2017 National Conference Workshops & Plenaries

Click here for Workshop Evaluations

Workshops and plenaries are subject to change. If you have any questions about the below sessions, please contact Bobby Tillett, Member Services Coordinator, at btillett@corpsnetwork.org



Looking Ahead: Citizenship & National Service
With the erosion of civic engagement, trust in institutions, and a marked increase in partisanship, the country seems increasingly divided. At the same time, domestic service can be seen as elite and military service increasingly falls on a smaller portion of the population. Despite these trends, there is a significant number of citizens who are looking for ways to be engaged in their country in meaningful ways. National service can offer opportunities for people of different racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, geographic, and political backgrounds to come together around a common purpose and unified goal to bridge divides. Gen. Stanley McChrystal will kick-off the session with his bold vision of service for all Americans. He will then be joined by a panel of leaders in national service to discuss new ideas in national service, strategies for increasing civic engagement and service, and national service’s role in our new political climate and in our communities.

Promoting Racial Equity in the Corps Movement 

Many Service and Conservation Corps – like those advocated for by The Corps Network – offer youth participants mentors, work experience, job training and education possibilities. Youth who participate in Corps gain leadership skills, earn their GEDs or high schools diplomas and go on to become successful, productive adults. A very important fact related to the work of Corps is that African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately represented in the population identified as “opportunity youth” or “disconnected youth” that you serve. While this is disheartening data, it is not surprising when the structural racial inequities that have impacted these young people’s lives are taken into consideration. This is the starting place for an important conversation about increasing your organizations effectiveness by focusing on racial equity impacts. In this session we will begin to understand and grapple with the challenges of structural inequity, look at how assumptions about race and the people you serve get in the way, and contemplate what it takes to become an organization that is propelled by a deep and meaningful focus on equity. 

From Green People to Just People: Empowering the Next Generation 
We can address most of our community’s contemporary challenges through doing Corps work. But how do we expand Corps work to meet current urban challenges? This session will focus on these themes through a conversation between Mickey Fearn and Kofi Boone on pathways to increase inclusion and equity in environmental stewardship programs in urban communities.

Creating Community Equity through Corps
A goal of community equity is that every community should have multiple pathways to opportunity for hard-working citizens to succeed, including youth looking for ways to connect with education and the workforce. Corps provide and support these pathways for youth and veterans while also addressing pressing community challenges. Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will open this plenary by talking about his plan to utilize service as a strategy to increase employment and decrease violence in some of Chicago’s most distressed neighborhoods. Local elected officials will discuss how they are partnering with Corps in their communities to provide hands-on work experience and complete important and necessary work. We will also hear from an expert in domestic policy on what kinds of policies and programs could and should be implemented by the new Administration and Congress to lift up currently and historically underserved neighborhoods in an effort to promote equity across all communities.

Celebrating the 21CSC
The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps is a bold national effort to provide thousands of America’s young people and veterans an opportunity to serve their county, build urban and rural economics, strengthen America’s infrastructure and work to restore and enhance America’s great outdoors. The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (P-21CSC) supports the development and implementation of the 21CSC by focusing on the following areas: raising non-federal funding for the 21CSC; bolstering federal support; and expanding structure mechanisms to support the 21CSC. Come celebrate successes from the past year and learn what’s in store for the coming year.




Workshop Evaluations By Block

Monday - Workshop Block 1

Monday - Workshop Block 2

Tuesday - Workshop Block 3

Tuesday - Workshop Block 4


Track 1: Racial Equity – 
Workshops within this track will examine structural racism and implicit bias and how these barriers can impact Corps, Corpsmembers, and Communities. These workshops will also explore the role that Corps can play in promoting racial equity and cultural competency at all three levels: on a personal level with Corpsmembers; on an organizational level within the Corps, and on the Community level through projects and partnerships. Workshop topics will include: assessing cultural competency within your organization; exploring the impact of generational trauma; and considering diverse perspectives on racial equity (may involve a Corps Alumni panel on the subject).

Transformational Leadership through the Lens of Racial Equity
This workshop will give the participants as the change makers within their individual Corps the opportunity to further explore the points presented in the “Racial Equity” plenary.  Transformational Leadership is defined as a leadership approach that causes change in individuals and social systems.  It looks to redesign perceptions and values, and changes expectations and aspirations.  In order to achieve long-term systemic change, the “Moving Forward” Initiative will look at Transformational Leadership while focusing on institutional and structural racism, but The Corps Network is committed to challenging all forms of oppression.   This focused work and approach through the introduction of “Transformational Leadership” will provide us with the tools and skills that we need in order to address oppression that exists in our society. We recognize the need to focus our work, and we believe that many of the same tools and skills we use to address racial inequity apply to other forms of oppression.

