Photos of the Month - July 2017

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps social pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from July 2017.




American Conservation Experience



Ancestral Lands



Anchorage Park Foundation



Civicorps



EcoServants



Greater Valley Conservation Corps



Greencorps Chicago



Montgomery County Conservation Corps



Nevada Conservation Corps



PowerCorps PHL




St. Bernard Project



SEEDS



Southwest Conservation Corps



Utah Conservation Corps (ft. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell)


Vermont Youth Conservation Corps




Washington Conservation Corps

California Conservation Corps Veterans Fisheries Program


Corps play an essential role in helping preserve our waterways. In 2016 alone, Corps restored 2,551 miles of waterway.

We're recognizing California Conservation Corps' and NOAA for their Veterans Fishery Program. Learn about how this partnership expands opportunities for Veterans and helps improve aquatic habitats.



In partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, California Conservation Corps (CCC) Veterans Corps began their fisheries program in 2012. The program started in Northern California with hopes to expand to Southern California by 2014. 

The goal of the program is to address two national priorities: 1) support and promote job opportunities for veterans; and 2) protect and restore endangered species. 

The Veterans Corps fisheries program is unique from other Veterans Corps in that it provides post-9/11 veterans opportunities to build their skills and gain work experience by restoring habitat for endangered salmon and steelhead. The Corps participants conduct research and monitor the species in their natural habitats. Many other Veterans Corps programs across the country focus primarily on forestry work and wilderness firefighting. 

Due to low funding and limited staff, NOAA Fisheries depends heavily on the CCC Veterans Corps to aid in salmon and steelhead recovery. Veterans are mentored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC), the U.S. Forest Service, and local non-profits. Veterans and partners work on improvement projects identified by NOAA’s Fisheries’ salmon and steelhead recovery plans and gain knowledge about the complex needs of aquatic habitats. 

Since 2013, veterans have assisted with 133 restoration projects. Veterans constructed temporary fishways at the mouths of 20 tributaries, allowing threatened salmon access to cold water within the Klamath River; constructed off-channel habitats to provide crucial overwintering habitat for coho salmon; and deconstructed and modified fish passages to allow endangered southern California steelhead access to upstream spawning habitat. 

“Collectively, all the Veterans within this program have surveyed more than 423 miles of stream for juvenile fish and more than 2,122 miles of stream for spawning adult fish. They have also assessed 122 miles of stream habitat,” said Dana Howard, CCC Communications Director. “This monitoring helps guide future management and restoration decisions that will pave the way for species recovery.” 

Through the partnership between NOAA and the CCC, veterans receive on-the-ground training and have the chance to work side-by-side with fisheries biologists and experts. With this knowledge and experience, veterans have a stake in the competitive work pool and can find permanent employment in environmental and natural resource fields. 

NOAA and CCC credit veterans and the environment as “two of the nation’s most valuable resources.” Howard states, “By providing the training and skills necessary to pursue a career in the natural resources, this program helps young veterans transition to civilian life and continue serving our country in a way that also fills a critical need for improving our fisheries and watersheds…Veterans gain skills by developing real-world experience in natural resources fields encompassing fisheries biology, habitat restoration, project development, and many other areas. In addition, veterans in the program are eligible to receive college tuition and a $5,000 AmeriCorps education award.” 

The Veteran Corps is currently searching for funding and partners to continue sustaining the program, not only for the environment but for the veterans as well. Over a 10-year period, NOAA and CCC hope to 

establish secure funding for the program totaling $4.4M, or $440,000 per year, to employ 12 veterans annually. With this effort, placement sites would be at CCC centers throughout the state. 

NOAA and CCC have discussed expanding the program throughout California to areas including California’s Central Valley and the area between Mendocino County and Monterey County, as well as further south into southern California.

Single Identity-Based Crews Research: Update from the Road No. 1

As part of her studies at the University of Oregon, graduate student Jordan Katcher plans to create a toolkit that provides resources for increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (D,E,I) within Conservation Corps programming. To do this, Jordan hopes to combine academic research with insights from the field.

