WASHINGTON, DC - Today, December 13, 2016, The Corps Network announced the winners of the 2017 Corpsmember of the Year, Project of the Year, and Legacy Achievement Awards. Awardees will be recognized at The Corps Network 2017 National Conference, taking place February 12th – 15th in Washington, DC.
These three awards are presented on an annual basis to select individuals and organizations from The Corps Network’s membership of over 130 Service and Conservation Corps across the country. Awardees are chosen through competitive nomination processes.
Every year, The Corps Network presents the Corpsmember of the Year Award to select Corpsmembers who have demonstrated personal growth, a sincere commitment to service, and outstanding leadership skills. All winners of the Corpsmember of the Year Award are nominated by their Corps and selected by a panel of unbiased staff from The Corps Network and its member Corps.
Four Project of the Year Awards are presented on an annual basis to Corps that have undertaken especially influential or innovative endeavors within the past year. Projects of the Year are noteworthy for their ability to provide both a positive experience for Corpsmembers and meaningful improvements to the community. Staff from The Corps Network as well as outside reviewers from member Corps select the winners of this award.
The Legacy Achievement Award is presented annually to at least one individual who has twenty or more years of experience with Corps. The Legacy awardee is someone who has contributed to the Corps movement in a significant way and served in a senior leadership position at a Corps or multiple Corps. Influential leaders in the Corps movement and senior staff from The Corps Network’s member Corps review the Legacy Achievement Award nominations and select the winners.
“All our member Corps and Corpsmembers make significant contributions to communities across the country,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network. “With these three awards, we have the opportunity to celebrate extraordinary individuals and programs from our network and shed light on the vast capabilities of Corps; our awardees are symbols of the impact of national service. The Corps Network is humbled to represent such inspiring people and programs.”
The six winners of the 2017 Corpsmember of the Year Award are:
Dorell Boyd – Citizens Conservation Corps (WV)*
Dorell served on a number of Hand on Preservation Experience (HOPE) Crew projects at national parks. He honed his craftsmanship in a range of preservation techniques and had the opportunity to learn from and work alongside National Park Service employees. Dorell so impressed park staff that he was hired by the maintenance department at Prince William Forest Park in Virginia.
*Dorell Boyd is being recognized as the first ever 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) Corpsmember of the Year. The 21CSC is a national initiative to increase the number of youth and recent veterans serving on public lands. The 21CSC Corpsmember of the Year is a young adult who has served in a member Corps of the 21CSC and is a champion of the initiative’s vision of increasing the engagement of youth and young adults in conservation and preservation.
Michael Hendricks – Greencorps Chicago (IL)
Michael did not have outdoor experience, but he turned to the Corps looking to try something new and build a career. Michael enthusiastically took every training opportunity the Corps offered, earning numerous certifications. He went far beyond service hour requirements, even organizing friends from his neighborhood to also participate in service activities. Michael was not afraid to step outside his comfort zone, participating in a camping crew for Greencorps’ first ever project with the U.S. Forest service.
Kalef Jones – PowerCorpsPHL (PA)
Kalef quickly rose through the ranks at PowerCorpsPHL, displaying outstanding leadership skills and becoming the first alumni to be hired by the Corps as a full-time staff member. During his AmeriCorps terms with PowerCorps, Kalef displayed great maturity in how he handled multiple personal setbacks. His hard work and positive attitude earned him a number of awards and the Corps’ first ever internship with the Mayor’s Office at City Hall. Kalef came to the Corps with a sincere desire to overcome his past mistakes and has experienced personal growth beyond anyone’s expectations.
Amanda Mathias – Mile High Youth Corps (CO)
Feeling out of touch with her priorities, Amanda turned down an offer to business school and hiked the Appalachian Trail in search of the person she wanted to become. Realizing a desire to serve, Mandy became an AmeriCorps member at Mile High Youth Corps in Denver. She quickly stood out, earning a spot on the Corps’ Leadership Council and a promotion to Assistant Crew Leader. Mandy instituted a number of positive changes at the Corps and managed to secure a $10,000 project with a local housing authority.
