The Corps Network to Participate in Community Leaders Briefing at White House

The Corps Network to discuss education, job training, and the role of service with senior White House and Administration officials

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial—A Symbolic Place to Launch The Corps Network’s Day of Service

As part of national Great Outdoors Month, The Corps Network’s will host its 2nd Annual Day of Service in the Nation’s Capital. Among this year's service opportunities, volunteers will help complete a painting project at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. This site was selected for the Day of Service kick-off event because of its relevance to the Service and Conservation Corps of today.

In 1933, President Roosevelt helped launch the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as part of his New Deal programs. The CCC help provide unemployed young men and their families with a source of income, as they worked together and built and enhanced much of America’s conservation infrastructure in places like national parks. Today Corps continue this legacy, viewing the CCC as their origin story. For those who can are history buffs or just curious, you can read more here about the progression of the Corps Movement.

What’s Cool about the Memorial and Why are Waterfalls Involved?

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial includes a variety of unique statues, waterfalls, and granite pillars with quotes that showcase FDR’s influence as a President during a time of great challenges and transition for the United States. One of the pillars shares a quote about the purpose of the Civilian Conservation Corps: “I propose to create a Civilian Conservation Corps to be used in simple work...More important, however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work.”

Here are a few additional fun facts from the National Park Service’s Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial webpage:

  • “The FDR Memorial on the National Mall is the second FDR Memorial in Washington, DC. The first one was built just the way Roosevelt wanted: a marble block no larger than his desk. The memorial stone stands on the northwest grounds of the National Archives Building, facing the U.S. Navy Memorial.”
     
  • “At seven and a half acres, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is the largest presidential memorial on the National Mall.”
     
  • “The waterfalls throughout the memorial are there for several reasons. First, they are symbolic of FDR’s connection to and love of water (he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy during World War I). Second, they block out some of the noise from the airport located directly across the Potomac River.”

Additional information about The Corps Network’s Great Outdoors Month Day of Service in the Nation’s Capital can be found here.

How Service and Conservation Corps Celebrated Earth Day in 2015

Corpsmembers enrolled in Service and Conservation Corps help protect the Earth and its wonders on a daily basis through their service.

Earth Day always provides a great additional opportunity to promote the benefits, goals, and fun of spending time outdoors and in nature.

Below you can discover the numerous ways that Corps programs served the Earth this year and gained attention for their work. For instance, 2 mayors of major cities spent time with Corps! One Corps also participated in a Google Hangout for Earth Day with the Clinton Global Initiative. 

Boiler Plate: 
Discover the numerous ways that Corps programs served the Earth this year and gained attention for their work. For instance, 2 mayors of major cities spent time with Corps! One Corps also participated in a Google Hangout for Earth Day with the Clinton Global Initiative.

7 Questions with Michael Muckle

This week is the inaugural article in a new series of interviews with Corps Staff members.

Michael Muckle is the Director of the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg and talks about his experience working at the Corps, advice from mentors, and what inspires him.

 


1. What are some of the projects that your Corps is working on right now that excite you the most?

There's a few things here in New Jersey that we're currently working on that I'm excited about:  

a. Our upcoming HOPE project at the Gateway National Recreation Area @Sandy Hook is something that I'm really anticipating because it will give our Corpsmembers such a unique opportunity to learn preservation craft skills while rehabilitating a historic building in a really beautiful setting.  

b. The second project I'm excited about is developing a partnership with the American Conservation Experience (ACE) to put our Waders in the Water trained Corpsmembers to work here in New Jersey.  ACE has taken the lead on some riparian restoration projects in the mitigation banking arena here in the state and we look to partner with them to place our Youth Corps WitW Level 1 Corpsmembers on site with them.  

c. The third ‘project’ I'm excited about is helping the state of New Jersey develop its implementation plan for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  We believe that WIOA will enable us to implement new ideas and programmatic strategies on a local level to expand and lengthen the services to our Corpsmember participants – who are requiring more effort and more time to achieve certain goals within Youth Corps. It’s an opportunity to amend our programs with opportunity to increase the quality of service for the next decade…maybe longer. That’s exciting.  

2. What kinds of careers are typically available in your neck of the woods for Corpsmembers?

Jobs usually available for our Corpsmembers are found in retail, foodservice and warehouse work given our rural location here in New Jersey. Other typical placements are entering into Community College, or directly into military service.    

