Next Generation of Aquatic Restoration Leaders: Michael Muckle

By Luke Frazza,
Trout Headwaters, Inc. 

 

Mike Muckle, director of the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg (NJYCP), a program of the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development, is passionate about aquatic restoration. That’s why, after attending The Corps Network 2014 National Conference and learning about Waders in the Water (WitW), the brand new aquatic restoration training built for The Corps Network, Mike volunteered his Corps to pilot the program. Since then, aquatic restoration has become the biggest focus of the NJYCP. Twenty-six Corpsmembers have earned their WitW certification and worked on multiple stream and wetland restoration projects.

Recently, Mike, now a representative to both The Corps Network’s Board of Directors and the Corps Council, took some time to explain where his enthusiasm for restoration came from and how it’s influenced NJYCP and its Corpsmembers.

Nineteen years ago, when Mike was the new program coordinator for NJYCP, he attended an Urban Waterways Restoration workshop designed for youth Service and Conservation Corps. The event was presented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps (now The Corps Network). Mike says that’s when he got the bug for environmental restoration work. After the workshop, Mike brought his interest in restoration back to NJYCP and he and his staff sought out those types of projects. It wasn’t long before NJYCP was partnering on nearby U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service projects

Over time, Mike realized the value of restoration work. However, upon being promoted to Director of NJYCP, he understood they would require additional resources in order to build their capacity to perform such projects.

“While we’ve done restoration work since I’ve been here,” Mike observed, “until recently we were never able to bring resources or funding back to our program.” Mike credits that change to the WitW third-party certification.

“Since our Corpsmembers have completed the WitW training, I’ve been able to secure funding for our program in return for project work our Corps was doing.”

Register your Corpsmembers here for the next WitW training.

Mike has discovered a trusted project partner in New Jersey Audubon’s (NJA) Stewardship Project Director John Parke. NJYCP now routinely partners with the NJA and others to restore local habitats and improve water quality on streams. As part of the growing Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI), NJA recently brought in NJYCP Corpsmembers to help plant 1,900 native trees and scrubs at five different riparian restoration projects near NJYCP. The projects were all funded by both the William Penn Foundation and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. During this work together, John Parke told Mike “there’s never been a shortage of project work, only a shortage of trained workers. This training and certification has addressed that issue, allowing us to provide qualified, competent, and informed candidates to work on these important ecological projects.”

After working on his first stream restoration project, 18-year-old NJYCP Corpsmembers/WitW graduate Zach Oefelein said: "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."

Mike happily shares that, with all the training and project work his Corpsmembers have done, “they now realize a career in ecological restoration is attainable, and that this important work to save our planet, is virtually all around them - in every community.”

Register for Waders in the Water here

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.” 

Gulf Coast Corpmembers Awarded Scholarships to Participate in Waders in the Water Training

Members of the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast install a living shoreline
 

Waders in the Water Certified Corpsmembers Partner to Help Private Land Owners 

Waders in the Water graduates from the New Jersey Youth Corps Phillipsburg restore a riparian buffer 
 

Submitted by Luke Frazza
Trout Headwaters, Inc.

In another creative private-public partnership, Waders in the Water (WitW) graduates from the New Jersey Youth Corps Phillipsburg partnered with the New Jersey Audubon and the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority/Wallkill River Watershed Management Group to work with private landowners in the Highlands region to restore habitat and improve water quality. The planting project will help reduce excess phosphorous, considered by the EPA, "one of America's most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems."  

Register Here for the Waders in the Water class

Graduates have participated in the WitW interactive, webinar-delivered training that instructs students in:

  • Common industry tools, techniques, and processes 
  • Workplace safety
  • Proven, Practical, & Innovative Habitat Enhancement 

Certified graduates have a path to projects, jobs, and careers in the $10B/Yr. restoration economy and certified corps are better positioned to participate in the growing number of Public-private Restoration partnerships

What creative private-public partnerships await your trained and certified corpsmembers?
 


The next two-day training takes place:      

Mon.  June 20, 2016 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EDT

Tues. June 21, 2016 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EDT

This Training meets 2 times. Attendees are expected to attend both sessions.

 
Class size is limited so Register Here Today!

Contact info@troutheadwaters  with any questions.

Out There - Florida's Backcountry

By Crew Leaders, Abbey Toomer & Shane Murphy, who along with Andrew Oliver (pictured above) and their crew participants from Community Training Works (CTW) & Young American Conservation Corps (YACC) have worked along the Florida National Scenic Trail, Apalachicola National Forests, Osceola National Forest and trained crew at CCFC's first project in City of Apalachicola, to name a few locations.

Being crew leaders working Florida’s backcountry can be both exhilarating and miserable. We’ve been on the job from the swamps of Okeechobee, the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve to the tall pines and ravines of the panhandle.  Florida’s climate provides an awesome year round growing season but leaves us with only 5 to 6 months of cooler weather for a safe working environment in the thicket of lush vegetation one finds in the southernmost state.

