Author Archives: Hannah

Q and A with Ben Baldwin: 2018 Champion of the Year

Ben Baldwin is the Youth and Volunteer Programs Manager for the National Park Service Intermountain Region. Ben is a 21CSC Champion of the Year for 2018. This Award recognizes individuals from agencies and organizations that partner with 21CSC programs to help engage the next generation of conservation and community leaders in service, education and training.

The 2018 Champions of the Year will be recognized at the annual Partnership for the 21CSC Meeting, happening February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. This event is part of The Corps Network National Conference.

  • Learn more about Ben– Click here.
  • Learn more about the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award – Click here.

 


  1. Tell us about your current role.

    I am the NPS Intermountain Region (IMR) Youth and Volunteer Programs Manager.  In this role I support the 85+ parks across this eight state region. My job is never the same each day; it includes providing policy interpretation, assisting with reporting, advocating for park issues, highlighting successful programs and projects, maintaining relationships and managing fund sources. It is a very rewarding and challenging job.  The IMR has a strong and active youth culture which provides a great foundation for the work that we do.


  2. Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in conservation/land and water management?

    I grew up as a ranch kid in Southern Utah.  Most of my childhood was spend recreating and working on public lands and I developed my love of rangelands, red rocks and wide-open spaces. This pragmatic personal relationship with land management grew into undergraduate and graduate degrees that provided the technical content and context for conservation.


  3. Tell us about how you have engaged with Service and Conservation Corps.

    In my position I had the great opportunity to work with Harry Bruell, former CEO of Conservation Legacy (a Co-Chair organization of the Partnership for the 21CSC).  Harry provided me with a great introduction to the inner workings of Corps, what is possible, and the opportunities for the future.  Under Harry’s mentorship, I focused on Corps as an important piece of the youth culture in IMR.  I continue to invest in the NPS IMR relationships with all of the Corps in our region and consider them a critical part of our workforce and how we do our work in the future.


  4. What advice would you offer to other employees from land/water management agencies and nonprofits that are interested in partnering with 21CSC programs (What to expect, etc.)

    The best advice I can give is to communicate.  The 21CSC programs are our partners with service-wide master agreements.  This allows a different relationship than with contractors or other partners. More importantly they share common goals and objectives to engage and employ youth and conserve public lands.  They are part of our workforce and provide an adaptive, creative, and flexible way to achieve our important work.


  5. What are the most beneficial aspects of partnering with a 21CSC Program?

    21CSC is an effective, creative, flexible and important partner.  They provide us new tools and programs to focus on the conservation mission.  They get work done on the ground, provide youth with great opportunities, and respond quickly to changing challenges.  Because of the large amount of Corps that are geographically distributed, there are many options and tools available. Corps provide local solutions built on local relationships, technical knowledge and passion for conservation.


  6. What advice would you offer to young people in 21CSC programs who are interested in careers in conservation and land/water management?

    Connect your passion to proactive management of your career.  Often NPS and other federal jobs are the focus for careers in conservation.  If conservation of public lands is your goal, widen your perspective of what positions and organizations can help you achieve that goal. Align what is best for you and best for conservation; personal sacrifice is not the key to a successful career. Taking care of yourself allows you to take care of conservation. Alignment of helping people and public lands will provide fuel for your passion and lead to a much more productive and enjoyable career.

 

Q and A with Betsy Wooster: 2018 Champion of the Year – National Distinction Awardee

Betsy Wooster recently retired from her position as Youth Program Lead at the Bureau of Land Management. Betsy is a 21CSC Champion of the Year – National Distinction Awardee for 2018. This Award recognizes individuals from agencies and organizations that partner with 21CSC programs to help engage the next generation of conservation and community leaders in service, education and training.

The 2018 Champions of the Year will be recognized at the annual Partnership for the 21CSC Meeting, happening February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. This event is part of The Corps Network National Conference.

  • Learn more about Betsy – Click here.
  • Learn more about the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award – Click here.


  1. Tell us about your current role.

    Until I retired at the end of December 2017, I was the Youth Program Lead for the Bureau of Land Management. BLM has a strong education team at the national level, so most of my efforts focused on facilitating partnerships with Service and Conservation Corps and other youth-serving organizations. These partnerships not only provide jobs and job training opportunities for young people and Veterans, they also help the BLM accomplish important management objectives across a wide range of resource programs. The BLM has always been a decentralized organization, so I was responsible for managing only a few national agreements. I worked closely with BLM’s grants policy team to develop clear policy and consistent approaches that, I hope, strengthened partnerships with Corps across the bureau.


