Next Generation of Aquatic Restoration Leaders: Abbey Toomer

 

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.

 


She grew up in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas where she loved to fish Lake Norfork and the White River with her Dad and Grandfather, “Pa”. It was this draw to nature and the outdoors that, in 2011, led Abbey Toomer to join Florida’s Community Training Works, Inc., also known as Young American Conservation Corps. 

Starting as an office assistant in 2011, Abbey, now 28, learned the ins and outs of financing and managing a Corps. After three years in this position, she transitioned to working in the field and training other crewmembers.

Over the years, Abbey numerous certifications and completed trainings in proper ax usage, Wilderness First Aid and CPR, and wildland firefighter basic management. She also completed the Waders in the Water training, which introduced her to water safety and the concept of how all environmental systems are connected. With this experience, Abbey spent three months in Mississippi training new Corpsmembers with Climb CDC Conservation Corps in skills such as endangered species tracking, processing, handling, and cataloging invasive species.

Abbey has worked mostly in the Florida Panhandle, but has also worked in Ft. Lauderdale, St. Augustine, and on the Florida National Scenic Trail. Recently, she and her crewmembers are worked with the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory to expand Living Dock; a learning platform used by thousands of school children, marine biology and aquaculture students, and medical and scientific researchers. They also recently partnered with Florida State University’s Coastal and Marine Laboratory on oyster restoration, coastal restoration and trail maintenance.

Abbey believes the Waders in the Water program provided her insight into new perspectives on nature. While she has always considered herself environmentally conscious and tries to live as “green” as possible, Abbey’s made some changes since the training. She now uses a “First, Do No Harm” approach in her work, pausing to assess both the environment and proposed solutions before taking any action. She asks herself, “Is this solution really the BEST thing to do for nature and this particular habitat?" Abbey strives to help Mother Nature heal herself, instead of counting on nature to fix whatever problems humans impose. She now considers the unique qualities and needs of each project location, knowing that, in restoration or rehab work, one size rarely fits all. 

The professional training she has received through WitW gave Abbey greater confidence to work on bigger restoration projects and communicate more knowledgably with land and project managers. She is excited about continuing Gulf Coast restoration work and looks forward to, along with her team, applying the knowledge she gained through WitW.

“So many folks living in rural Arkansas, and other communities throughout the US that struggle with crippling high unemployment, could really benefit from this training,” reflected Abbey. “These folks would not only become better job candidates for organizations and companies restoring lands and waters, but they would also improve their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities, for many years to come.” 

New Jersey Youth Corps Puts Aquatic Restoration Training to Use with Audubon

17-year-old Omari Gibson of Phillipsburg smiles as he works in the stream, saying it's their way of giving back. Photo credit: NJ.com

They were in the classroom on Tuesday and in the water by Thursday. Less than 48 hours after completing an innovative online-delivered aquatic restoration course, members of the New Jersey Youth Corps Phillipsburg chapter were up to their knees in a Musky River feeder stream putting their new found expertise to work.

The youth corps members joined local volunteers from New Jersey Audubon in a sustainable stream bank restoration. The group hand-planted willow stakes along the waterway that when grown will prevent soil erosion into the stream while providing shade that will help keep the water cool and protect valuable habitat for wildlife.

NJ.com’s Warren reporter Emily Cummins quotes Zach Oefelein, an 18 year-old corps member as saying "It definitely gives me a good sense of pride. There aren't enough people focused on things like this. A lot of our world is focused on what you can get out of nature and not what you can put back into it. I feel like this is the best way you can do it, planting trees out here and improving the ecosystem."

You can read more at:  

http://www.nj.com/warrenreporter/index.ssf/2015/04/nj_audobon_washington_township.html

Boiler Plate: 
They were in the classroom on Tuesday and in the water by Thursday. Less than 48 hours after completing an innovative online-delivered aquatic restoration course, members of the New Jersey Youth Corps Phillipsburg chapter were up to their knees in a Musky River feeder stream putting their new found expertise to work.

Waders in the Water Aquatic Restoration Training Interactive Support — Now Easier and More Powerful

From our partners at Trout Headwaters, Inc. comes news about enhancements to the Waders in the Water aquatic restoration training they offer to Corpsmembers.

The Waders in the Water online support tool has been newly upgraded to improve system features and ease-of-use. EcoBlu Analyst 2.0, the cloud-based big data system for the Waders in the Water green jobs training and certification program, is now easier to use than ever. The intuitive, interactive maps of member Corps, conservation projects, and potential restoration industry employers are now faster and more user-friendly, and new resources include feeds for conservation jobs and internships.  

Every Waders in the Water student receives password access to the platform so they can explore opportunities in the growing restoration economy and access a wealth of support material to refresh or expand their knowledge, including stream, river, wetland, coastal, and estuary restoration drawings and specifications, resume templates, environmental glossary and more.  WisCorps’ Garrett Shears took the online class and told us “The web based resource is an incredibly valuable tool.” 