During the summer of 2017, Jordan is traveling throughout the country to visit several Corps that operate identity-based programs (e.g. Veterans Crews, ASL Inclusion Crews, Native Youth Crews, LGBTQ Crews, All-Female Crews, etc.). She'll be conducting interviews and gathering information about innovative and effective practices. The Corps Network is hosting a blog where Jordan will share her experiences.

 


By Jordan Katcher - submitted July 7, 2017

Background:

Hello all! My name is Jordan Katcher and I am a current Community & Regional Planning graduate student at the University of Oregon. For my master’s degree, I have the opportunity to complete a professional project of my own choosing; given my background serving with AmeriCorps and working for Conservation Legacy, I knew I wanted to focus my research on increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (D,E,I) within the outdoors.

Coming from the Conservation Corps family, I know how difficult it can be to oversee program logistics while maintaining sustainable relationships with members, team leaders, community partners, and funders. It’s a lot to juggle, and being able to perform thorough program evaluations and share what’s happening throughout the larger network of Conservation Corps can also be a struggle, too.

Knowing the limitations that face Conservation Corps led me to think more about D, E, I practices within these organizations, especially as I started to learn more about “single identity-based crew” models. Throughout the country, several Conservation Corps have initiated single identity-based crews that not only create access for traditionally marginalized populations within the Conservation Corps world, but also integrate and share the identities of these members within the larger environmental movement.

Knowing about several single identity-based crews, such as the Utah Conservation Corps Disability Inclusion Crew, the Northwest Youth Corps American Sign Language Inclusion Crew, and the Idaho Conservation Corps All-Women Crew, led me to think more about how important these crews are and how crucial it is that the evolution of these crews be shared throughout the larger Conservation Corps network. I decided to create a toolkit that combines both on-the-ground experience as well as academic research centering on single identity-based crews.

Once I solidified my professional project scope, I partnered with The Corps Network to set up site visits with Conservation Corps across the country. I was also honored to speak with Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin and Ava Holliday from The Avarna Group (who recently published a blog post on the importance of supporting single identity spaces), who assisted me in creating a list of interview questions for each of these site visits.

Two weeks ago, I embarked on my first of three road trips this summer. My first road trip covered the upper Midwest region, where I had the honor of visiting: Montana Conservation Corps in Bozeman, MT; Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa in St. Paul, MN; and SEEDS Youth Conservation Corps in Traverse City, MI. My second road trip will focus on the Northeast region, and my third will focus on the Southwest region. For each of these trips, I’ll be guest blogging for The Corps Network, and sharing bits of my findings with all of you. I want these blog posts to serve as a catalyst for ongoing conversation related to D,E,I initiatives, so definitely reach out to these conservation corps to keep the conversations going!

 

Visits in the Midwest:

Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) Site Visit – Bozeman, Montana

MCC implements single identity-based crews for Native American youth and veterans. Both of these programs formed out of funding opportunities that came up in the past. For MCC, initiating and supporting these crews takes a great amount of work, but, if you qualify the assets and opportunities of these crews, it’s an incredibly important part of their D,E,I goals and objectives. These programs offer so much value to program participants and staff, and MCC highly values the new perspectives that come from these crews.

For their veterans crew, MCC invested in a number of resources for their members, including paying veterans a higher stipend ($150 more each paycheck), providing housing, offering a scholarship program, and giving actual certification for post-service job opportunities. For their initiatives with Native American youth, MCC would like to eventually create an advisory committee of Native American youth that would involve members, alumni, and partners deciding what crews need and want for their crew experiences. MCC has also been able to implement increased resources for their single identity-based crews through The Kendeda Fund.

For MCC, they would like to define the success of their crews from more of a quality than a quantity standpoint. One of their questions is, “outside of numbers, how do we tell the stories of these programs to funders?” Additionally, what recruitment and retention strategies are there for single identity-based crews?

 

Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa (CCMI) Site Visit – St. Paul, Minnesota

CCMI implements a Native American crew, called Restoring Relations, which began in the summer of 2015 in partnership with local community stakeholders. Additionally, while CCMI does not run a single identity-based American Sign Language Inclusion (ASL) Crew, they do provide many opportunities to ASL crew members within their existing crews.