Since the sheer volume of work potential is staggering on a peninsula over 500 miles long and 160 miles wide, we just focus day to day maintaining trails, creating new trails, building and repairing footbridges, adding blazing and signage, or installing farm fence. These are just a few of the projects we've done in our couple years as a Forestry crew. While front country projects can be approached as any normal work day, most of the sites have been in the remote backcountry where commuting is unfeasible requiring hiking in fully equipped to camp overnight on “hitches” from 2 days up to 2 weeks. Out there we’ve encountered hot and freezing temperatures, dangerous thunderstorms as well as rambunctious wildlife and swarming insects. The upside is the food tastes better over a hot campfire and the stars really do grab your attention on a clear night. So with a positive attitude plus training and resources we were able to be successful with each project helping to preserve these less travelled forgotten environments of Florida.

As the season winds down and the typical hotter months return there are opportunities for further certifications in Wilderness First Aid & CPR, Wild land Fire training, Trout Headwaters “Wader’s in the Water Basic & Level 2 and advanced chain saw training.  It’s a great time to meet with other corps to share ideas and learn new methods of back country work and lifestyle.  It has been a privilege to train new corps members in their local communities and we welcome members from other corps to check out our projects in the sunshine state!  Roughin’ it and lovin’ itl!
 

 

Trained Corpsmembers Work on Climate Resilience Across the Nation

Submitted by Luke Frazza
Trout Headwaters, Inc.

 

Please join us in wishing good luck to the first ever group of Resilience AmeriCorps as they join Waders in the Water (WitW) graduates across the country working on-the-ground to help develop and implement local climate resilience plans.

Waders in the Water (WitW) graduates from a broad spectrum of conservation corps nationwide have been battling climate change since WitW was deployed almost two years ago.

Certified corpsmembers have worked on climate resilient projects including:

  • Wetland mitigation projects in multiple states to offset adverse development impacts
  • Stream restoration with the New Jersey Audubon Society
  • NFWF Wetland Restoration project in Washington, DC
  • Coastal stream and ecological data collection to support the Corps Network’s own Coastal Streams and Habitat Restoration and Management Initiative in the Gulf.

WitW was designed to introduce students to sustainable aquatic restoration techniques by teaching them how to improve the climate-resiliency of our streams, rivers, and wetlands while inspiring participants to become the next generation of stewards of our natural and cultural resources. It offers an opportunity to earn the only private restoration industry-recognized credential in the installation of aquatic restoration projects.

The planet we share, and the growing restoration economy needs a trained workforce now.      

         Register Here for an upcoming Waders in the Water class

The next two-day training takes place:       

Mon.  Jan. 25, 2016  - 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EST

Tues. Jan. 26, 2016  - 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EST

This Training meets 2 times. Attendees are expected to attend both sessions.

Class size is limited so Register Here Today!

Contact Luke Frazza with any questions luke@troutheadwaters.com

New Policies Create Opportunities for Waders in the Water-trained Youth

Submitted by Luke Frazza
Trout Headwaters, Inc.


New Waters in the Water students can now take advantage of a revised syllabus, a new edition training manual, and numerous EcoBlu Analyst platform updates. All these improvements coincide with the just announced federal conservation policies by the White House, and immediately echoed by the Dept. of Interior, that will create many new opportunities for Waders in the Water certified Conservation Corpsmembers.

These new directives mandate federal agencies to give preference to advance compensation mechanisms like mitigation banks to offset unavoidable environmental impacts from new development, infrastructure, and energy exploration.

Michael Sprague, Trout Headwaters CEO and Waders in the Water instructor, consulted with DOI, USFWS, and BLM for several years before issuance of these new directives. The new policies incorporate many of the principles of compensatory mitigation outlined in the National Mitigation Banking Association's Universal Principles of Compensatory Mitigation report released in July of 2015 which Sprague co-authored.

Let your Corpsmembers train with those who truly understand the restoration economy.   Register Here Now!

The restoration community is ramping-up in response, and increasing investments in conservation projects on private and public lands, adding to the already rapidly expanding U.S. restoration industry that now creates more than 120,000 jobs and nearly $10B in direct economic activity every year.

In response to the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps' (21CSC) effort to put young people and veterans to work nationwide, the Waders in the Water green jobs training and certification was specifically designed under a public-private partnership between The Corps Network and Trout Headwaters, Inc.

Waders in the Water:

  • introduces students to sustainable aquatic restoration techniques by teaching them how to improve the climate-resiliency of our streams, rivers, and wetlands
  • offers them an opportunity to earn an industry-recognized credential
  • is the only private restoration industry-recognized program for the installation of aquatic restoration projects
  • inspires participants to become the next generation of stewards of our natural and cultural resources

According to Adam Davis, Partner and Director of Research, Policy, & New Markets for Ecosystem Investment Partners in San Rafael, California:

"A highly-trained Youth Corps workforce will be a powerful tool for the restoration economy. There is certainly no shortage of work to be done." 

And Michael Gaffney of the White Mountain Youth Corps remarked:

"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." 

The Restoration Economy is calling. Register Here for an upcoming Waders in the Water class

The next two-day training takes place:       

  • Thurs. Dec. 17, 2015 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EST
  • Fri.      Dec. 18, 2015 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EST

This Training meets 2 times. Attendees are expected to attend both sessions.

Class size is limited so Register Here Today!


Contact Luke Frazza with any questions luke@troutheadwaters.com

 

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.

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

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