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

Photos of the Month - May 2017

Engaging Youth of Color in the Outdoors

Most Corps engage young adults age 16 and over. However, in honor of the National Park Trust's Kids to Parks Day this Saturday, May 20, we interviewed a Corps that provides stellar programming for younger kids in their community. Learn about how Greening Youth Foundation in Atlanta helps educate youth of color about how they can get involved in conservation. 



Greening Youth Foundation (GYF), located in Atlanta, GA, provides environmental education programming for youth of color ranging from kindergarten to twelfth grade. GYF serves City of Atlanta Recreation Centers, Hollis Innovation Academy, Dunbar Elementary, and Boys & Girls Clubs.

There are three distinct sections of GYF’s education program: CLEAN curriculum, the Green Speaker series, and field trips.

CLEAN curriculum - Children Living Energetically and Advancing Nature - was developed specifically for the demographic area GYF serves . It teaches environmental literacy to youth of color and engages them in the outdoors.

The Green Speaker series gives youth of color the opportunity to hear from professionals in conservation, environmental science, and STEM who look like them; something most youth of color don’t see on a daily basis. After learning the basics about a given career field from GYF, students get to dive deeper by listening to speakers discuss what it’s like in that occupation. In the past, a marine biologist, who happens to be a woman of color, introduced the students to the world of studying the oceans, discussing her work with sea turtles and the human impact on them.


Lastly, field trips play a significant role in this program. During these trips, youth build on the foundation of knowledge learned in the classroom and connect it to being outdoors.

“Our whole focus is really making it fun, interactive, and culturally relevant,” said Angelou Ezeilo, CEO and Founder of GYF. “The demographic we work with is ethnically diverse. We make sure from the music to the activities that it’s all relevant for the young people so that they can relate to it and the images they see are at the forefront of our minds.”



Grounded in public-private partnerships, the program formed on the realization there weren’t many programs for youth of color that address environmental education. In the beginning GYF, did after school programs and festivals to promote environmental awareness and increase literacy among young people about the environment and wellness.

Although GYF has experienced many successes, the program has endured some roadblocks along the way. A big challenge is simply getting children – especially teenagers – outside. They are working on finding a book, or even writing a book, that discusses how to engage children outdoors when there are so many competing factors, like technological devices. GYF wants youth to be in the moment and enjoy the outdoors.

Another challenge is funding. In some ways, this challenge has been addressed through public-private partnerships. For example, Spelman College supports GYF by having college students participate in the program. Managed by Gabriella Logan, GYF’s Public School Initiative Program Manager, and Jared Hopkins, PSI Assistant Manager, Spelman students are trained and certified to teach GYF’s curriculum. The college students in this program – who are called C.H.I.P.S., Collegiate and High School Internship Program – work in schools, recreation centers, and boys & girls club.

“Funding has been very challenging. Getting grants and so forth,” said Ezeilo. “Environmental programming grants are really hard to come by.”

The overarching challenge the program faces is that most environmental education materials are not tailored to youth of color. It is up to GYF to create or customize relevant materials for the audience they serve. This involves developing materials and activities that include language, music, and games that students will relate to. In order to provide trainings that “stick,” it is essential to create a culturally competent way of reaching youth in the outdoors. This is a fete GYF intends to overcome with a book.

Although funding proves to be a challenge, Greening Youth has successfully exposed youth of color to the outdoors. Logan states, “The young people that we work with are not necessarily allowed the opportunity to go outside just to get fresh air during the school day. We find when we come and do programming with the students, we’re exposing them to the outdoors in a different context then they might be used to. We try to engage them in nature and looking at the animals and how all of that ties together. Not necessarily just going outside to play.”

GYF explains that the CLEAN curriculum and Green Speaker series is important because it enables younger kids to envision themselves in conservation or environmental science careers long before these topics are brought up in high school. In fact, science isn’t normally taught in the classroom until third grade.



Through their programming, Greening Youth is committed to exposing youth to these different careers and being outdoors. Their programming positively affects students in that, by the time they are older, students already have a sense of what environmental science is and how it effects everyone, especially the black community.

Logan explains, “Starting at a young age helps to cultivate knowledge of the community’s environment they live in so they will be able to a make a positive change in the future.” Many program participants have indicated their interest in conservation or environmental science occupations in the future. Ezeilo attributes this factor to the “lightbulb going off”.

The relationship GYF has built with children over the years has created a yearning among them to learn more about the outside and their community. For older youth, GYF offers its Conservation Corps and internship programs for college students that give teens and young adults of color the opportunity to actually serve on public lands and gain hands-on job experience in conservation.

“You have to see it, to be it” - Ezeilo’s favorite quote by Sally Ride serves as the premise of her program. Youth in urban communities need to see examples of people in conservation careers that look like them. Participants in the Green Speaker Series serve as models and possibility of what the future could be. Within this program, youth are excited and understand the importance of environmental science and conservation through hands on experience.

 

Photos of the Month - April 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 April 2017.