The Restoring Relations Crew evolved out of CCMI asking how they can change their program models and their assumptions to genuinely provide worthwhile opportunities for Native American youth. CCMI hopes that, through Restoring Relations, there is a space for Native American youth to dive into nature through their own identity and history; this starts from in the very beginning of the program when, during training, crew members take a trip down the Mississippi River in traditional boats.

Like MCC, CCMI wants to strengthen more relationships with Native American leaders and have more voices at the table. Currently, their program is based in the Twin Cities, but they’re thinking about expanding in northern Minnesota once they reach capacity.

With Restoring Relations, CCMI provides time for smudging in the morning. The Corps really focuses on reflection across the board, working with crew leaders to decide what kind of reflection activities make the most sense. CCMI strives to be flexible and ready to listen in order to understand what may or may not work for the crew each year.

For CCMI, they would like more resources to educate their staff to feel more knowledgeable about multiple historical narratives of the land, places, and people that they’re working with. They’d also like to know more about recruitment and retention strategies, as well as ways to talk with staff, crew members, and youth about identities within the outdoor environment.

 

SEEDS Youth Conservation Corps (SEEDS) Visit – Traverse City, Michigan

SEEDS noticed that the majority of their crew members were male. In response, they decided to launch an all-women crew, called GURLS Corps (Girls United in Resilience, Leadership and Service), in hopes that this initiative would integrate more females into their organization. All the crew members identified as female and came from the foster care system.

Since SEEDS knew many of these crew members had difficult pasts, they wanted to invest in a well-trained, considerate, and understanding team leader, so they hired a woman with experience as an after-school educator. The crew model allowed for crew members to organically share stories about their foster care experiences and connect with one another. The focus of the program was not only about job experience, but also about providing an opportunity for female crew members to be in a healthy environment.

SEEDS also partners with local tribes for crew model development. Local tribes assist in recruitment and provide half the funding for the initiatives. SEEDS provides the training and materials needed for the service experiences.

Most of SEEDS’ single identity-based crew initiatives, whether focused on female, Native American, or foster care identities, form out of their partnerships with social services, schools, family courts, and tribes. SEEDS is also very conscious about how they approach their crew experiences; they’ve invested in a holistic approach that focuses on integration between social and ecological aspects (including all species).

For SEEDS, they would like resources on understanding the respective benefits of integrated and single identity-based spaces; what unique experiences come from each model, and how do you decide on one model or the other? They’d also like to see stories on how other Conservation Corps approach the work they need to do with an ecological, social, and/or STEM focus; how are Corps integrating STEM into their every day practices? Additionally, SEEDS is interested in comparing price points for their crew expenses; how much are Corps spending on training, uniforms, and supplies?

 

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for my next blog post in a few weeks. If you have any questions about my research, have D, E, I resources that have worked for your crews, or would like to set up a potential site visit, please reach out to me via email at jkatcher@uoregon.edu

Moving Forward Initiative - What it is and What to Expect

"Moving Forward, Together"

 

The Work
Launched by The Corps Network (TCN) in the spring of 2017 through a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant, the Moving Forward Initiative is designed to identify, examine, and address unconscious bias and structural racism impacting the Corps movement. The goal is to expand career exposure and increase employment in conservation and resource management for youth and young adults of color.

TCN describes our work in racial equity as a journey. The start of this journey is the development of a foundation of knowledge on which to examine racism in the United States and understand our own personal and professional connections to institutional racism. To build this foundational knowledge, The Corps Network is actively curating a library of articles, essays, academic studies, films, podcasts and other materials that will be housed here on The Corps Network’s website. This library will be updated on a regular basis. We will also publish original blogs, share questions, host discussions, and provide other means of engaging in this journey and thinking about race and racism.

“If racism was constructed, it can be undone. It can be undone if people understand when it was constructed, why it was constructed, how it functions, and how it is maintained.” – The People’s Institute
 

Why It’s Important at This Time 
It has become clear to us at The Corps Network that, as MLK Jr. once stated, there is, “a fierce urgency of now” in addressing the issue of racial equity in the world of conservation and the communities where our Corps work. The Corps Network realizes that we must be proactive in addressing the deeply imbedded and historically ingrained racial inequities that impact all of us, and particularly our Corpsmembers. Young adults of color represent roughly half of our Corpsmembers, and, with the development of native youth programs and the expansion of Corps in both urban and rural areas, we realize that this number will grow.

