Hispanic Heritage Month 2016 - Corps Engaging a More Diverse Generation in Conservation/Community Leadership

The United States is increasingly diverse, but the population participating in outdoor recreation and working in environmental conservation is still overwhelmingly white. In order to ensure the future protection of our public lands and waters, it’s imperative that we make environmental issues and outdoor activities more relevant and accessible to all Americans.

Estimates show that white people of non-Hispanic origin comprise 68 percent of those participating in outdoor recreation. People of Hispanic origin, who comprise some 17 percent of the total U.S. population, make up only 8 percent of those getting outside to recreate.

However, this does not necessarily reflect how people feel about the outdoors. A survey conducted of Latinos in Colorado and New Mexico showed that 78 percent of respondents felt it is “very important” that government preserve and protect public lands. Another survey conducted by The New York Times showed that 57 percent of Latino respondents see climate change as “extremely or very important,” compared to just 37 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

There are a range of reasons why people of color are underrepresented in the outdoors. Lack of proximity to safe, nearby public lands is part of the problem, but a deeper issue to address is that not everyone feels particularly welcome or represented in our parks. For example, about 80 percent of National Park Rangers are white.

A big part of making public lands more accessible is increasing the diversity of those working to protect them. In 2015, some 19 percent of young people enrolled in member programs of The Corps Network identified as Hispanic. This is representative of America’s demographic breakdown. Through Corps, these young adults gain the experience and hard skills to succeed in community and resource management positions.

Today’s Corpsmembers are tomorrow’s more diverse generation of conservation and civic leaders. In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, here are just a few stories submitted by member Corps about young people of Hispanic heritage serving their communities and the environment.


Eriberto Diaz Rocha

LA Conservation Corps

When I first stepped outside the work truck and onto our worksite in the mountains, there were mountaintops as far as the eye could see. I’ve never seen them this close before and I was scared – mostly because I am afraid of heights! But once I got past my initial fears, I thought the view was so nice!

After that first day, I remember telling my friends and family that I felt like I was on top of the world. I went from not ever giving the mountains a second thought because I just didn’t think they were something I would ever be able to experience, to being high above the city and seeing hiking trails, plants and trees. This made me think of how beautiful life is. It made me want to give more color to my life instead of living in black and white; that adventures like this can lead to experiences that will make my life more interesting. I can’t wait to bring my family and friends on a hike in the mountains so that I can share this beautiful place with them, too.

This experience has affected me in many wonderful ways. Not only has it provided me with a steady job that enables me to help my family, but it has encouraged me to think bigger about my place in the world. Everything I do has an effect. I might not see it right away, but one day I can come back to this space and see the benefits of the work that I’m doing right now.

Working in the mountains with the Corps has also instilled a sense of excitement about being able to pass this experience onto other young people who want to change their life. This is important because my work here has also granted me with an opportunity to forget about my past, learn to make better choices in life, and look forward to a brighter future.

It makes me feel good knowing that I am doing something to make a difference in and for the community.



Assisting the Hungry to Grow their Own Vegetables

¡YouthWorks! Santa Fe Youth Corps

Early one morning in July 2016, through the efforts of ¡YouthWorks! Santa Fe Youth Corps – a corps comprised of 90% Hispanic members from the northern New Mexico region – 50 individuals and/or families in-need each received a hand-built take-home Vegetable Garden Box, designed and planted with love by youth and young adults from ¡YouthWorks! Santa Fe Youth Corps.

This project was made possible by a unique grant awarded to nonprofits with the best projects for community and neighborhood revitalization, corridor improvements, green space creation or the creation of meaningful public spaces. The funds allowed ¡YouthWorks! Santa Fe Youth Corps members to hand-build and distribute garden boxes filled with vegetable starts for Santa Fe’s most in-need.

Developed as a concept to assist low-income members of community by giving them the ability to grow their own vegetables, ¡YouthWorks!’ take-home Vegetable Garden Box project has also functioned as a job-skills training and community service project for Corpsmembers of ¡YouthWorks! Santa Fe Youth Corps. Lead by a retired war-veteran, professional trainer and master carpenter, participating Corpsmembers learned carpentry skills, design, construction and small project management.

¡YouthWorks! is a nonprofit organization that offers alternative education and GED preparation, job and life skills training, hands-on work and service opportunities combined with job placement services for youth and young adults who are seeking to better their lives.



Alejandra Perez

Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps (LCC)

Hello, my name is Alejandra Perez and I am 25 years old.  I have two wonderful boys and a husband.