Here at our program we're trying to change the mindset of Corpsmembers by offering them unique service opportunities that shadow careers within the field of public service. In doing so, we hope to reveal what’s possible to the Corpsmembers by introducing them to people in the field that have themselves blazed an unconventional career pathway. That one-on-one interaction is essential to the building of confidence and gaining of trust on behalf of the Corpsmember.  When they see that others like themselves can achieve, they buy into the idea and start to believe.        

3. What are some of the most typical problems you face when working with Corpsmembers, and how do you solve them?

I thought hard about this question. ‘Typical’ problems working in Youth Corps, as most readers might guess, are anything but typical. On any given day, we encounter myriad problems ranging from the relatively benign like punctuality and attendance to the more serious and detrimental behavioral issues -  drug addiction, sexual abuse, gang involvement, etc. The stories of our Corpsmembers are as dramatic as they are varied. We approach all these issues from a position of patience and understanding while utilizing our entire staff in addressing an individuals’ needs. We’re all about second chances. It is challenging, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. It’s particularly satisfying when a young adult has an epiphany about his or her life and then decides on an action of assuming responsibility for their future. It’s all worth it in the end!

4. What’s something about your organizational culture that you are proud of and something you want to improve?

There are two things in particular I’m proud of relative to the organizational culture here at the Phillipsburg Youth Corps. First, I’m proud of the legacy of service this program has provided to this community. Our seventeen years here haven’t been easy. We’ve had ups and downs, but we’ve had a lot of help from a lot of people. I think that we've become an essential part of this community here in Phillipsburg and Warren County. We’re very proud of that.

The second would be the level of commitment and passion for the youth we serve on behalf of my staff. Their hard work and determination are so inspiring! They have a familial approach in everything they do, are wonderful mentors to the young adults they work with and are the most patient people I know. They propel me to want to do better…for them and our youth.

Something I would like to improve is to become more effective with communication; things develop and change so quickly over the course of a day sometimes, and it is difficult to be able to keep pace and inform everyone about those developments. Getting your message out to the right people is so essential to finding partners that support your program as well as identifying the youth we serve, and with so many systems to do so (i.e. Social media, websites, newsletters, etc.), your message can get muddled in the medium you choose. I’d look to improve upon that.

5. What’s your favorite kind of terrain and why (Beach, mountain, forest, lake, tundra, etc…)?

This is an interesting question, but I'm going to answer it like a politician, so I apologize beforehand. I just love the natural world. I can’t pick one type of terrain or environment over another because I feel just as comfortable down the shore as I feel up in the mountains. I have a deep fascination and appreciation of both and everything in between, which by the way, is why I love New Jersey. I’m originally from Connecticut and I had the impression that most people who travel through New Jersey are only familiar with;  the industrial I-95/Route 1/NJ Turnpike corridor.  But the best of New Jersey is just beyond all that you can see when you’re barreling down the NJ Turnpike. New Jersey has it all. Mountains, forests, farms, beaches...it’s perfect.

6. What’s something accessible to the masses (a movie, tv show, song, book, event) that has inspired or influenced you recently?

Anyone who knows me knows that this is almost impossible for me to answer efficiently or succinctly, but I’ll try. One is a song, and it’s not even a new song, but Ben Harper’s “With My Own Two Hands” from 2003 is a personal anthem of mine. One of my former students turned me on to it, and from first listen, it spoke to me. It embodies an ethos of service with an infectious reggae hook. It reminds me why I joined AmeriCorps in the first place in 1998 and cements my resolve as I continue to serve alongside our Corpsmembers. Good stuff.

The second is a book I’m just getting into by Robert Putnam called “Our Kids: the American Dream in Crisis.” It’s a study on the growing inequalities in America and how it is affecting our youth.  I’m hoping it might open my eyes to something so it can foster a constructive conversation among our youth. It is interesting so far.  

7. What’s one of the best pieces of advice a mentor has given you?  

One thing the person who had my job before me said as they pulled me aside while walking out the door for the last time was “Seek balance, Mike. You’ve got to seek balance in all you do.” That has stayed with me ever since. It was a tough time of transition for me, both personally and professionally. I was working long hours, so I understood where the advice was coming from, but still I didn't heed it. It took a few years to fully comprehend and implement that philosophy, and I still struggle most days - but putting emphasis on the things that bring me the most satisfaction - my wife, my daughter and our family - has helped me.