Failure to address systems and knowledge deficits that limit opportunities for Corps and Corpsmembers would be antithetical to our mission of helping Corps empower America’s youth. As the national liaison between Corps, which train the next generation of conservation professionals, and the agencies that hire such professionals, TCN is uniquely positioned to – with the guidance of experts in racial equity – help make racial equity the standard in resource management.
 

Upcoming
On August 17, 2017, we will introduce our first blog that will look at the experience of people of color within the Civilian Conservation Corps and introduce you to the works of Olen Cole, Nikhil Swaminathan and Daniel Medina.

Next Generation of Aquatic Restoration Leaders: Holden Foley

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.


When ten-year-old Holden Foley was helping his oysterman dad and grandpa on their boat in Franklin County, Florida, he didn’t know what other options he had. He never imagined that, 13 years later, he’d be helping to restore and protect the waters he grew up on, while mentoring young men and women looking for something better: just like he was.

Oystering is hard work for a young boy. Holden started by culling the oysters, or sorting and grading each one by shape and size. As he got older, he started tonging for them with a long rake, scouring the Apalachicola Bay floor for shellfish gold. Holden spent every summer on the boat until he entered high school and discovered a way out of summer oystering. High School football in Florida meant practicing all summer and Holden was happy to trade his tong for some shoulder pads.

After graduating high school, Holden took a job in construction, but, after a few years, he felt stuck at a dead-end. During his time in construction, Holden worked on projects for Franklin’s Promise Coalition, Inc. (FPC) in Apalachicola. That’s when he met Joe Taylor, Executive Director for FPC.  Joe offered Holden another path. He said if Holden joined the newly-formed Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast (CCFC), he would have career opportunities working outdoors to improve the environment. Holden was particularly excited because he loves the outdoors and previously thought having a career meant being stuck inside at a desk all day.

Holden joined the Corps in June 2015 and soon found himself busy with a variety of outdoor projects. He built and repaired nature trails and used his construction background to help build a playground and renovate recreation centers and parks for the City of Apalachicola.

After eight short weeks in the program, Holden was promoted to crew leader. Just six months later, he was promoted to his current position of field manager/instructor. Along the way, Holden has completed many training classes and earned multiple certifications.

Holden participated in the Waders in the Water (WitW) Level I program in 2016 and found it helpful for many of the projects he worked on. It gave him a much better understanding of the terminology used in aquatic restoration, and greatly expanded his understanding of hydrology and the interdependency of aquatic systems. He now better understands how the precipitation falling on local forests makes its way to the bay. When Holden underwent the WitW training, he and his crew members had just started work on a living shoreline; he was able to use his newfound aquatic knowledge on that project to help protect vanishing shorelines and vulnerable species.

Before the WitW class, Holden had no idea there were so many restoration jobs available. Earning the WitW certification inspired him to seek out more environmental training; he’s currently completing a construction course entitled Your Role in the Green Environment to add to the Corps certification offerings.

Now 23 and married to his wife, Tristen, Holden plans to stay with CCFC and hopes to build affordable housing for the City of Apalachicola while continuing to lead CCFC corps members on restoration projects. Holden wants to stay a member of the FCP management team and reflected “I’ve been there, so I want to return the favor granted to me and offer these young people some better opportunities.”

Pictured above: Holden (red hat) and his corpsmembers bag oyster shells for one of their living shoreline projects.

Photos of the Month - June 2017

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.” 

Photos of the Month - May 2017

Sweat and Long Hours: Texas Conservation Corps Puts in the Work to Maintain Trails

Corps play an essential role in helping address the maintenance backlog on America’s public trails. In 2016 alone, young adults enrolled in member organizations of The Corps Network built or improved almost 22,000 miles of trail!

In honor of National Trails Day this Saturday, June 3, we’re recognizing Trails Across Texas (TAT), an AmeriCorps program of Austin-based Texas Conservation Corps (TxCC) at American YouthWorks. Learn about how the TAT crew connects their community to trails and helps get more people outdoors.