I struggled with finding a program that would help me finish getting my high school diploma as well as work-experience.  Every time I enrolled into a different school I felt like I wasn’t getting the help I needed or wasn’t really learning anything. But in the winter of 2015 I heard about Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps Program. I decide to attend their work-experience and school orientations and give it a chance.

I made a great decision. I have made it my goal to finish my high school diploma and to learn as much as I can in the work- experience program. So far I’ve been here for a year, started out with 50 credits and know I’m sixty-four credits away from graduating in March of 2017. Another decision I made was to do a dual enrollment class through Fresno City College.

I have accomplished a number of things since I started at the Corps in September 2015, but the most important thing for me is to volunteer and give back to the community. I have volunteered at the monthly Fresno EOC food distributions. When I see the longs line it just makes me work harder and give back as much as I can to the community.

During October 2015, and this October, I volunteer for Cancer Awareness and encourage students and Corpsmembers to come volunteer and bring awareness to school and the LCC campus. I encourage them to participate in the annual walk, get screened, and also encourage their friends and family members to get checked. 

Throughout the year I have volunteered in various events, including at Make a Difference Day back in October 2015, and through a recycling program for Global Youth Service Day. I was a presenter at the Corps Open House in December 2015, participated in April 2016 with YouthBuild Charter School at a Community Action Project for Green Is Good, and also volunteered to share my story on the Corpsmember panel during the LCC Mental Toughness Orientation. I have earned thirteen awards in Citizenship, the Student of the Trimester award, Perfect Attendance, Student of the Month and the Whatever It Takes Award-Field Crew. I am certified in First Aid/CPR and Forklift operation. 

Photos of the Month: September 2016

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps Facebook pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from September 2016. 


Urban Corps of San Diego County 

Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps 

Maine Conservation Corps 


Larimer County Conservation Corps 


Arizona Conservation Corps 



Texas Conservation Corps 

PowerCorps PHL 

PowerCorps PHL

LA Conservation Corps 



Time to Renew Your Membership in The Corps Network - 2017

It's time for your organization to renew your membership in The Corps Network! We look forward to working with you for another year! See below for a message from our CEO, Mary Ellen Sprenkel. 

As of September 27, 2016, membership renewal packets have been sent out to all current members of The Corps Network. If you believe you did not receive this information, please contact Bobby Tillett, Member Services Coordinator.

Membership renewal paperwork and dues must be submitted no later than:
October 31, 2016.

Click here to see our updated Member Benefits Guide

Click here to learn about our new membership category for Individual Placement Programs

Click here for the Annual Corps Profile Survey - This is to be completed by Full Members of The Corps Network. You must have a Member Login to view this part of our website. If you do not have a login, please contact Hannah Traverse, Communications Manager. 


A Letter From Our CEO

(click here for PDF version)

September 19, 2016 

Dear Members of The Corps Network, 

As the 2016 Fiscal Year comes to a close, I am proud to report on our progress and successes over the past year. This September, TCN membership reached 132 Service and Conservation Corps members, 61 Affiliate members, and 400 AmeriCorps Basic members. This represents an increase of 55 members since this time last year. Please join us in welcoming these new members; we are excited to add their experience and expertise to our network. 

In addition, we saw significant growth in many of our existing programs. In 2016, through TCN’s 21st Century Service and Conservation Corps cooperative agreement with the National Park Service, Corps accessed $1.2 million in project work with NPS. The HOPE Crew program had another great year, completing its 100th project and generating almost $1 million in historic preservation projects with Corps. Additionally, The Corps Network was awarded new OYSI and EAP grants for FY17-FY20. These grants will support 740 Corpsmember positions and provide over $8 million in scholarships each year. 

TCN continued to develop programs and services to better support member Corps and their Corpsmembers. Through the Gulf Coast Restoration Corps, The Corps Network obtained over half a million dollars to complete essential environmental restoration work in Florida and Mississippi. Additionally, TCN is in the process of creating a digital badge system to help Corpsmembers demonstrate to prospective employers the competencies they gained during their service. Other technical assistance accomplishments include adding over 100 new documents to our online resource library and organizing ten informative webinar sessions. 

We also recently launched two new coalitions, respectively focused on National Service and Education and Workforce. These coalitions are open to all member Corps and will serve as the hub for distributing information on policy and practice in these two areas. Moreover, we achieved bipartisan sponsorship and support for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act in both the House and the Senate. 