  2. Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in conservation/land and water management?

    My path to conservation/land and water management was definitely circuitous. I spent most of my career working for non-profit organizations, including the National Geographic Society and National Wildlife Federation. I developed educational materials for kids and teachers on a wide range of topics, gradually narrowing my focus to environmental topics. That’s what I was doing at BLM when our division was designated to take the lead on a more comprehensive Youth Program – one that involved not only educating youth about natural and cultural resources and engaging them in outdoor activities, but also providing pathways to careers. While BLM’s Human Capital Management Program had numerous programs designed to create those pathways, we knew that partnerships with Corps would enable us to engage so many more young people. We recognized that strengthening partnerships with Corps would, in a sense, “bridge the gap” in our programs, creating a continuum of experiences from classroom to career.


  3. Tell us about how you have engaged with Service and Conservation Corps.

    Most of my engagement with Service and Conservation Corps occurred in Washington, so I was somewhat removed from the actual on-the-ground work that occurs across the 245 million acres that BLM manages. But I talked and met regularly with Corps representatives from around the country, and with BLM employees in state and field offices, about how we could work together more effectively to accomplish mutual goals.

    I will admit that I had something of a learning curve when I first became involved in partnership development with the Corps. When the Federal Advisory Committee on the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps was created, I was designated as the BLM representative on the 21CSC working group, an interagency team that worked with the committee. That experience helped me understand and appreciate the contributions that the Corps make to young people, their communities, and their federal partners.


  4. What advice would you offer to other employees from land/water management agencies and nonprofits that are interested in partnering with 21CSC programs (What to expect, etc.)?

    See the relationship as a true partnership. I think sometimes agency staff look at 21CSC programs as a way to accomplish work inexpensively, and there have certainly been studies demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of working with Corps. Others see these partnerships almost as if the agencies are doing the 21CSC programs a favor by letting them pursue their mission on our lands. They see working with Corps as something nice to do if they have the time, but sometimes consider it too much trouble. The Corps do have a valuable mission that benefits society and our public lands. Agencies can and should play a vital role in that mission.

    I would encourage agency employees to look at the work they need to accomplish and consider ways in which young people and Veterans engaged through Corps can participate in that work. Corps crews and their experienced leaders bring a great deal of expertise to a wide range of projects. In addition, agency employees who work directly with the Corps should look at how they can serve as mentors to program participants.

    Whether or not Corpsmembers decide to pursue careers in natural resource management, agency staff can help ensure Corps participants develop an understanding and appreciation for the work they are doing and the mission of the agency.


  5. What are the most beneficial aspects of partnering with a 21CSC Program?

    Crews and interns accomplish important work efficiently and cost-effectively. Crew leaders provide participants with skills needed to get the job done, freeing agency staff to pursue other priorities. Working together, 21CSC programs and agencies are nurturing the “next generation” of conservation stewards. These programs help agencies strengthen community connections and build rural economies by training young people and Veterans for local jobs.


  6. What advice would you offer to young people in 21CSC programs who are interested in careers in conservation and land/water management?

    Let your interests be known to your crew leaders and to agency staff you come in contact with. Seek out mentors. Be open to opportunities that allow you to build your résumé and gain a breadth of experience. While the non-competitive hiring status and direct hire authority are valuable benefits of service in 21CSC programs, federal jobs are not always going to be available. There are many ways to pursue your passion!

Q and A with Jen Murphy: 2018 Champion of the Year – National Distinction Awardee

Jen Murphy is the Operations Manager for the Disaster Services Unit at the Corporation for National and Community Service. Jen is a 21CSC Champion of the Year – National Distinction Awardee for 2018. This Award recognizes individuals from agencies and organizations that partner with 21CSC programs to help engage the next generation of conservation and community leaders in service, education and training.

The 2018 Champions of the Year will be recognized at the annual Partnership for the 21CSC Meeting, happening February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. This event is part of The Corps Network National Conference.

  • Learn more about Jen – Click here.
  • Learn more about the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award – Click here.

  1. Tell us about your current role.

    Currently, I coordinate the small but mighty Disaster Services Unit (DSU) at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency responsible for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs. The DSU coordinates CNCS’s engagement in disaster-related activities and ensures that AmeriCorps and Senior Corps efforts in this field are appropriate, consistent, effective, and coordinated.

    I direct national service disaster response operations, coordinating with FEMA and state and local emergency management officials, as well as other national and local partners. This includes managing the AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team (A-DRT) program both in times of disaster as well as blue skies. In addition, I support the DSU’s partnerships, facilitate disaster response trainings, and support CNCS grantees in all things disaster-related. [To learn more about what the DSU does and how you can get more engaged in disaster, visit us here.]