This sample interactive map shows various U.S. Conservation Corps which are Waders in the Water certified.

Presently Corpsmembers and leaders in 23 states are applying their new certification and are using EcoBlu Analyst 2.0 to both understand the restoration economy, and to partner with fellow Corps on projects.

White Mountain Youth Corps Founder Mike Gaffney: “I think the training/certification gives our partners and potential partners more confidence that we're serious about restoration work and that we can be a trusted source for their restoration implementation plans.”

Wyoming Conservation Corps Assistant Director Patrick Harrington echoed the values. “Trout Headwaters has developed a truly unique training for the Conservation Corps world,” he said. This platform is just one of the support tools already deployed for the Waders in the Water Level I training.  

Expect an announcement soon on release of the new Waders in the Water level II training. In the meantime, many corps told us early April was a great time to train and certify newly arriving Corpsmembers in aquatic restoration and the green jobs economy.

To participate in the next online webinar training:

Members of The Corps Network can Register Here for the April 6 & 7, (10 am –1 pm EDT) Waders in the Water Level I class.  

The private-public training program continues to offer on-site sessions for groups of 20-40 students to accommodate individual corps needs. Please contact Luke Frazza for more information.

Contacts:

Marie Walker, Vice President, The Corps Network
(202) 737-6272
mwalker@corpsnetwork.org

Luke Frazza, Project Development, Trout Headwaters, Inc.
(703) 244-7460
luke@troutheadwaters.com

Boiler Plate: 
From our partners at Trout Headwaters, Inc. comes news about enhancements to the Waders in the Water aquatic restoration training they offer to Corpsmembers.

Aquatic Restoration Training Reaches Corps in 16 States!

Act Now… Time Is Running Out!

Washington, DC – The Corps Network’s Waders in the Water live, online webinar training and certification is filling-up fast.
 

Online Delivery Slashes Cost of Green Jobs training!

 

Online Delivery Slashes Cost of Green Jobs training!

Download PDF version of thie Press Release

Industry Support Grows for Restoration Private-Public Partnership

Corps Network Vice President Marie Walker (C) and NJYC Phillipsburg members participate in a Waders in the Water class. To view video, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnW0CWV1UCI
 
Washington, DC – August 28, 2014 - Aquatic restoration businesses continue to express excitement as Youth Corps nationwide are receiving training and certification for climate-ready aquatic restoration. Graduates of the Waders in the Water training program, created by The Corps Network and Trout Headwaters Inc., will be skilled in aquatic safety, knowledgeable about installation techniques, and ready to provide business and government reliable restoration on streams, rivers and wetlands across the U.S. This industry-recognized credential will build important bridges to enable youth to enter conservation careers by learning how to improve the health, productivity, and climate-resiliency of our streams, rivers, and wetlands.

Trout Headwaters President Mike Sprague said: “I’ve been impressed by the excitement from businesses and government alike who have long wished for such a trained and skilled national workforce. It’s very gratifying to see such widespread support for this important program.”

Doug Lashley, CEO of GreenVest LLC and immediate Past President of the National Mitigation Banking Association, the leading organization in the country engaged in ecological restoration and conservation banking says “this movement presents an incredible opportunity to engage the youth of America to help reverse trends and conditions that impact our waters, streams, rivers and all forms of biodiversity.” Lashley added “Educating youth at an early age on best management practices and an appreciation of the environment will equip them for future jobs in the outdoors, enhance local economies, and most importantly, encourage an appreciation of the restoration of water quality impacting all forms of life. Corporate America can help support this opportunity through Public Private Partnerships as a method of complying with their growing internal sustainability initiatives. It is an investment with no limit on the returns.”
 
Building on the great traditions of the Civilian Conservation Corps since 1933, the Waders in the Water training and certification was built to further the goals of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps which aims to have 100,000 young people and veterans working to improve public lands and waters everywhere.
 
Youth Corps believe this training will enable their members to be hired for projects previously unavailable to them. Because Waders in the Water offers professional training from a third-party industry expert, clients can be confident in the quality of the workforce they are contracting.
 
Director of the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg (NJYCP) Michael Muckle said “I see this program improving not just the quality of our environment, but the quality of the lives of the people in service”. Muckle went on to say “While implementing streamside restoration measures might seem like trying to control the chaos of the natural order of things, we hope to show the participants that by making substantive, small improvements, the ripple effect downstream – literally and figuratively - are sometimes exponential.”
 
Trout Headwaters, Inc.

Trout Headwaters Inc. is the industry leader in sustainable approaches to stream, river, and wetland renewal and repair. As one of the oldest firms in the industry, THI has pioneered approaches using natural materials and native vegetation that can reliably replace hard, invasive treatments that often damage our nation’s streams and rivers. Besides developing and refining new techniques, THI is a staunch advocate for greater sharing of information and more consistent use of assessment and monitoring tools, providing greater certainty of environmental benefits to restoration.
 