Lastly, we are excited to announce the creation of the Individual Placement Program (IPP) membership category. This new category expands the types of programs eligible for Full Membership in The Corps Network to include Corps that, rather than organizing all of their Corpsmembers into “teams” or “crews,” operate programs in which Corpsmembers serving in individual, internship-like positions are part of a “cohort” of other individual placement Corpsmembers that meets regularly for training and group activities. The IPP membership is not designed to replace traditional crew-based programs, but rather to meet the growing demand of member Corps and Corps partners for individual placement positions. With the creation of the Individual Placement Programs membership category, we hope to expand this program model and develop ways to support different kinds of Corps experiences that meet the main objective of engaging young people in meaningful service that helps improve communities and the environment. 

We are honored to support your programs as you harness the power of youth and young adults to tackle some of America’s greatest challenges. We thank you for your continued membership in The Corps Network and look forward to working with you over the coming year. 


Mary Ellen Sprenkel 


President & CEO 

Blog Post - Wyoming Conservation Corps: A Wyoming Tradition in Public Land and Conservation

Evan Townsend
Wyoming Conservation Corps

Originally published on the Wyoming Conservation Corps website on September 2, 2016

I know what you are thinking – another blog post celebrating the National Park Service’s 100 year anniversary. Or, yet another post from the WCC describing how important our work is and how good we look while doing it. Well, you are partially, right. It is a big deal that the United States of America is celebrating its famous park service that so many countries across the world have mimicked in some way or another. And, it is a big deal that the United States was the first industrial country to create the idea and implementation of public land. Most of all, it is a big deal that Wyoming holds the territory and statehood allowing for these world first’s.

Among some of the most treasured “first’s” that Wyoming has produced, one of them permitting women the right to vote, are the state’s first’s in public land. Forty-four years before the National Park Service took its beginning steps as an federal agency in 1916, the world’s first national park – Yellowstone (1872) – opened American eyes to the possibility of land to be sanctioned for the primary use of recreation administered by the federal government. Respectively, the first USA land set aside for pure recreation to be run by a state government was Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove in 1864 – a beacon of hope and pride in the midst of the bloody Civil War.

  • 1872 – World’s first national park – Yellowstone NP (Wyoming)
  • 1891 – World’s first Timber Reserve turned into a public National Forest – Shoshone NF (Wyoming)
  • 1906 – World’s first recreation based national monument – Devils Tower NM (Wyoming)
In the first decades of the national parks and public land in general, access had become a trademark of the wealthy and upper-class with the famous inns and lodges built to accommodate the elite. Then, the Great Depression hit Americans and the world in 1929 through the entirety of the 1930s and into the 1940s. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was born out of a need to create jobs and worth for young men around the country from all walks of life or neighborhoods, build infrastructure on our public lands that accommodate all social classes, and promote the American ideal of liberty and pride through service for one’s country. Out of the 1,300 CCC camps across the country, 136 of them were located in Wyoming. One of the bigger Wyoming camps was located in Guernsey State Park and evidence of their amazing stone work can still be seen today.

The CCC years marked a new era for public land use. People from the middle-class and working-class could afford the time, money, and energy to visit our public lands and parks thanks both to a renewed interest in nature-based vacations and the wide-spread integration of the automobile. In 1971, the Youth Conservation Corps then came to exist employing young men AND WOMEN from all over the united states of all social classes, even youth as young as 14 years old, to continue the legacy of the CCC. You will never guess where one of their first projects were – Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

In the 1990s, semi-private non-profit conservation corps were being established all neighboring Wyoming and working on Wyoming’s public land. It was not until 2006 that Wyoming had it own conservation corps (WCC) to aid the other neighboring corps in working on the vast network of public land in Wyoming. We work diligently to work with project partners all over Wyoming, federal, state, and private, to improve public lands while empowering young adults to lead by example.

Every swing of our pick mattock, or axe bit chipping out wood, or evening campfire with glowing faces from various backgrounds and states, is an exercise in conservation and legacy.


Photos of the Month: August 2016

Request for Proposals: Gulf Conservation Corps Restoration Program - Veteran's Conservation Corps

Download RFP [Word] [PDF]

Applications due by 8:00 p.m. (ET), 9/16/16

The Corps Network requests proposals from qualified non-profit organizations to recruit and train veterans on forest conservation projects through the creation of a Veteran’s Conservation Corps based in the Gulf Coast states. 

The Gulf Conservation Corps Restoration Program (GCCRP), a partnership between The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Corps Network (TCN), works to create the infrastructure to train and mobilize Conservation Corps crews to address problems in the Gulf ecosystem. The goals of the GCCRP are to improve the long-term health of coastal habitats for native plants and animals; build the capacity of Conservation Corps along the Gulf so they can play a significant role in restoration efforts; and train young people (ages 18-26) and Veterans (up to age 30) to participate in the expanding Gulf restoration economy. 

