This summer we plan to highlight several of the participants in the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. To view all Faces of the 21CSC stories, please click here. The following story was provided by Arizona Conservation Corps, a 21CSC program operator.
In his orange hard hat and well-worn work pants, Shonto Greyeyes leads an AmeriCorps crew of six local teens in the Youth Conservation Corps in Prescott, AZ as part of Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC). Shonto is serving his second term as a YCC mentor as follow up to experiences on the Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition crew with AZCC, a term of service with Montana Conservation Corps, and an individual placement internship with Coconino National Forest. Shonto sees his responsibility to give back to his community, and he aspires to lead an inter-tribal crew that serves Arizona’s ancestral lands and native communities.
Shonto recognizes the challenge of straddling two worlds: the traditional knowledge of his Diné culture and the opportunities of the 21st century. Shonto grew up in the border town of Flagstaff, AZ after his family made the decision to move off of the Navajo Reservation, the largest reservation in the U.S. which reaches into three states.
Shonto went to school in Flagstaff, but returned often to his home community to stay connected to Navajo culture and tradition. Shonto reflects on his heritage and experiences and says, “My challenge is to respectfully merge these two worlds.”
Shonto’s corps experiences have informed his choices as he has developed skills, gained certifications, and pursued new opportunities. Shonto is currently part of the 900 hour AmeriCorps Mentor Development Program with AZCC. After 450 hours of peer leadership experiences and rugged and remote trail work on the Continental Divide Trail in New Mexico, Shonto and the other mentors settled into the YCC communities for the summer on June 15. Over the next six weeks, Shonto will guide six local teens in their first AmeriCorps experiences.