Photos of the Month - September 2017

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps social pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from September 2017.




A
meriCorps NCCC


AmeriCorps NCCC



Knox County CAC AmeriCorps



Canyon Country Youth Corps



Canyon Country Youth Corps

 


American Conservation Experience (ACE) with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke at Great Smoky Mountains National Park for NPS 101st Birthday (taken August 25) - courtesy of DOI
 


American Conservation Experience (ACE) with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke at Great Smoky Mountains National Park for NPS 101st Birthday (taken August 25) - courtesy of DOI



Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and U.S. Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield - courtesy of DOI
 


Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa and AmeriCorps NCCC with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in Houston
 


Chairman Steve Daines (R-MT) and Ranking Member Mazie Hirono of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks with John Leong, CEO of Kupu. Mr. Leong testified at a hearing on engaging the next, more diverse generation of park stewards and users.
 


Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast



Conservation Legacy



Conservation Legacy (AZCC)



EarthCorps



Greater Valley Conservation Corps



Greening Youth Foundation



Limitless Vistas, Inc.



Montana Conservation Corps



Nevada Conservation Corps



Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - NM



Rocky Mountain Youth Corps



Rocky Mountain Youth Corps



Southwest Conservation Corps



Utah Conservation Corps



Utah Conservation Corps



Utah Conservation Corps


 

Corpsmember Profile: Breonnie King - Montgomery County Conservation Corps


 

Before finding her place at Montgomery County Conservation Corps (MCCC), twenty-one-year-old Breonnie King bounced between jobs in the food industry, retail, and health and wellness. As Bre describes it, she was “all over the place.” Without any prior experience in the environmental world, MCCC would have a huge impact on her.

Through MCCC’s GED program, Bre had a new outlook on life. In this program, youth and young adults can earn their GED while exploring green careers and learning conservation-related job skills. What attracted Bre the most to working in the environment was the idea she could create change and have a positive impact. As a participant in MCCC, Bre’s main goal was to earn her GED; she never expected to fall in love with the outdoors. As a child, Bre did not enjoy nature.

“Playing in the dirt and with bugs wasn’t my thing,” she said.

Because of her work, Bre views herself as an advocate for the outdoors and states her work (invasive species removal) at Dumbarton Oaks has opened her eyes to the impact a couple people can make overtime. However, as an African American woman, Bre has also experienced the role privilege can play in the outdoors.

“When I was younger, a lot of people kind of set out what I should be doing. ‘You can sing and you can dance and you can play sports,’” said Bre. “That’s where a lot of people put African Americans: in a box of what we care about and what is important to us. If it’s not in the music, or entertainment, or sports industry, we don’t have visibility.”

When Bre realized, the conservation field lacked people of color, it resonated with her. She is happy and proud to provide visibility for not only women, but African Americans. She recounts, “I love seeing the looks on people’s face when I’m on the job, it’s rewarding and empowering to see women who are certified in the field.”

Overtime, Bre’s love for the outdoors grew more and more; she enlisted family and friends to get outdoors more. As a Crew leader with MCCC she has enjoyed the opportunity to inspire young adults around her. Prior to her service, she never knew she could join environmental or conservation organizations, but she now has the confidence to put herself out there and pursue a career in this field. She believes MCCC has given her the know-how to tackle challenges effectively and efficiently.

“I can work in an industry where leaps and bounds can be made.”

During her time at the Corps, Bre enjoyed doing and seeing something new each day. From working on solar panels, to working with invasive plant removal, Bre woke up each day not knowing what would transpire.

Bre also received many certifications that she uses daily. She explains, “A biker was hit by a car right in front of me. Because of MCCC, I had the certification to know what to do in that situation. I could potentially save someone’s life.”

Currently, Bre has applications pending with the Student Conservation Association, programs listed on the Service Year Exchange, and AmeriCorps. There are so many things she wants to do. She states, “I just want to serve.”

With so many things on her plate, Bre also wants to attend to school to study International Relations. When asked about her dream job she states, “I don’t even know if there is a title for it. I love speaking, getting people involved, and doing a lot of outreach to people about green jobs and letting them know these things are out here. I don’t have a specific dream job. I like to do so much. I’m kind of a jack of all trades. That’s the beauty of this industry, you don’t have to stick to one field.”

She advises young people who are interested in this work to, “stick with it, don’t be afraid to try something new.” 

Photos of the Month - July 2017

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps social pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from July 2017.