The Veteran’s Conservation Corps will provide a “proof of concept” demonstration for key partners in the Gulf Region. Funding will support start-up and operation of a mobile crew. The crew will focus on Longleaf Pine restoration and controlled burn projects that could range across the entire Gulf.

A high priority outcome of the proof of concept project is to develop a program model match veterans’ skills and experiences with career pathways in the Gulf’s new restoration economy. 

Who Should Apply?
Applicants should be non-profit organizations located or currently working in the Five State Gulf Region with previous experience working in the field of environmental conservation. The qualified organization will also have experience in wildland fire and prescribed burn activities, including recruitment, training, and supervision of fire crews. Additionally, special attention will be given to applicants experienced in working with veterans.Preference will be given to organizations that are members of The Corps Network, but all eligible and qualified applicants are encouraged to apply.

Download RFP [Word] [PDF]

Photos of the Month: July 2016

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps Facebook pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from July 2016. 


Arizona Conservation Corps

Western Colorado Conservation Corps 

Greening of Detroit 

Southeast Conservation Corps 

Greening Youth Foundation 

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - NM 

Wyoming Conservation Corps (actually from June 30th, not July!) 

Washington Conservation Corps 

Heart of Oregon Corps 

American YouthWorks - TxCC 

California Conservation Corps 

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps 

Onondaga Earth Corps


US Forest Service Establishes New Safety Policy Regarding Use of Saws on Forest Lands

June 20, 2016 - The United States Forest Service recently established a new policy for using saws on Forest Lands. The policy applies to Forest Service staff, partners, and volunteers. It is particularly relevant for the many Conservation Corps crews that serve on Forest Lands. 

Press Release 

Saw Policy Webpage 

Full Text of Policy in Federal Register


Text of Press Release:

Forest Service Updates Safety Policy for Saw Use

WASHINGTON, JULY 19, 2016 AT 1:30 PM EDTThe U.S. Forest Service today finalized a policy that will provide for nationally consistent training, evaluation and certification requirements for the use of chain saws and crosscut saws on National Forest System lands. The new policy governs the use of saws by Forest Service and other governmental employees, volunteers, training consultants and cooperators on lands managed by the Forest Service.

“This policy ensures that our employees, our volunteers and our partners will consistently have the best knowledge available and, in the end, be safer when using saws in National Forests,” said Leslie Weldon, deputy chief for the Forest Service’s National Forest System. “The change also means that if sawyers are certified in one region, they are eligible to work in any of our regions.”

Since the 1970s, the agency’s nine regions developed regional policies on the use of chain saws and crosscut saws. Sawyers covered by those policies often maintained trails on national forests and grasslands, helped fight wildfires and worked in wilderness areas where cross cut saws are required. Employees, cooperators and volunteers who worked in more than one region had to comply with multiple regional policies and certifications obtained in one region but not always honored in another.

Under the new national directive:

  • Current sawyer certifications will remain valid until they expire.
  • Cooperators have one year, until July 19, 2017, to meet the new requirements.
  • Sawyers must comply with U.S. Department of Labor minimum age requirements, which limit use of chainsaws to those who are at least 18 years of age and use of crosscut saws to those who are at least 16 years of age.
  • Partner organizations, like the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the Back Country Horsemen of America, may develop their own training and certification programs that meet the requirements in the final directive.
  • Like Forest Service and other governmental employees, cooperators, volunteers and training consultants, Forest Service contractors are subject to applicable federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements governing the use of saws. However, contractors are not subject to the final saw directive because the Agency does not believe it is necessary or appropriate to track their training and certification as sawyers given their role and responsibilities as federal contractors.

More information about the policy is online.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities and approximately 66 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.  The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 900 million forested acres within the U.S., of which over 130 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.

Turn Your Corps' Campus into a Certified Wildlife Habitat

It's not hard to make your backyard, garden - or the area around your Corps' office - a Certified Wildlife Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation. If you use sustainable practices to maintain your property, and if your outdoor space has food, water, cover and a place for animals to raise young - then you're already well on your way to certification

Watch these two great videos featuring Corpsmembers of the California Conservation Corps explaining what defines a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat (CWH) and how you can make your "campus, backyard or even a porch" wildlife habitat. In the first video, Corpsmember Daniel Villeux explains what is required to create a CWH. In the second video, watch some "birds" (John Griffith and his crew) show the benefit of a CWH from an animal's perspective.

Be sure to also check out this blog post from California Conservation Corps member Karlee Jewell about how you can be a part of creating vital habitat for species in need. 


How to Certify Your Campus as Wildlife Habitat


Birds of a Feather

Photos of the Month: June 2016