 

Boiler Plate: 
This week is the inaugural article in a new series of interviews with Corps Staff members. Michael Muckle is the Director of the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg and talks about his experience working at the Corps, advice from mentors, and what inspires him.

The Corps Network Attends National Park Service's Find Your Park Launch Event

Today, members of The Corps Network staff attended a launch event at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. for the National Park Service and National Park Foundation's new Centennial anniversary #FindYourPark campaign. The goal of the initiative is simple: to connect new generations of Americans to their national parks in the ways that they find relevant and enjoyable. So Corps certainly have a role to play, as we know that many people want to volunteer and help maintain and protect their parks. 

The Corps Network staff was able to chat with Paul Ollig, Chief of Interpretation and Education for the National Mall & Memorial Parks.

"One of the great things about national parks is the opportunity to engage with all Americans and empower them to help us protect our national treasures. In 2016, the National Park Service Centennial provides a tremendous opportunity to expand the ways in which we reach out and engage new volunteers & organizations. Service and Conservation Corps and other groups through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Initiative will be among those who can help us tap the talents of new & diverse generations of stewards. I look forward to working with The Corps Network and other groups to do this," said Ollig.

The official event was short, but included remarks from National Park Service George Washington Memorial Parkway Chief of Staff Aaron LaRocca, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, White House Council on Environmental Quality Managing Director Christy Goldfuss, and National Park Foundation Acting President Dan Wenk.

The highlight was most certainly the recognition of a 4th grader who had completed 40 Junior Ranger programs nationwide. He was there in support of the Obama Administration's Every Kid in a Park Initiative that connects to the Find Your Park campaign.

The National Park Service also introduced several new exhibits, including a large interactive compass that directs you digitally to parks nationwide.

Last week, the LA Conservation Corps also attended a Find Your Park event and sent us the photo below, featuring LACC Corpsmember Bryan Langston, Russell Galipeau, Superintendant of the Channel Islands National Park, Jonathan Jarvis National Parks Director, and David Szymanski Superintendant of Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area.

The Corps Network looks forward to supporting the Find Your Park initiative over the coming years!

Boiler Plate: 
Today, members of The Corps Network staff attended a launch event at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. for the National Park Service and National Park Foundation's new Centennial anniversary #FindYourPark campaign. The goal of the initiative is simple: to connect new generations of Americans to their national parks in the ways that they find relevant and enjoyable. So Corps certainly have a role to play, as we know that many people want to volunteer and help maintain and protect their parks.
Blog Slideshow: 
National Park Service George Washington Memorial Parkway Chief of Staff Aaron LaRocca kicks off the Find Your Park launch event at the Jefferson Memorial.
National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis speaks.
White House Council on Environmental Quality Managing Director Christy Goldfuss speaks.
National Park Foundation Acting President Dan Wenk speaks.
Left to right: The Corps Network's Vice President Marie Walker, American Recreation Coalition President Derrick Crandall, and The Corps Network's President & CEO Mary Ellen Sprenkel
Left to right: The Corps Network's Director of Communications & Marketing Levi Novey, The Corps Network's President and CEO Mary Ellen Sprenkel, and American Recreation Coalition President Derrick Crandall.

The Corps Network Welcomes New Board and Corps Council Members

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a set of February meetings of The Corps Network’s leadership, new members were welcomed to the organization’s Board of Directors and Corps Council. Outgoing members were also formally recognized for their contributions.

Signature Program of The Corps Network Expands

Federal partnerships tap talent of even more American youth through The Corps Network’s AmeriCorps Opportunity Youth Service Initiative

Four Service and Conservation Corps Programs First to Obtain New Accreditation

For Immediate Release                                                                                        
November 25, 2014

The North Face and My Morning Jacket Collaborate in Support of 21st Century Conservation Service Corps

Earlier this week, The North Face and the Department of Interior announced a partnership in support of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. 