American Conservation Experience



Ancestral Lands



Anchorage Park Foundation



Civicorps



EcoServants



Greater Valley Conservation Corps



Greencorps Chicago



Montgomery County Conservation Corps



Nevada Conservation Corps



PowerCorps PHL




St. Bernard Project



SEEDS



Southwest Conservation Corps



Utah Conservation Corps (ft. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell)


Vermont Youth Conservation Corps




Washington Conservation Corps

California Conservation Corps Veterans Fisheries Program


Corps play an essential role in helping preserve our waterways. In 2016 alone, Corps restored 2,551 miles of waterway.

We're recognizing California Conservation Corps' and NOAA for their Veterans Fishery Program. Learn about how this partnership expands opportunities for Veterans and helps improve aquatic habitats.



In partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, California Conservation Corps (CCC) Veterans Corps began their fisheries program in 2012. The program started in Northern California with hopes to expand to Southern California by 2014. 

The goal of the program is to address two national priorities: 1) support and promote job opportunities for veterans; and 2) protect and restore endangered species. 

The Veterans Corps fisheries program is unique from other Veterans Corps in that it provides post-9/11 veterans opportunities to build their skills and gain work experience by restoring habitat for endangered salmon and steelhead. The Corps participants conduct research and monitor the species in their natural habitats. Many other Veterans Corps programs across the country focus primarily on forestry work and wilderness firefighting. 

Due to low funding and limited staff, NOAA Fisheries depends heavily on the CCC Veterans Corps to aid in salmon and steelhead recovery. Veterans are mentored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC), the U.S. Forest Service, and local non-profits. Veterans and partners work on improvement projects identified by NOAA’s Fisheries’ salmon and steelhead recovery plans and gain knowledge about the complex needs of aquatic habitats. 

Since 2013, veterans have assisted with 133 restoration projects. Veterans constructed temporary fishways at the mouths of 20 tributaries, allowing threatened salmon access to cold water within the Klamath River; constructed off-channel habitats to provide crucial overwintering habitat for coho salmon; and deconstructed and modified fish passages to allow endangered southern California steelhead access to upstream spawning habitat. 

“Collectively, all the Veterans within this program have surveyed more than 423 miles of stream for juvenile fish and more than 2,122 miles of stream for spawning adult fish. They have also assessed 122 miles of stream habitat,” said Dana Howard, CCC Communications Director. “This monitoring helps guide future management and restoration decisions that will pave the way for species recovery.” 

Through the partnership between NOAA and the CCC, veterans receive on-the-ground training and have the chance to work side-by-side with fisheries biologists and experts. With this knowledge and experience, veterans have a stake in the competitive work pool and can find permanent employment in environmental and natural resource fields. 

NOAA and CCC credit veterans and the environment as “two of the nation’s most valuable resources.” Howard states, “By providing the training and skills necessary to pursue a career in the natural resources, this program helps young veterans transition to civilian life and continue serving our country in a way that also fills a critical need for improving our fisheries and watersheds…Veterans gain skills by developing real-world experience in natural resources fields encompassing fisheries biology, habitat restoration, project development, and many other areas. In addition, veterans in the program are eligible to receive college tuition and a $5,000 AmeriCorps education award.” 

The Veteran Corps is currently searching for funding and partners to continue sustaining the program, not only for the environment but for the veterans as well. Over a 10-year period, NOAA and CCC hope to 

establish secure funding for the program totaling $4.4M, or $440,000 per year, to employ 12 veterans annually. With this effort, placement sites would be at CCC centers throughout the state. 

NOAA and CCC have discussed expanding the program throughout California to areas including California’s Central Valley and the area between Mendocino County and Monterey County, as well as further south into southern California.

Moving Forward Initiative - What it is and What to Expect

"Moving Forward, Together"

 

The Work
Launched by The Corps Network (TCN) in the spring of 2017 through a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant, the Moving Forward Initiative is designed to identify, examine, and address unconscious bias and structural racism impacting the Corps movement. The goal is to expand career exposure and increase employment in conservation and resource management for youth and young adults of color.

TCN describes our work in racial equity as a journey. The start of this journey is the development of a foundation of knowledge on which to examine racism in the United States and understand our own personal and professional connections to institutional racism. To build this foundational knowledge, The Corps Network is actively curating a library of articles, essays, academic studies, films, podcasts and other materials that will be housed here on The Corps Network’s website. This library will be updated on a regular basis. We will also publish original blogs, share questions, host discussions, and provide other means of engaging in this journey and thinking about race and racism.