Contact:
Luke Frazza, Project Development, Trout Headwaters, Inc.
703-244-7460
luke@troutheadwaters.com
 
New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg

Founded in 1998, New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg provides municipal support to the Town of Phillipsburg, NJ while offering hundreds of youth the opportunity to earn their GED as they serve their community. NJYC Phillipsburg’s conservation projects have included urban tree planting, Delaware River clean-ups, riparian buffer restorations, and assistance with the ecological maintenance of the White Lake Natural Resource Area and other Warren County properties.

Contact:
Michael Muckle, Director, New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg
(908) 859-2969
njycphil@verizon.net

 

Boiler Plate: 
Washington, DC – August 28, 2014 - Aquatic restoration businesses continue to express excitement as Youth Corps nationwide are receiving training and certification for climate-ready aquatic restoration.

Aquatic Restoration Jobs Training Program Continues to Gain Momentum

 
Los Angeles, CA – Aug. 5, 2014 - The Waders in the Water program pilot continues as another youth corps received training and certification for climate-ready aquatic restoration and its members emerged with skills in aquatic safety, knowledgeable about installation techniques, and ready to provide business and government with reliable restoration for streams, rivers and wetlands across the U.S.
 
America’s Service and Conservation Corps have a rich history of training a ready and able workforce of Americans. Tracing their roots back to the Civilian Conservation Corps’ (CCC) founding in 1933 when America was reeling from the Great Depression with staggering unemployment, modern day corps like the LA Conservation Corps share the CCC’s original goal to conserve natural resources and provide hope and employment opportunities for young adults.
 
Drawing on the best traditions of the CCC, The Waders in the Water Green Jobs training and certification was built to support the goals of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps’ (21 CSC) effort to put 100,000 young people and veterans a year to work nationwide protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors. Through the 21CSC, young people and veterans will accomplish meaningful work, and gain important personal and professional job skills while building a lifelong connection to the outdoors.
 
The curriculum was specifically designed by The Corps Network and Trout Headwaters Inc. to enable youth to enter conservation careers by learning how to improve the health, productivity and climate-resiliency of our streams, rivers, and wetlands.
 
Trout Headwaters President Mike Sprague said: “The positive feedback we continue to receive from our industry is very encouraging. Restoration project managers have told us they are eager to put these newly trained students to work on their projects.”
 
Wayne White, who spent 33 years at US Fish and Wildlife Service and is now Director of Business Development at Wildlands, Inc. remarked: “As someone who has spent my entire career perusing creative conservation solutions, the idea of training a national project-ready youth conservation workforce to help tackle the many environmental challenges we face really excites me.”
 
LA Conservation Corps Deputy Director Dan Knapp stated: “The LA Conservation Corps is pleased to partner with the Waders in the Water program training and certification. The program provides a strong benefit to the young people through job training and to the environment by improving the health of our waterways.”
 
The training is particularly well-suited for the LA Conservation Corps’ LA River Corps that is working to restore and revitalize sections of the river as the City of Los Angeles undertakes the ambitious project of restoring an 11-mile stretch of the river back to a sustainable and functioning precious aquatic resource with lush riparian buffers.
 
 
Trout Headwaters, Inc.
 
Trout Headwaters, Inc. is the industry leader in sustainable approaches to stream, river, and wetland renewal and repair. As one of the oldest firms in the industry, THI has pioneered approaches using natural materials and native vegetation that can reliably replace hard, invasive treatments that often damage our nation’s streams and rivers. Besides developing and refining new techniques THI is a staunch advocate for greater sharing of information and more consistent use of assessment and monitoring tools, providing greater certainty of environmental benefits to restoration.
 
Contact:
Luke Frazza, Project Development, Trout Headwaters, Inc.
(703)244-7460
luke@troutheadwaters.com
 
LA Conservation Corps
 
Founded in 1986, LA Conservation Corp’s primary mission has been to provide at-risk young adults and schoolaged youth with opportunities for success through job skills training, education, and work experience with an emphasis on conservation and service projects that benefit the community. It is the largest urban conservation corps serving over 8,000 young people a year. Since its founding in 1986, it has become a national leader in youth and workforce development and alternative education for inner-city youth/young adults. Their programs include paid
community beautification work in the Clean & Green program in addition to two full-time charter high schools where students can earn their high school diploma with an emphasis of becoming responsible citizens who will positively contribute to their communities and society.
 
Contact:
Dan Knapp, Deputy Director of Strategy and Sustainability, LA Conservation Corps
213-362-9000
dknapp@lacorps.org

 

Service and Conservation Corps Will Soon Add “Waders in the Water”

The Corps Network is working with Trout Headwaters, Inc. on a new training program to put “Waders in the Water.”  THI president Michael Sprague (pictured) says his company is looking forward to readying America’s youth and veterans for work along our waterways.