IwanttohelppeopleinArvinbygivingthemasense ofpower.ThingshaveimprovedsinceIwasgrowingup there.I’veseenit.AndIwanttobeapartofthat. Growing up in Arvin, California in the 1970s and 80s, Jerry Tinoco was groomed for hard work. Alongside relatives, he picked and packed grapes and cherries. And on occasion, he overheard talk of“pesticide drift”and“arsenic contamination,” terms that made greater sense to him as he got older. “You hear today about Arvin having the worst air quality in the nation,”Jerry says. Jerry left Arvin to attend the University of California at Berke- ley, where he studied environmental science. He became adept at lab work and technical research. The Periodic Table and the intricacies of genetics and evolution opened up a world that might have led him to a career in research. The relationship between what he was learning, however, and where he’d come from was clear. Soon, Jerry was back in Arvin, ready to use his academic training to make a difference.“I really wanted to go back. I like living in a small town,”he says.“And I wanted to help.” At first, he couldn’t find a job. Eventually, he volunteered at the grassroots organization Committee for a Better Arvin, working on issues like how to get a community garden built and how to clean up the region’s water – arsenic con- tamination is prevalent. A year later, he found himself working shoulder-to-shoul- der with RCAC staff doing outreach to promote the Agua4All program, which increases access to and con- sumption of safe drinking water. Program staff installed more than 80 water bottle filling stations in South Kern, including Arvin. The Arvin stations include point-of-use filtration to remove arsenic from the water, providing safe drinking water to more than 5,600 students and community residents. It was during the Agua4All project implementation that RCAC saw Jerry’s potential. In September 2016, he readily accepted a job offer from RCAC as a rural development specialist in training. “I became their‘boots on the ground,’”Jerry says with a good laugh. Since being hired, he’s signed on to take a water operator course, and he continues to look for ways to learn from his RCAC colleagues – skills that he can use to serve his and other rural California communities. “I want to help people in Arvin by giving them a sense of power,”Jerry says.“Things have improved since I was growing up there. I’ve seen it. And I want to be a part of that.” Jerry Tinoco