village cleanup in Mangilao.
Last month, the university embarked on an island-wide recruitment process for the program. The program received hundreds of applicants, and 12 were selected through a comprehensive review process for the five-month program.
From June to November, the G3 Conservation Corps members will participate in workforce development training and activities focused on island beautification, circular economy and recycling, invasive species removal, energy efficiency, and agriculture and aquaculture.
At the orientation, UOG Center for Island Sustainability Director Austin Shelton said the program is aligned with the current island-wide efforts to achieve sustainability and other United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“This is one of our implementation projects for the overall Guam Green Growth initiative, which was established in 2019 in partnership with the Office of the Governor and the University of Guam to implement — in locally and culturally effective ways — the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. This G3 Conservation Corps program is meant to prepare our community for the emerging green economy. Sustainability is an important component that we want to make sure is part of the conversation and the action for the economic diversification of our island,” Shelton said.
Lusech Ngirakesau, a recent UOG business administration graduate and G3 Conservation Corps member, said the program would benefit Small-Island Developing States, or SIDS. Coming from Palau, a small island nation, he said he sees the importance of the program for participants to acquire skills and develop a sustainability mindset.
Meanwhile, Madeline Bradley, the youngest G3 Conservation Corps member at age 18, said the program is an amazing start to promote sustainable action.
“For the next nine years, we have to conserve our world, basically,” she said, speaking of the 2030 target date for the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. “But it is a great start for Guam to realize that we need to start doing things for Guam a lot faster. And we need to do things for Guam more efficiently. I feel that this is going to be a wake-up call for a lot of villages and a lot of village mayors — just people in general.”
UOG President Thomas W. Krise, in the past, had described the program as an engine of innovation developing tangible solutions to sustainability challenges in our island region. He said growing the island’s skilled workforce is a solution to support the diversification of the island economy.
At Wednesday’s launch, Krise emphasized the program’s importance as Guam transitions out of the pandemic and recovers its economy.
“This is a great time to be pressing the kinds of things that the G3 initiative is pressing across the board in terms of economic activity, sustainability, education. It is really important to build that capacity in people to think about sustainability, the circular economy, and the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
The G3 Conservation Corps program is made possible through the Recycling Revolving Fund following approval from the Guam Environmental Protection Agency Board of Directors.
Aligned with the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, the Guam Green Growth Initiative, or G3, cultivates an ecosystem for transformative action to achieve a sustainable, prosperous, and equitable future for Guam. The University of Guam facilitates the island-wide initiative in cooperation with the Office of the Governor of Guam and the 99 members of the G3 Working Groups, representing all sectors of society.