Leticia Rocha – SEEDS (MI)
Leticia has put in five years of service with SEEDS, based in Traverse City, MI. She currently serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the organization. Leticia overcame a tumultuous childhood plagued by abuse and neglect and now uses her personal experience to mentor other Corpsmembers. She has exhibited great dedication, adaptability and resilience throughout her service, eagerly tackling a wide variety of different projects. Leticia’s service experience has inspired her to pursue a career in environmental stewardship.
Shanique Wilson – Virginia Service and Conservation Corps (VA)
Shay joined AmeriCorps looking for a change of pace from her job at a restaurant; little did she know how much this experience would change her life. An injury kept Shay from participating in all Corps activities, but, rather than sitting back, she made herself an unofficial public relations manager for her crew. She wrote blogs, took pictures and created videos. She later accepted an individual placement position with the Corps, making huge contribution’s to her park’s social media presence. Shay’s efforts earned her a full-time job as the park’s social media coordinator.
The four winners of the 2017 Project of the Year Aware are:
Green City Force (NY) – Farms at NYCHA
AmeriCorps members at Green City Force have constructed four farms on New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) properties in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Corpsmembers maintain these farms, providing fresh produce and education about healthy eating to public housing residents. The farms have transformed previously underutilized areas into lush green spaces that promote outdoor activity and spark important conversations about health and community equity.
Kupu (HI) – IUCN World Conservation Congress Youth Engagement
Kupu led the K-12 Working Group that helped plan the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii. The Congress, which happens every four years, brought over 9,000 people to Hawaii to discuss climate change and the relationships between humans and nature. With Kupu’s leadership, this was the first Congress to include programming specifically for youth. Ten youth-specific activities took place over the ten days of the Congress, engaging over 1,500 young people in service and conversations about the environment.
Northwest Youth Corps (OR, WA) – ASL Inclusion Young Adult Crew
Northwest Youth Corps expanded its American Sign Language program to offer a crew for Deaf and/or hard-of-hearing youth. NYC’s ASL Inclusion Crew model offers Deaf young people a safe, supportive and accessible environment in which to earn a paycheck, gain valuable work experience, and develop leadership and teamwork skills. Having DHH and “hearing” youth work together provides new understanding of Deaf culture and sense of community.
U.S. Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers (Nationwide) – Wildland Fire Program
With its establishment in 2015, JCCCC’s Wildland Fire Program has enhanced the role of Job Corps filling future fire management positions in the Forest Service. Since then, over 1,000 students received “red cards” for firefighting and camp crews. Corpsmembers served on 285 fire assignments, working nearly 3,100 days. Over 5,800 acres of Wildland-Urban Interface were treated, reducing the threat of future fires.
The two winners of the 2017 Legacy Achievement award are:
Thomas Hark – Vermont Youth Conservation Corps
Thomas Hark has dedicated the last 33 years of his life to Corps. In 1985, he helped found the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) as a program of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. Mr. Hark led the organization with the firm belief that all people, regardless of background or experience, have the ability to make a difference in the world around them. Because of his leadership, VYCC has grown into a state-of-the-art worked based learning program operating in four states and partnering annually with over 80 organizations.
Carolyn Thompson-Wallace – IYO, New Jersey Youth Corps of Newark and Essex County
Carolyn Thompson-Wallace founded the International Youth Organization (IYO) over 45 years ago as a safe place to go after school for the youth of Newark, NJ. Since then, she has transformed the organization into a renowned youth services provider, offering disconnected young adults counseling, life skills training, job training and education to help them become productive citizens.
The winners of all three awards will be honored at a ceremony on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC as part of The Corps Network’s 2017 national conference, “Moving Forward Together.” For more information about the conference, please visit www.corpsnetwork.org/national-conference.