American Conservation Experience




Arizona Conservation Corps



Canyon Country Youth Corps/Four Corners School of Outdoor Education




Great Basin Institute




Green Mountain Club




Kupu


Limitless Vistas, Inc.



Rocky Mountain Conservancy




Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - NM




SCA

 

NPS Week 2017 - A Project with Mile High Youth Corps



Name of Corps 

Mile High Youth Corps – Southern Front Range

 

Location of project
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

 

When did the project take place? 
September 2015 – July 2016 (6 weeks total)

 

Describe the project. What did the crew do? 
For the 2015-2016 Interdisciplinary Conservation Corps Project, the Mile High Youth Corps provided invasive species control and restoration of native vegetation in disturbed areas around the visitor center, trails, and road corridors for a total of six weeks. Crews also worked on projects including trail maintenance, boundary fence repairs and hazard fuel reduction clean-up.

 

How did this project partnership help the park? What issues did this project address?
Invasive species control and restoration of native vegetation performed by the crew ensured that park visitors can continue to enjoy natural landscapes and ecosystems within boundaries of Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Trail maintenance, boundary fencing repair and fuel mitigation work accomplished by the crew further restored the health of the park for future generations.

 



What skills did Corpsmembers use/learn on this project? 

The project included crew mentoring, career exploration in the outdoors, environmental education and recreational activities including Leave No Trace camping ethics. The crew learned technical skills such as fence repair, noxious weed removal, and trail maintenance techniques.

 

Quote from Corps staff about the project/about the partnership with NPS
"We love working with Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Michelle and her staff is amazing. They go out of their way to provide a meaningful experience for our Corpsmembers." - Diane Delano, Project Coordinator, MHYC-SFR

 

Quote from NPS staff about the project/about partnership with Corps
"We really appreciated their hard work...many bags of trash were filled with exotic plants that were hand pulled by the crew." - Seasonal Park Technician

"Thank you so much for all of the help, Mile High. We look forward to working with you guys again soon." - Rachel Sizemore, Biological Technician

 

Quote from Corpsmember
(what did you learn…what did it mean to serve at a National Park…etc.)

“It was a great experience, a beautiful site, and I learned many things during my time at Florissant Fossil beds, such as the Native American history in the area, which was very fascinating to me.” - Ronald Sotelo, Land Conservation Leader, MHYC- SFR

 

 

 

 

 

 

NPS Week 2017 - A Project with Utah Conservation Corps



Name of Corps

Utah Conservation Corps

 

Location of project
Zion National Park

 

When did the project take place?
July 2016-October 2016

 

Describe the project. What did the crew do?
Fourteen UCC AmeriCorps members (8 males, 6 females) completed 520 hours to complete 42 acres of exotic plant control and spraying herbicide along 11.25 miles of waterway at Zion National Park. Tasks included spraying herbicide on exotics, scattering native seeds, cleaning native seeds, and planting native grasses.

 

How did this project partnership help the park? What issues did this project address?
This was the fifteenth year the Utah Conservation Corps has sent crews to Zion National Park to assist NPS staff with exotic plant management control.  This partnership has added capacity to the Park’s exotic plant management by bolstering seasonal & permanent NPS staff with energetic UCC crews. Multiple UCC alumni have acquired substantial skills with Zion National Park and have gone on to gain employment with Zion National Park or other NPS units based on this exotic plant management project experience. 

 



What skills did Corpsmembers use/learn on this project? 

Corpsmembers learned about exotic plant species control in Zion National Park and the history and science behind this effort. In preparation for this project, all corpsmembers became State of Utah herbicide applicator certified as well as S-212 chainsaw-equivalent certified. 

 


Quote from Corps staff about the project/about the partnership with NPS
We’re proud to have partnered with Zion National Park for the past fifteen years. During this time we’ve had multiple UCC alumni complete their service experience and go on to serve as staff at Zion National Park.”- Sean Damitz, Director, Center for Civic Engagement and Service-Learning

 

Quote from NPS staff about the project/about partnership with Corps
This crew was enthusiastic, easy to work with, took direction very well and worked hard to follow our planting protocols despite the challenge of planting in compacted soils, and swinging pick s all day.”- Kathleen Dilley, Native Plant Nursery Manager

 

Quote from Corpsmember
(what did you learn…what did it mean to serve at a National Park…etc.)

We all enjoy the NPS's humor and enjoy working with them.”- Sierra Griffith, UCC Crew Leader

 

NPS Week 2017 - A Project with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps CO



Name of Corps

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (CO)

 

Location of project
Grand Teton National Park, White Grass Dude Ranch

 

When did the project take place?
August 21 – September 3, 2016

 

Describe the project. What did the crew do?
Five Rocky Mountain Youth Corps historic preservation crew members contributed 400 person-hours over two weeks working on the White Grass Dude Ranch preservation project in Grand Teton National Park.  During this time, the crew completed roof repair on one of the residential ranch cabins, fulfilling park staff project partners' goals with efficiency.  Project accomplishments included adding sleepers, trimming old roof material, installing insulation and ice & water shield, installing rolled roofing, removing old floor joists and installing new wall studs. The crew exceeded project partners' expectations and enjoyed learning new skills.  Near the completion of the project, crew members participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate progress in preserving this treasured site.