    Right now, CNCS is still actively responding to communities impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria across Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since August 2017, nearly 4,000 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members have responded to the hurricanes; more than 1,300 of those members were A-DRTs, and many of them came from 21CSC organizations. My role is to continue to provide coordination, support, and resources to our partners, programs, and most importantly – the impacted communities.


  2. Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get started in national service?

    My national service journey began right out of college and is still going strong. I served two terms as an AmeriCorps NCCC member out of the former Capital Region campus in Washington, DC. It was during my time in AmeriCorps that Hurricane Katrina hit, changing the course of my service experience and giving me the base for my future career in disaster services.

    In my two years in AmeriCorps, I put blue tarps on roofs in Florida, supported American Red Cross operations in Louisiana, and coordinated assessments and cleanup work in Mississippi. These defining experiences married my interests in project and event management with my passion for service, eventually leading me to my role at the DSU.

    Soon after my time as an AmeriCorps member, I started what would become my public service career at CNCS, planning training conferences and supporting the execution of the 2007 National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Philadelphia. After a year in DC, I realized that my heart was still with the communities impacted by Hurricane Katrina, so I found my way back to Mississippi with AmeriCorps NCCC.

    There I served as the Assistant Program Director of the Gulf Recovery Team, a new satellite NCCC office tasked with managing the program’s long-term Katrina response and recovery work. For a year-and-a-half, I had the opportunity to coordinate all the AmeriCorps NCCC service projects and special events in the Gulf Coast, including those for media, large scale volunteer efforts, and all-corps convenings.

    In 2009, we closed the Gulf office and opened the new Southern Region NCCC campus in Vicksburg, MS, expanding our service area across the Southeastern part of the country. I loved not only continuing to work with long-term disaster recovery partners, but meeting the incredible organizations doing great work in their communities. Being part of the process of establishing a new campus where I was able to interact with AmeriCorps members daily and watch them grow throughout their service year was an extraordinary experience.

    In 2013, my then fiancé (and also national service lifer — #AmeriMarriage) and I moved to Washington, D.C. to start our next chapter. The timing couldn’t have been better as the DSU had an open position and I was able to return to the disaster work I developed a passion for in the Gulf Coast while expanding it across all streams of service. In March, I will mark five years with the DSU and I feel so fortunate for the path of experiences that brought me here.


  3. Tell us about the A-DRT program and how you have engaged with Service and Conservation Corps.

    The A-DRT program is made up of AmeriCorps grantees and AmeriCorps NCCC that have a heightened focus and commitment to disaster response and recovery work. The A-DRTs are undoubtedly the most experienced national service programs in disaster response, recognized in both the federal and VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) worlds as an invaluable resource during critical times of disaster.

    Through CNCS’s partnership with FEMA, we can deploy A-DRTs through Mission Assignments from FEMA. This allows for structured and supported deployments to disaster areas. A-DRTs are requested to support a variety of functions of disaster response, including: Volunteer and Donations Management (Volunteer Reception Center management, donations distribution, field leadership, etc), Individual Assistance (mucking/gutting homes, sheltering, feeding, emergency roof tarping, etc), Public Assistance (debris removal, flood fighting, etc), Community Outreach (call center support, client intake, etc), and Capacity Building (Long Term Recovery Group support, surge capacity, etc). For more information, please visit us here.


  4. Why are Conservation Corps tapped for involvement in AmeriCorps disaster response efforts? What skills do they bring?

    Of the 17 A-DRT programs, all but four are Conservation Corps. This speaks to the capabilities that Conservation Corps bring to this type of work. The crew-based model, the standard program trainings, development of both hard and soft skills, and most importantly, the flexibility and adaptability that members bring make them a great match for disaster response work.

    Recently, we have also implemented an Incident Command System (ICS) structure in our A-DRT operations. ICS is a standardized approach to the command, control, and coordination of emergency response that adapts to the unique needs of each disaster response. This allows for smoother and more adaptable operations in each disaster, while strengthening our partnership with emergency management partners who also use ICS. Since many cCorps train and use ICS in their own program, this has made the transition to using it on disaster response even smoother. And, of course, those awesome chainsaw skills help a lot too!


  5. What advice would you offer to alumni of 21CSC and/or AmeriCorps programs who are interested in continuing their service to country and community?