“If racism was constructed, it can be undone. It can be undone if people understand when it was constructed, why it was constructed, how it functions, and how it is maintained.” – The People’s Institute
 

Why It’s Important at This Time 
It has become clear to us at The Corps Network that, as MLK Jr. once stated, there is, “a fierce urgency of now” in addressing the issue of racial equity in the world of conservation and the communities where our Corps work. The Corps Network realizes that we must be proactive in addressing the deeply imbedded and historically ingrained racial inequities that impact all of us, and particularly our Corpsmembers. Young adults of color represent roughly half of our Corpsmembers, and, with the development of native youth programs and the expansion of Corps in both urban and rural areas, we realize that this number will grow.

Failure to address systems and knowledge deficits that limit opportunities for Corps and Corpsmembers would be antithetical to our mission of helping Corps empower America’s youth. As the national liaison between Corps, which train the next generation of conservation professionals, and the agencies that hire such professionals, TCN is uniquely positioned to – with the guidance of experts in racial equity – help make racial equity the standard in resource management.
 

Upcoming
On August 17, 2017, we will introduce our first blog that will look at the experience of people of color within the Civilian Conservation Corps and introduce you to the works of Olen Cole, Nikhil Swaminathan and Daniel Medina.

Next Generation of Aquatic Restoration Leaders: Holden Foley

Operated by Trout Headwaters, Inc.Waders in the Water (WitW) is an interactive, webinar-delivered training that instructs students in common restoration industry tools, techniques, and processes, workplace safety, and proven, practical, & innovative habitat enhancement. WitW graduates have a path to projects, jobs, and careers in the $10B/Yr restoration economy. Corps that offer the WitW training are better positioned to participate in the growing number of public-private restoration partnerships with for-profit, non-profit and government entities.

This summer, The Corps Network and THI are partnering on a blog series to highlight young adults who have benefited from the WitW experience.


When ten-year-old Holden Foley was helping his oysterman dad and grandpa on their boat in Franklin County, Florida, he didn’t know what other options he had. He never imagined that, 13 years later, he’d be helping to restore and protect the waters he grew up on, while mentoring young men and women looking for something better: just like he was.

Oystering is hard work for a young boy. Holden started by culling the oysters, or sorting and grading each one by shape and size. As he got older, he started tonging for them with a long rake, scouring the Apalachicola Bay floor for shellfish gold. Holden spent every summer on the boat until he entered high school and discovered a way out of summer oystering. High School football in Florida meant practicing all summer and Holden was happy to trade his tong for some shoulder pads.

After graduating high school, Holden took a job in construction, but, after a few years, he felt stuck at a dead-end. During his time in construction, Holden worked on projects for Franklin’s Promise Coalition, Inc. (FPC) in Apalachicola. That’s when he met Joe Taylor, Executive Director for FPC.  Joe offered Holden another path. He said if Holden joined the newly-formed Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast (CCFC), he would have career opportunities working outdoors to improve the environment. Holden was particularly excited because he loves the outdoors and previously thought having a career meant being stuck inside at a desk all day.

Holden joined the Corps in June 2015 and soon found himself busy with a variety of outdoor projects. He built and repaired nature trails and used his construction background to help build a playground and renovate recreation centers and parks for the City of Apalachicola.

After eight short weeks in the program, Holden was promoted to crew leader. Just six months later, he was promoted to his current position of field manager/instructor. Along the way, Holden has completed many training classes and earned multiple certifications.

Holden participated in the Waders in the Water (WitW) Level I program in 2016 and found it helpful for many of the projects he worked on. It gave him a much better understanding of the terminology used in aquatic restoration, and greatly expanded his understanding of hydrology and the interdependency of aquatic systems. He now better understands how the precipitation falling on local forests makes its way to the bay. When Holden underwent the WitW training, he and his crew members had just started work on a living shoreline; he was able to use his newfound aquatic knowledge on that project to help protect vanishing shorelines and vulnerable species.

Before the WitW class, Holden had no idea there were so many restoration jobs available. Earning the WitW certification inspired him to seek out more environmental training; he’s currently completing a construction course entitled Your Role in the Green Environment to add to the Corps certification offerings.

Now 23 and married to his wife, Tristen, Holden plans to stay with CCFC and hopes to build affordable housing for the City of Apalachicola while continuing to lead CCFC corps members on restoration projects. Holden wants to stay a member of the FCP management team and reflected “I’ve been there, so I want to return the favor granted to me and offer these young people some better opportunities.”

Pictured above: Holden (red hat) and his corpsmembers bag oyster shells for one of their living shoreline projects.

Photos of the Month - June 2017

Photos of the Month - May 2017

Engaging Youth of Color in the Outdoors

Most Corps engage young adults age 16 and over. However, in honor of the National Park Trust's Kids to Parks Day this Saturday, May 20, we interviewed a Corps that provides stellar programming for younger kids in their community. Learn about how Greening Youth Foundation in Atlanta helps educate youth of color about how they can get involved in conservation. 



