The Partnership for the 21CSC Announces 2018 Winners of 21CSC National Distinction and Champion of the Year Awards

Annual award recognizes professionals for their efforts to help develop the next generation of resource professionals, outdoor enthusiasts, and community leaders

Hannah Traverse
The Corps Network
1275 K St NW – Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20005


January 11, 2018 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) today announced the 2018 recipients of the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award and 21CSC Champion of the Year – National Distinction Award. Honorees will be recognized during the annual Partnership for the 21CSC meeting, taking place February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. This meeting is part of The Corps Network National Conference.

The 2018 Champion of the Year – National Distinction Awardees are Jen Murphy, Operations Manager, Disaster Services Unit, Corporation for National and Community Service; and Betsy Wooster, recently retired as National Youth Program Lead, Bureau of Land Management. The 2018 Champions of the Year are Ben Baldwin, Youth and Volunteer Programs Manager, Intermountain Region, National Park Service; Kelly Pearson, Wilderness Technician and Volunteer Coordinator, Shawnee National Forest, U.S. Forest Service; and Lonnie Pilkington, Natural Resource Manager, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

In addition to recognizing the 21CSC Champions, the 2018 Partnership for the 21CSC meeting will feature a keynote address by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, and appearances by several other officials at the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture, including Dan Jiron, Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The 21CSC is a bold national effort to put thousands of America’s young adults and veterans to work protecting, restoring and enhancing our communities and natural spaces. At the heart of the 21CSC are over 220 nonprofit and government-operated “Corps.” Corps are organizations that – through partnerships with resource management agencies, conservation organizations, and the Corporation for National and Community Service – annually engage roughly 25,000 young people and veterans in maintenance, improvement and disaster response projects in communities and on public lands and waters.

The existence of the 21CSC depends on partnerships between Corps and project partners that are committed to engaging young adults in the preservation of America’s natural, historic and community treasures. The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award recognizes individuals from these partner organizations – including nonprofits and government agencies – who have gone above and beyond to engage Corps and support the training of the next generation of conservation professionals, community leaders, and outdoor recreationists. Champions are selected through a nomination process.

This is the fourth year the Partnership for the 21CSC will present the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award and the third year for the Champion of the Year – National Distinction Award. The Champion of the Year Award recognizes regional leaders; the National Distinction Award recognizes leaders whose work has touched 21CSC organizations across the country.

Led by The Corps Network and Conservation Legacy, the Partnership for the 21CSC is an advisory group of key federal, state, local and nonprofit leaders that supports the development and implementation of the 21CSC to reach its goal of being a preeminent strategy for addressing America’s most pressing conservation and disaster response needs.

“The young adults and veterans serving in 21CSC organizations engage in critically important projects. They help keep our parks accessible; maintain vital habitats; protect communities from floods and wildfires, and answer the call when disaster strikes. None of this work would be possible without the support of partners like Jen, Betsy, Ben, Kelly and Lonnie,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network and Co-Chair of the Partnership for the 21CSC. “Congratulations to all our honorees. We sincerely thank you for everything you do to help train our next generation of community and conservation leaders.”

“The 21CSC is defined by people – champions like you who innovate and work tirelessly to engage young Americans across the nation on projects that build our rural and urban economies and strengthen America’s unique and vital natural assets,” said Amy Sovocool, CO-CEO of Conservation Legacy and Co-Chair of the Partnership for the 21CSC. “Your dedication to supporting young people and veterans in partnership with 21CSC programs deserves this honor. Your efforts leave an indelible mark on our public lands and areas affected by disaster, and provide opportunities for 21CSC participants to gain critical skills for the future. Thank you for your commitment to 21CSC and to enhancing America’s great outdoors.”


About the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC)
The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) is a bold national effort to put thousands of young people and veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors. The 21CSC is based on public-private partnerships between federal resource management agencies and the private sector. The goal of these partnerships is to increase civilian national service positions on public lands and encourage the use of Corps to meet the maintenance needs of land and water management agencies at no additional cost to taxpayers. Learn more at

About Conservation Legacy
Conservation Legacy is a national organization dedicated to supporting locally based conservation service programs. We operate and support programs that provide service and work opportunities for a diverse group of individuals to complete important conservation and community projects for the public benefit. Founded in 1998 to continue the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s, Conservation Legacy programs include: Southwest Conservation CorpsGreat Appalachian Valley Conservation CorpsSoutheast Conservation CorpsArizona Conservation CorpsPreserve America Youth Summit and BRIDGE Network.

About The Corps Network
Established in 1985, The Corps Network is the national association of service and conservation Corps. Our 130+ member Corps annually provide over 25,000 youth and veteran Corpsmembers the opportunity to serve our country through work-based conservation, resource management, lands access, recreation, and disaster response projects on public lands and in rural and urban communities. Through their service, Corpsmembers obtain in-demand skills and advance their education. The Corps Network supports Corps by advocating on their behalf, providing access to funding and project opportunities, and by offering expertise in Corps operations and programming. Learn more at