The Department of Ecology's (Ecology) Central Regional Office in Yakima plans to hire about 60 teens throughout Central Washington this summer to help clean up area roadsides, parks and recreation areas. Ecology Youth Corps (EYC) members also will learn how to better care for the environment.

Youths, ages 14 to 17, who live in Central Washington counties, can apply through March 30, 2012, to work with one of Ecology's EYC crews cleaning up litter this summer. Crews will work Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., in four-week sessions. Crew locations include Goldendale, Richland, Sunnyside, Toppenish and Yakima.

Sessions this year run from June 25 through July 20 and again from July 23 through August 16. Participants will be paid $9.04 an hour.

Funding for the EYC comes from a dedicated account called the Waste Reduction, Recycling and Model Litter Control Account. The account is funded by a voter-approved tax on items related to the litter problem. This year, because of the state's lower revenues, the program has been reduced.

Over the past several years, Ecology's litter program, which includes the Ecology Youth Corps, has lost about a third of its budget because of the downturn in the economy. This will result in hiring about 100 fewer youths this year statewide.

Applications are available through area school counselors and online. More information is available on the Ecology website, or by calling Rod Hankinson in Ecology's Yakima office at (509) 454-7209.