Greening Youth Foundation (GYF), located in Atlanta, GA, provides environmental education programming for youth of color ranging from kindergarten to twelfth grade. GYF serves City of Atlanta Recreation Centers, Hollis Innovation Academy, Dunbar Elementary, and Boys & Girls Clubs.

There are three distinct sections of GYF’s education program: CLEAN curriculum, the Green Speaker series, and field trips.

CLEAN curriculum - Children Living Energetically and Advancing Nature - was developed specifically for the demographic area GYF serves . It teaches environmental literacy to youth of color and engages them in the outdoors.

The Green Speaker series gives youth of color the opportunity to hear from professionals in conservation, environmental science, and STEM who look like them; something most youth of color don’t see on a daily basis. After learning the basics about a given career field from GYF, students get to dive deeper by listening to speakers discuss what it’s like in that occupation. In the past, a marine biologist, who happens to be a woman of color, introduced the students to the world of studying the oceans, discussing her work with sea turtles and the human impact on them.


Lastly, field trips play a significant role in this program. During these trips, youth build on the foundation of knowledge learned in the classroom and connect it to being outdoors.

“Our whole focus is really making it fun, interactive, and culturally relevant,” said Angelou Ezeilo, CEO and Founder of GYF. “The demographic we work with is ethnically diverse. We make sure from the music to the activities that it’s all relevant for the young people so that they can relate to it and the images they see are at the forefront of our minds.”



Grounded in public-private partnerships, the program formed on the realization there weren’t many programs for youth of color that address environmental education. In the beginning GYF, did after school programs and festivals to promote environmental awareness and increase literacy among young people about the environment and wellness.

Although GYF has experienced many successes, the program has endured some roadblocks along the way. A big challenge is simply getting children – especially teenagers – outside. They are working on finding a book, or even writing a book, that discusses how to engage children outdoors when there are so many competing factors, like technological devices. GYF wants youth to be in the moment and enjoy the outdoors.

Another challenge is funding. In some ways, this challenge has been addressed through public-private partnerships. For example, Spelman College supports GYF by having college students participate in the program. Managed by Gabriella Logan, GYF’s Public School Initiative Program Manager, and Jared Hopkins, PSI Assistant Manager, Spelman students are trained and certified to teach GYF’s curriculum. The college students in this program – who are called C.H.I.P.S., Collegiate and High School Internship Program – work in schools, recreation centers, and boys & girls club.

“Funding has been very challenging. Getting grants and so forth,” said Ezeilo. “Environmental programming grants are really hard to come by.”

The overarching challenge the program faces is that most environmental education materials are not tailored to youth of color. It is up to GYF to create or customize relevant materials for the audience they serve. This involves developing materials and activities that include language, music, and games that students will relate to. In order to provide trainings that “stick,” it is essential to create a culturally competent way of reaching youth in the outdoors. This is a fete GYF intends to overcome with a book.

Although funding proves to be a challenge, Greening Youth has successfully exposed youth of color to the outdoors. Logan states, “The young people that we work with are not necessarily allowed the opportunity to go outside just to get fresh air during the school day. We find when we come and do programming with the students, we’re exposing them to the outdoors in a different context then they might be used to. We try to engage them in nature and looking at the animals and how all of that ties together. Not necessarily just going outside to play.”

GYF explains that the CLEAN curriculum and Green Speaker series is important because it enables younger kids to envision themselves in conservation or environmental science careers long before these topics are brought up in high school. In fact, science isn’t normally taught in the classroom until third grade.



Through their programming, Greening Youth is committed to exposing youth to these different careers and being outdoors. Their programming positively affects students in that, by the time they are older, students already have a sense of what environmental science is and how it effects everyone, especially the black community.

Logan explains, “Starting at a young age helps to cultivate knowledge of the community’s environment they live in so they will be able to a make a positive change in the future.” Many program participants have indicated their interest in conservation or environmental science occupations in the future. Ezeilo attributes this factor to the “lightbulb going off”.

The relationship GYF has built with children over the years has created a yearning among them to learn more about the outside and their community. For older youth, GYF offers its Conservation Corps and internship programs for college students that give teens and young adults of color the opportunity to actually serve on public lands and gain hands-on job experience in conservation.

“You have to see it, to be it” - Ezeilo’s favorite quote by Sally Ride serves as the premise of her program. Youth in urban communities need to see examples of people in conservation careers that look like them. Participants in the Green Speaker Series serve as models and possibility of what the future could be. Within this program, youth are excited and understand the importance of environmental science and conservation through hands on experience.

 

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