 

Meet the Crew Leaders:

Trail work isn’t easy. Keeping popular public trails in operation requires hours of physical labor, often in harsh conditions. However, as the members of the Trails Across Texas (TAT) program at Austin-based Texas Conservation Corps will tell you, maintaining trails is one of the most rewarding jobs out there.

“Trail crews put in sweat and long hours to make the public's experience greater,” said Ian Munoz, a TAT Crew Leader. “It’s hard, but I do it because it brings me joy like nothing else. I am constantly motivated by my surroundings when I’m working on a trail. Having the chance to work on or create something that people from all over can come to enjoy will keep me working on a trail crew for as long as I can.”

Born and raised in El Paso, Munoz is a self-described “Texas Outdoorsman” who joined TAT to give back to his home state. He recently led a project at Bastrop State Park in Central Texas. Using chainsaws and a range of hand tools – including mattocks, Pulaskis, shovels and McLeods – the crew removed hazardous trees and constructed hundreds of feet of new tread for the Lost Pine Loop.   

“With all of these tools comes daily maintenance and skills to keep them working well,” said Munoz. “The skills needed for chainsaw operation and hazard felling can be overwhelming, but safety and sound judgement are essential. With trail digging comes the skill to understand the science of water-flow and erosion.”
 


 

Managing water-flow is critical to maintaining trails. Karissa Killian, another TAT Crew Leader, also recently served at Bastrop. In addition to felling hazardous trees, her crew removed woody debris from the downslope of the trail. This allows water to flow off the trail instead of pooling.

“Trail crews maintain trails so that users can enjoy them,” said Killian. “We focus on making trails sustainable so that they can be used by many future generations.”

A native of Salt Lake City, Killian graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science. Her first job was with a U.S. Forest Service trails and wilderness crew. Her passion for this work led her to the TAT program, where she became immersed in the routine of working and living outdoors on multi-day assignments, or “hitches.”

“I enjoy working outside, using my hands, and being engaged in physical activity,” said Killian. “[Trail work] is like working in a community. Everyone is so nice and supportive. It can be a hard transition to living on hitch for most of your time, but it is rewarding to make close connections with other crewmembers.”

The TAT crewmembers are a diverse group of young men and women. Some came to TAT with experience in the outdoors, while others came from office jobs, looking to get more in touch with nature. As AmeriCorps members, these young adults receive a modest stipend for their service and can receive an AmeriCorps education award (scholarship) upon completing their service. Through their day-to-day service with the TAT program, the crewmembers gain the skills and experience to later seek jobs in conservation and lands management. Here are some of their insights from the trail.

 

 

Meet Trails Across Texas Crewmembers:

Carl Woody
Age: 28
Austin, TX

“Before this I did a previous AmeriCorps program, but before that I was working at a law office for about 3 years. So, this is a little bit different from what I’ve been doing before.”

“I absolutely feel more connected with nature. When it is your office and your home, you kind of have to appreciate it. You learn to really care for what’s important and how important it is to take care of the environment. It’s the only one we’ve got, so we might as well take the best care of it we can.”

“Well, trail work requires a lot of communication and team work. It’s 10 people trying to accomplish one goal at the same time, so you have to really know how to work with each other and communicate well.

“What do I like the most? I just like working with my hands a lot. Getting dirty, hard work, sweating a lot, obviously. What do I like the least? Probably sweating a lot…it’s hot and nasty outside here most of the time.”

“I’m actually going to graduate school next fall for environmental policy and environmental science. So, keep fighting the good fight!”

 

Brigid MulRoe
Age: 22
Malta, NJ

“Before I joined this program, I graduated from college a year ago and I did another Conservation Corps last fall, just for 3 months. I liked it so much; I got a little taste of the Conservation Corps world and decided that I wanted to do more, so I joined the Texas Conservation Corps for a 5-month term.”

My perspective on the environment has definitely changed since I’ve been living outside every day in a tent. We’re definitely forced to get up close and personal with the dirt and bugs and the rain, but I have really enjoyed it! I think that I feel a lot more connected to the work that I’m doing than if I were just sitting in an office thinking about it.”