 

How did this project partnership help the park? What issues did this project address? What skills did Corpsmembers use/learn on this project?
This HOPE Crew contributed to the rehabilitation of a cabin at the White Grass Dude Ranch while also learning invaluable preservation skills from staff of the Western Center for Historic Preservation.  White Grass is a significant historic resource within Grand Teton National Park -  the project enhanced the understanding and appreciation of our nation’s history, its historic resources, and the field of preservation. The rehabilitation of White Grass Dude Ranch will eventually result in a training facility and cultural resource center for seasonal research. This project contributes to accomplishing this goal which will ultimately benefit the public by increasing appreciation and participation in cultural resource management and historic preservation.

 

Quote from Corps staff about the project/about the partnership with NPS
Grand Teton National Park projects have become a ‘badge of honor’ for RMYC Crew Members.  The sheer beauty of the park, combined with the incredibly well-balanced leadership and mentoring of park staff on high-impact projects, makes Grand Teton one of our most treasured project locations.  The future of the White Grass Dude Ranch looks bright, and it is an honor to have crews working on preserving its structures. (Laraine Martin, Project Manager)

 

 

 

NPS Week 2017 - A Project with Green City Force



Name of Corps

Green City Force

 

Location of project
Sagamore Hill, Long Island, NY

 

When did the project take place?
September 2016 (Sept. 12-23, 2016)

 

Describe the project. What did the crew do?
A crew of Green City Force Urban Farm Corps Members assisted National Parks Service staff in restoring "The Summer White House" located at Sagamore Hill, in Long Island, New York. The project was executed in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation's H.O.P.E. Crew (Hands On Preservation Experience). The project included educating members about the importance of conservation, correct restoration techniques and learning about Theodore Roosevelt.

 

How did this project partnership help the park? What issues did this project address?
Green City Force AmeriCorps Members helped preserve the historic home of 26th President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt that dates to the 1880s. Fresh paint was added to four buildings including the windmill pump house, the chicken coop, and the farming and garden sheds. We worked with Rangers Paul and Bob on restoring three structures, a garden shed, hen house and barn that was later used as a garage. We learned about preservation and the importance of preserving our history for the future, worked on painting the three structures and also built up our team bonding.

 




What skills did Corpsmembers use/learn on this project?

The Corps Members gained skills in historic preservation and building maintenance. Corps Members also learned about the rich history of president Theodore Roosevelt and his family.

 

Quote from Corps staff about the project/about the partnership with NPS
Green City Force Team Leader Andrew Lewis Quote about Sagamore Hill HOPE Crew Service.

Week 1 of the Sagamore Hill HOPE Crew project has wrapped up. The time spent thus far has simply been amazing with a mixture of service and learning the history behind Theodore Roosevelt. The team painted 3 building so far, a garden shed which still had Roosevelt's original tools stored inside (scythe, shovels, pitch fork, and a hay cutter), his chicken coop, and slaughter house.

Along with restoring the buildings we also visited a museum which was broken into three parts, before Roosevelt’s presidential term, during, and after. There were so many artifacts, everything from his weapon collection to his famous top hat, family memorabilia, and the many gifts he received in his lifetime. The most remarkable of which would be his family home which is still the same way it was over 100 years ago. The 3 floor home was filled with many hunting trophies (he was really into learning about animals), paintings, a vast library of books, 7 ft. Elephant tusks that were gifted to him by the emperor of Ethiopia. It was simply amazing, walking through actual history was a wonderful experience. Week 1 was great and we are looking forward to the 2nd.”
 

Quote from Corpsmember
(what did you learn…what did it mean to serve at a National Park…etc.)

Green City Force Urban Farm Corps AmeriCorps Member Paul Philpott Quote about Sagamore Hill HOPE Crew Service.

"Located on Sagamore Hill was the home of president Theodore Roosevelt which was also known as the Summer White House. Alongside 3 AmeriCorps Members and Team Leader Andrew we were the H.O.P.E crew (Hands-On Preservation Experience). We worked with Rangers Paul and Bob on restoring three structures, a garden shed, hen house and barn that was later used as a garage. We learned about preservation and the importance of preserving our history for the future, worked on painting the three structures and also built up our team bonding. We walked the nature trail that wraps around most of his 88 acre property, and the museum where we saw highlights of his life before, during, and after his presidency. And of course his house itself where we were able to find out some more fun facts about president Roosevelt, like he would drink about a gallon of coffee a day, his house was like a zoo with all the random animals, and was a working farm. We also learned how big he was into family fun and hard work. We also had the pleasure of sitting in on a naturalization ceremony and watch new citizens become Americans. We had a site visit from The Corp Network and from HOPE Crew to come and see the progress that we have made and things we have learned on this amazing experience. The last day a few of us got to meet some wonderful representatives from Fire Island and got to talk about some restoration projects they have. And as a final note on the last day Andrew, Chris, and myself became junior Rangers."

Pages