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City to seek volunteers to clean up parks
• Adopt-A-Park program adopted by City Council
Smyrna Park clean up
City officials are hopeful that citizen groups, like Central Valley Christian Academy students seen here in January cleaning up Smyrna Park, will volunteer for park trash pickup and weed pulling. - photo by Jeff Benziger

The city of Ceres is hopeful that citizens and groups will step up and help extend limited staffing resources by volunteering for its Adopt-A-Park program. The Ceres City Council on Monday finalized program guidelines that will allow citizens and groups to rid Ceres parks of trash to help stretch the city’s limited parks employee resources.

In December Vice Mayor Linda Ryno asked the City Council to set up the program. The idea isn’t a new one, in fact, and had been proposed 13 years ago as part of a Code Enforcement implementation plan but shelved when the city laid off staff during the economic downturn.

The program allows individuals, schools, scout, senior, youth, business and church groups to volunteer to pick up litter, rake leaves, pull weeds, report park hazards, and sweep courts and pathways in the city’s 13 parks. The citywide volunteer program will recruit and train residents to assist in the general care and maintenance of parks. Groups will be asked to commit to cleaning up their chosen park once per month for six months; or participate in a one-day Good Neighbor Day cleanup.

In March City Manager Toby Wells said the council could craft the program as it wished and after he presented the structure in March, Ryno suggested the requirements seemed too restrictive. Ryno wanted signs placed in parks to name the volunteers or groups taking care of it.

She pushed for the Adopt-a-Park concept after she and her husband, former Ceres Police Sgt. Sam Ryno, found the park named in his honor to be plagued with weeds and tall grass for lack of enough parks employees to do the work.

“I think there are a lot of people in Ceres who would jump on the opportunity to go out and clean up their neighborhood park,” said Ryno earlier this year.

Volunteers will receive one orientation session by public works staff for volunteers as to not consume a lot of staff time.

It is proposed that the program give volunteers:

• An official Certificate of Adoption;

• An Adopt-A-Park T-shirt (while supplies last);

• An invitation to an annual Recognition Event;

• An adoption plaque with the adopter’s name on it, which will be posted at the adopter’s site after 60 volunteer reported hours. This will reinforce a sense of responsibility and pride in the volunteers.

Wells said there would be a small cost, such as the cost of garbage bags and other materials.

Groups wanting to participate will need to submit an application at least two days prior to the first start of scheduled clean-ups, and submit their proposed cleanup dates. Minors must be at least 12 and supervised by an adult at a ratio of 5 to one. Recognition to groups will be offered at City Council meetings, on the Adopt-A-Park website, on social media, in the city recreation guide and on a sign at the adopted park site. Applications are available online at or by calling 538-5628.