“I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was. Just the fact that I’m capable of doing this work has surprised me and made me think about myself a lot differently”

“I really enjoy hitch life and living with a group of 10 people that are coming from different places and have totally different perspectives on everything, but working as a team when working on the trail or camp life. The thing I like the least, at least for this week is the bugs. Bombarded with ants, mosquitoes, chiggers, so we’re all learning to deal with that.”

“I’m planning on doing another AmeriCorps program. An emergency response program in St. Louis.”

 

Arturo Gonzalez
Age: 25
Salinas, CA

“Before this program I was in a back country trails crew with an AmeriCorps program with a California Conservation Corps. My supervisor told me about the TxCC program, so I came here after that.”

“I feel like I already was connected to nature. I really love nature, so even though I enjoyed it before, I still enjoy it now.”

“Being on this crew has taught me that you don’t need technology or a lot of the stuff that you’re used to having.”

“The things I enjoy the most about being on TAT crew is probably all the hiking and the general work itself, especially backcountry style rock work. My least favorite is probably chores, especially dishes.”

“Right after this, I’m not sure what I want to do, but I am gold-listed to be a sponsor for a backcountry trails crew.”

 

Michael “Mikey” Thomas
Age: 29
Rhode Island & Austin, TX

“I’m originally from Rhode Island but I’ve lived in Texas since I was 15 years old. I have lived in Austin for 11 years now. Before I joined TxCC, I was a kitchen lead at a restaurant. I have been doing that, primarily, my whole life. I was traveling and playing music, also.”

“I would say I always felt connected to nature, but through this program I feel more so.”

“As for what I’ve learned through this program - Lots of technique, but as far as life skills or lessons, there is a level of contentment that you learn when you’re outside, away from everything for 10 days at a time. You find pleasure in simple things; when you go back into the city, that carries over. So, I’m more content in general.”

“I love the work itself. I like the lifestyle of living in a small group and sharing food. I also like the solitude and rock, tread, and chainsaw work. There’s nothing I don’t really like. I enjoy working with my hands, so I like it all.”

“The initial goal coming here was to get a job doing park maintenance, but after doing this for a long time, I think I would like to eventually get into trail design and layout.”

 

Ryan Garwood
North Texas

“I’ve been living in Austin, TX for about 5 years now. Originally, I am from North Texas. Before this, I was working in an automotive shop.”

“I joined this program to do something new. I started working in the shop and being in the daily grind, and then I found this job on Craigslist. I didn’t know it was in Austin and I had been living in Austin for 5 years and never heard about it. Thankfully I found it and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

“Since working on this crew, I feel way more connected to nature now. Being out 10 days at a time, you definitely get one-on-one with nature. One of the biggest things I have learned is just how powerful nature really is. That it can rebuild itself; the elements are very powerful.”

“The most valuable lesson I have learned is walk in a single file line, not shoulder to shoulder so you don’t broaden the trail out.”

I like the comradery of the trail crew. It’s like a family environment everyone has each other’s back. Do chores, one person does one thing, and another person does another thing and it all works out. My least favorite thing is probably the bugs and insects, and creepy crawlies.”

“After my term of service, I would like to do another term, but, at the end of the day, I would like to be in Texas Parks and Wildlife or do some firefighting. That would be cool.”

 

Anna Jones
Age: 21
Waco, TX

“Before this I was working in a zoo at their gift shop, and before that I was working as a grocery store clerk. I heard about TxCC on Reddit and it sounded like something I would be interested in and maybe a career field that I would like to move towards. I’m really glad I made the decision!”

“I do feel more connected to nature. I’ve never really camped a lot in my life, only once before this program. It’s a different experience completely to be out in the wilderness for 10 days at a time. Especially out at Cap Rock where we were primitive camping, which was a unique experience but I really enjoyed it! Something I have learned about nature is that it is amazing what the environment can do. Out at Cap Rock we had to the stone staircase, because the rain just carves out gullies and stuff. Erosion is a big thing, it’s amazing what can happen to the earth over a span of a few years.”

“Honestly, my favorite part about this work is probably camp related things. Learning how to live out here and learning to live with minimal things. It’s a very different life than living in the city with all of these things you think you need, until you just go out into the wilderness and realize you don’t need any of them.”

“I think what I enjoy the most is honestly the comradery in the crew. You get so close with these people, working with them 10 days at a time and living with them for hours. My least favorite thing is probably the bugs. I love animals, just not insects. They get in my tent and it’s very upsetting.”