According to the DOI press release, "The North Face committed $250,000 and also launched a campaign today as a key component of the initiative featuring a new recording of Woody Guthrie’s iconic anthem “This Land is Your Land” by two-time Grammy nominee My Morning Jacket. The song will be available on iTuneswith more than half of each download going to the 21CSC as My Morning Jacket donates their portion of proceeds to the initiative. Monies raised will create jobs for youth and returning veterans through 21CSC projects on public lands across the nation – from Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California to Everglades National Park in Florida.

We think this is very exciting and are also pleased to see all of the attention it has been getting from publications that run the gambit. Here's a run-down of stories from well-known publications so far:

Telling Urbanites to Flee the Cities (The New York Times)

My Morning Jacket covers Woody Guthrie in epic new commercial (USA Today)

My Morning Jacket Records Woody Guthrie Classic For North Face Campaign To Benefit Public Lands (Fast Company)

The North Face and Dept. of Interior Partner to Protect Public Lands (Triple Pundit)

My Morning Jacket's Jim James on 'Magic' of 'This Land Is Your Land' (Rolling Stone)

[Video] U.S. Secretary Of The Interior Sally Jewell (Huffington Post Live)

The advertisement below will debut on Sunday Night Football on November 9th. At the very end you can see the 21CSC logo for a split-second. 

We wish to thank the Department of Interior, The North Face, and My Morning Jacket for their support of getting more young people and veterans out working on America's public lands through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps!

The Corps Network and Partners Host Congressional Briefing on Postsecondary Success Strategies for Opportunity Youth

The Corps Network and its partners Jobs For The Future, National Youth Employment Coalition, YouthBuild USA, Brandeis University, and Miami-Dade College held a congressional briefing on Postsecondary Success Strategies for Opportunity Youth on Wednesday. This session provided a setting to share the success, design, and implementation of the Post Secondary Success Education Initiative (PSEI), which was completed in 2013.

The PSEI was created in 2009 to help connect Opportunity Youth to college and postsecondary education. The Corps Network joined the initiative in 2012. Using the “Back on Track” model, this initiative funded national youth development organizations and community-based organizations that would make it possible for disconnected youth to acquire a high school diploma or GED and necessary academic skills to make the transition and complete their postsecondary education or training. Taking place in Brooklyn, New York; Waukegan, Illinois; Miami, Florida; Oakland, California; and San Rafael, California, this initiative had participant success rates of 55% enrolled in postsecondary education with a 74% rate of persistence through 2+ semester (data from The Corps Network). More information about PSEI can be found here.

Speakers at Wednesday’s panel spoke about the design of Postsecondary Success Strategies, how to best implement them, and how federal policy intersects these issues. Speakers included Terry Grobe (Jobs for the Future), Alan Melchior (Brandeis University), Scott Emerick (YouthBuild USA), Mala Thakur (National Youth Employment Coalition), Capri St. Vil (The Corps Network), H. Leigh Toney (Miami-Dade College), Alex Nock (Penn Hill Group) and Jennifer Brown Lerner (American Youth Policy Forum). Tyler Wilson, Director of Government Relations for The Corps Network, moderated the briefing.

Panelists spoke about the success of the initiative, citing the partnership between Community Based Organizations and youth development organizations as a fundamental element of the program. PSEI “brings together community organizations who serve the same people but haven’t talked to each other” said Alan Melchior, Associate Director and Senior Fellow at the Center for Youth & Communities at Brandeis University. “This partnership goes two ways, strengthening both partners and cultivating a ‘college-going’ culture in our communities” said Mala Thakur, Executive Director of National Youth Employment Coalition.

At a federal policy level, postsecondary success (PSS) closely ties into the themes of innovation, partnerships, college/career readiness, and increased college access and persistence, which are priorities in the development of the Higher Education Act reauthorization. PSS bridges the gap between a high school diploma/GED and postsecondary opportunities, while helping to ensure persistence through the difficult first year. “An end goal for the administration is career advancement so there is a focus on college and career readiness. Programs [such as PSEI] are now savvy about documenting what works and their successes so we are now ready for policy discussions” said Jennifer Brown Lerner, Deputy Director at American Youth Policy Forum.

The early data for PSS is promising and points to an effective model for re-engaging Opportunity Youth in education and the workforce. We would like to thank the Open Society Foundations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their generous support of PSS. We would also like to thank all panelists for their contributions to the briefing and support in Postsecondary Success Strategies. 

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