The Fierce Urgency of Now
MLK, Jr. once said, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today.  We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.”  In looking at his words this panel will discuss the Solutions and Strategies that can make a difference in the lives of young men and boys of color.   The Campaign for Black Male Achievement will provide an overview, including findings, best practices and lessons learned, of their work in catalyzing a national movement on behalf of Black men and boys to date. Representatives from CLASP will discuss their brief on “Employment Pathways for Boys and Young Men of Color.  Most importantly with these organizations they will look to connect policy to practice. The final component of the workshop will consist of all participants completing and reflecting on the CMBA Field Building Blocks Assessment.

Looking at Diverse Perspectives under the Idea of Racial Equity
This workshop will include a panel that will explore steps to make one’s program more culturally relevant. La Plazita Institute from Albuquerque, NM will share their strengths-based approach in which they draw upon the cultural “roots” and histories of their participants to frame their organizational core values. Staff from Southwest Conservation Corps' “Ancestral Lands” program will also share how they incorporate their Corpsmembers' traditional culture and language into crew lifestyle and project work. For both organizations, it is important to remember the idea, “Not about us without us.”


Corps Alumni Panel

This workshop will focus on understanding the dominant ideology of racial equity from a Corpsmember perspective. Corps Alumni will exchange dialogue about how to revamp institutions, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce racial inequity.  Alumni will provide their perspective on the actions they believe Corps should take to support all Corpsmembers regardless of race or cultural background.


Track 2: Environmental Equity - 
Workshops within this track will explore issues related to environmental justice, the disproportionate effects of climate change on low-income communities of color, and the historical homogeneity of the public lands workforce and user-base. These workshops will provide participants with strategies to create more inclusive outdoor spaces and decrease the negative effects of natural disasters and generational environmental inequities.

Infrastructure as a Basis for Community and Environmental Equity
America's infrastructure - from trails, roads, recreation facilities, water and energy - is in dire need of maintenance and expansion, particularly in low-income urban and rural communities. Corps can help address some of these infrastructure needs while at the same time providing Corpsmembers with skills and experience for in-demand local jobs. Learn about opportunities to work on transportation, green infrastructure, public lands maintenance, and other types of projects in your community while employing strategies that promote "high road" jobs. 

Disasters: Corps as a Strategy for Community and Environmental Resiliency
Disasters, from floods to fires, are increasing in their frequency, cost and severity. Additionally, low-income communities are often hardest hit and have a more difficult time recovering. Corps have traditionally been engaged in response work through AmeriCorps and wildfire remediation, but, in addition to improving our response and preparation efforts, Corps can play a larger role in making communities and the environment more resilient to future disasters through mitigation and long-term recovery. We will hear from resiliency and mitigation-focused partners about strategies and project opportunities in these areas.

Inclusion in the Great Outdoors and Heritage Sites
A focus of The Corps Network’s equity initiative is to ensure that all individuals have opportunities to experience and enjoy our public lands. In this workshop, representatives from Outdoor Afro, Hispanic Access Foundation, National Park Service, and National Park Foundation share successes and lessons learned regarding efforts to be more inclusive in the great outdoors and heritage sites. This discussion will explore what inclusion means and how people, on the individual and organizational level, can incorporate more inclusive thinking and practices into their daily lives.

Cultural Landscapes, Public Lands, and the Importance of Perception
Cultural landscapes are legacies for everyone. It is the combination of the natural land with a historical event or activity and as a result, it forms our collective memory of a place. They provide scenic, economic, ecological, social, recreational, and educational opportunities, which help individuals, communities and nations, understand themselves.  This workshop will explore the exclusionary histories of communities of color that are associated with public lands, it will also provide context for attendees to learn about cultural landscapes and their effect on individual perception towards public lands.


Track 3: Community Equity – 
Workshops within this track will look at ways in which Corps can help level the playing field for their Corpsmembers and the communities they serve by providing education, workforce development, and support services that empower Corpsmembers to complete important projects that improve the community for all residents. Among other things, workshops will explore best practices for post-Corps transition and support, the important role of mentors, and innovations in career pathway development.


Celebrating Strengths and Addressing Barriers in the Corpsmembers We Serve
Civicorps (Oakland, CA) and the Latin American Youth Center’s (LAYC) Conservation Corps (Montgomery County, MD) will share best practices for supporting and retaining participants. This workshop will focus on the assessment of participant needs and the significance of relationships and intentional collaboration as pivotal to a youth's success in the workforce. Presenters will share data collected from case studies and a randomized controlled trial, and discuss their organizations’ efforts to provide disconnected/opportunity youth with the long-term interventions needed to stay on a path to economic mobility.

Civicorps will share how the needs of Corpsmembers are met through a strengths-based approach and a Trauma Informed Care framework. By examining the orientation and intake process, cohort model, and utilization of grant funds through the perspective of a Graduate Alumni, the Lead Case Counselor, and the Deputy Director, Civicorps will demonstrate the complexity and intentionality required to strategically support and celebrate Corpsmembers. The LAYC Conservation Corps' collaboration with the Promotor Pathway, an intensive case management program, has led to sustained participant outcomes in both employment and healthy behaviors. 