“After this, I plan to go back and finish off my degree. I want to get a degree in Wildlife Biology.”

 

Josh DelRio
Age: 28

“I joined TxCC for a new experience. Before TxCC, I was playing Rock n’ Roll and working for a moving company.”

“My perspective on nature has changed. What I’ve learned is that nature heals itself pretty readily, considering what humans do to it. That’s definitely the best thing I have learned about trails and nature.”

The most valuable skill I have learned is how to live outside for more than a week. Definitely got that on lock down.

“Being on a trail crew, at least for TAT, we’ve been to a lot of different areas. So, being able to go to all of those places and different environments were the coolest part. My least favorite, recently, is the chiggers.”

“After my term of service, I would like to get into wildland firefighting. Hopefully get the Travis County fire rescue gig. Somewhere around there, chainsaws are cool and fire is awesome. After seeing that at Cooper Lake, that probably sparked my interest very much.”

 

 

 

A Message from Our CEO: How You Can Take Action in Response to the President's FY18 Budget

Please use our template messages below to tell Congress and your Community about how these cuts would negatively affect Corps.
 


View Budget Summary

Click here to scroll to the bottom for Action Items


 

Dear Friends,­

You probably heard in the news that President Trump released his first budget proposal. As we previewed in March, we have significant reason for concern and we need your help over the coming months to ensure this budget does not go into effect.

Why are we concerned? This budget shows where the administration’s priorities are, and it’s not good news for our federal partners.  The President’s Budget proposes the complete elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which includes AmeriCorps and VISTA. It also proposes massive cuts to public lands funding at USDA and the Forest Service of 21 percent, and a 11 percent cut to the Department of Interior, with National Park Service taking a bigger cut at 13 percent. Department of Labor would also be cut by 20% including the Job Corps, YouthBuild and WIOA programs. 

If these cuts go into effect, they would have a devastating impact on our Corps and opportunities for our Corpsmembers and partners around the country. I want to let you know that we are paying close attention to these issues in DC. We are working hard to advocate for the funding Corps need to continue engaging youth and veterans in serving our communities and nation.

While President Trump’s proposals are hugely concerning, Congress makes the final decision on spending. Just this month, we saw Congress provide respectable funding levels for FY17, indicating they may not have the appetite for the President’s proposed level of cuts in FY18. Congress is already expressing concern over President Trump’s budget, and there is near certainty of major changes. However, it’s important to remember there are other ways, beyond funding, in which the President can influence which activities federal agencies prioritize.

This is why we must keep the pressure on our Members of Congress and use our most effective local tools - your voice - to let Congress know that #CorpsWorkPlease use our press release template to reach local media, and template budget and appropriations support letters to reach your House and Senate members today to tell them about the impact these cuts would have on your community.

You are already having an impact! For FY17, AmeriCorps continued at a $40 million increased level over FY15, and the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, along with Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee (which funds AmeriCorps), both joined a resolution honoring AmeriCorps. Additionally, all the key accounts that fund Corps’ public lands projects received funding increases.

Your ongoing support for The Corps Network, through membership and your advocacy with elected officials, makes this possible. We need your continued engagement with our public lands and national service advocacy. If we reach out to you, please take a few minutes to help! Everyone’s voice is important and we need to make a stand now to send a message these cuts cannot continue for another four years.

The Corps Network’s mission statement is “Strengthening America through Service and Conservation.” Unfortunately, the President’s proposed budget would hurt both service and conservation efforts, consequently effecting our country as whole. We have been through tough budget cycles before, and have weathered cuts for a number of years already, but this is an unprecedented threat. Know that we are working hard for you in DC, but we need your help on the ground. Please use our template press release and letters.

Thank you, as always, for all that you do. Keep up the good work!

Mary Ellen Sprenkel
CEO
The Corps Network

 


ACTION ITEMS & RESOURCES

Below find template letters you can send to your Members of Congress to request support for federal agencies and funding important to Corps. Not sure who your members of Congress are or how to contact them? See below for Congressional Directories: 
      - U.S. Senate Directory
      - U.S. House Directory

 

 

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