Equity through Corpsmember Success: Career Placement & Postsecondary Supports
Many Corps have developed innovative approaches to help ensure their alumni post-Corps success with employers, post-secondary institutions, and training providers. Workshop participants will discuss job and postsecondary placements, follow-ups, and supports that Corps and employers can offer Corpsmembers, and how this translates into better outcomes for our programs, alumni, and partners.

Developing the Next Generation of Community Leaders through Mentoring
This workshop will examine the use of different strengths-based approaches to mentoring.  Mentoring is a program model that ensures every young person has the supportive relationships they need to grow and develop into thriving, productive and engaged adults. The workshop will look through both a race and gender lens and utilize the positive impact of mentoring for Boys and Young Men of Color as an example of the model’s success and flexibility to meet various Corpsmember needs.

Communities Aligned for Career Pathways
Career pathways development has emerged as a key strategy for youth and adult workforce success, but can be intimidating to any one organization to understand. As a community of Corps, we can develop these pathways through strategic business/education-partnerships within our own communities. This workshop will explore opportunities for support and replication through local and federal government programs, such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). 

Corpsmember-Centered Learning
This workshop will examine Jobs for the Future’s (JFF) “Students at the Center” and “Deeper Learning” strategies, which focus on: personalized learning; competency-based learning; learning that takes place anytime, anywhere; and the assumption that students must have agency and ownership over their learning.  The panel members will provide guidance for how we can support all students in college, career, and civic development, while engaging them in the development and implementation of their own pathways to success. 


Track 4: Strengthening Programmatic & Operational Procedures – 
Workshops within this track will look at Corps operations and programming. The goal of this workshop track is to provide participants with actionable content to strengthen their programs and/or increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. Workshops will focus on best practices for Corpsmember recruitment and tracking, services to promote the inclusion of Corpsmembers with disabilities, and social impact funding models. 

Recruitment Challenges & Strategies for Improvement
Many Corps have expressed concern that recruitment is becoming more difficult with the resurging economy and increased availability of jobs. This workshop provides a space for Corps to discuss the issue at hand and rethink their recruitment strategies to reach more potential members. Main topics will include new partnerships, tools, and resources for local and national recruitment.

National Park Service Youth Programs Roundtable
Youth Programs Coordinators from NPS Regions across the country will hold a roundtable to discuss how they can better engage Corps to promote public lands stewardship among the next generation.

Social Impact Investing & Equitable Development
Social impact investing and related strategies are an emerging way to fund and sustain social impact programs like Corps. Various strategies are covered under this banner, like pay for success/performance, social impact bonds, and social enterprises. There are existing funding opportunities with the private sector and federal government; Corps engaged in these emerging strategies will share their experiences, best practices and challenges, and advice on how other Corps can get involved.  

Illustrated Guide to Teaching Federal Resume Writing
This workshop will include an overview of the Public Lands Hiring Authority timeline expansion and a train-the-trainer presentation by Colorado Firecamp & CYCA on teaching students how to apply for federal positions.  Areas of focus include timing of hiring cycles, correlation of traditional job hunting to online applications, and understanding how supervisors make selections.  Participants can adapt the lesson plan and supporting materials to meet the needs of their corps members, alumni and staff in pursuit of their career goals.

Social Inclusion vs. Accessibility: Supporting Deaf & Hard of Hearing Corpsmembers
By focusing on accessibility from a lens of social inclusion, Corps and community service programs can better serve and meet the needs of their participants from diverse backgrounds.  Representatives from CorpsTHAT will talk about social inclusion and how organizations can develop productive and enriching experiences for Deaf and Hard of Hearing participants as well as for everyone involved in their programs. 

Optional Monday Afternoon Sessions

NCCC & PLSC Win-Win Meeting
Come join the Public Lands Service Coalition and leadership from the National Civilian Community Corps as they discuss partnership opportunities.


Gulf Coast Alliance Meeting
Corps representatives from the Gulf Coast will meet the discuss opportunities and challenges specific to their region. The Gulf Coast Alliance is a working group created by members of The Corps Network that strives to strengthen the environmental health, economic health and resilience of communities along the Gulf of Mexico by encouraging partnerships among Corps, local governments, community organizations and businesses. For the purpose of this Alliance, the Gulf Region consists of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and Texas.

Using the “Ecoblu” Certification to Build Public-Private Partnerships 
This panel will share proof of concept for the idea of building effective partnerships around trained corpsmembers.  From the national and local corps perspective, as well as the partner and private industry outlook, attendees will get a 360 view of leveraging a certified workforce into restoration projects while simultaneously inspiring individual corpsmembers to become the next generation of conservation stewards. 

How to Host Your Own “City of Trees” Film Screening
Join Meridian Hill Pictures and the Director of the “City of Trees” documentary to learn more about the resources and materials available for you to hold your own community screening of the film.