    AmeriCorps members should look at their term of service as a launching pad to a lifetime of service. The opportunity to spend an entire year (or more) focused on service is something that most members, this alum included, probably take for granted. When you’re in the midst of it, it can be difficult to appreciate the rare opportunity to be surrounded with like-minded people, living in unique situations, and doing good work daily that directly helps others.

    I mean, when else in your life will you get to live on a ship in Puerto Rico or a tent in the backcountry? Some days will be long, many will be difficult. But all of those days will be building the foundation of how you can continue serving beyond your AmeriCorps term. You will learn about what motivates you, how you best communicate, how to live on a budget. And if your next job has nothing to do with service, that’s definitely okay! Find other ways in your life to continue that service, whether that is volunteering on the weekends or supporting an effort virtually. Service means something different to everyone, so find out what it means to you and what works in your life.

    I am fortunate to have a job that so directly serves communities in times of need. However, as a parent of two young children, finding time to regularly volunteer is challenging, if not impossible. For me right now, service means teaching my children about the importance of doing good things, being kind, and helping others. Whether that is by helping a stranger jumpstart their car, or taking food to a sick friend, setting an example of kindness for my children is my new service.

    If you are interested in serving with disaster-related efforts, there are a number of ways to get involved. If you have the time to volunteer on the ground, find an organization to affiliate with (start here!). If you can’t travel, start a fundraiser or donations drive (only items that are needed!) to support relief efforts.

21CSC Act Passes in United States House Committee on Natural Resources with Unanimous Bipartisan Support

The bill, which now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration, would make it easier for Corps to partner with federal agencies and engage more young adults and veterans in addressing backlogged maintenance and other critical projects on America’s public lands and waters.

Contact:
Hannah Traverse
The Corps Network
1275 K St NW – Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20005
202-737-6272
htraverse@corpsnetwork.og

January 17, 2018 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

View press release from the office of Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ)

WASHINGTON, DC – The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (P-21CSC) applauds the United States House Committee on Natural Resources for passing the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act (21CSC Act, H.R.2987) today, January 17, 2018. The P-21CSC also thanks Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) for introducing the legislation in the House and for championing its progress. The bill now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

“This staggering backlog in park maintenance projects hampers Arizonans’ ability to fully enjoy and access the natural beauty of our state,” said Congresswoman McSally. “My bipartisan bill leverages existing resources in a smarter way to get these delayed and deferred maintenance projects moving. It also expands opportunities for youth and veterans who need service hours to volunteer to help our parks. This bill is a win for everyone—taxpayers, national park users, veterans, and even inner-city youth. I’m thankful for the Committee’s support of my bill and I will continue to  shepherd this legislation through until it is public law.”

“I applaud the House Committee on Natural Resources for passing our 21CSC Act, which would create more opportunities for Americans to serve. In Arizona and across the country, our national parks and public lands are in need of help as a backlog of critical projects grows. Our legislation would enable young people and transitioning veterans to serve their communities by enhancing our national parks and public lands, while spending no additional taxpayer dollars. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to follow the House’s lead by taking up and passing this important legislation,” said Senator McCain, who introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

Corps are community-based programs that provide young adults and recent veterans the opportunity to serve our country, advance their education and obtain in-demand skills. Serving in crews or individual positions, Corpsmembers spend up to a year performing meaningful projects that address conservation and infrastructure concerns, wildfires and natural disasters, outdoor recreation access, and a range of other issues. During their service, 21CSC participants gain hands-on work experience and prepare for careers in the growing recreation, natural resource and restoration economies. Since the 1950s, Corps have partnered with land management agencies, like the U.S. Forest Service and the agencies of the Department of the Interior, to complete mission-critical projects on public lands.

The 21CSC is a national initiative to expand Corps to annually engage 100,000 young adults and veterans in outdoor work and national service, including service opportunities supported by AmeriCorps. The backbone of the 21CSC is a membership of more than 220 local and regional 21CSC organizations (Corps) across the country that, every year, collectively enroll more than 25,000 young people and veterans.

Through public-private partnerships between 21CSC organizations, resource management agencies, and the private sector, the 21CSC builds rural and urban economies by engaging young adults and veterans in projects that increase access to public lands and enhance the natural resource infrastructure that supports our country’s $887 billion outdoor economy. America’s main resource management agencies have a maintenance backlog totaling over $18.6 billion, but, by partnering with 21CSC organizations, these agencies can leverage their funding to cost-effectively engage Corps in building trails, fighting wildfires, supporting productive fish and wildlife habitat, and generally maintaining parks for public access.

Corps are presently authorized to partner with federal land management agencies through the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993. The 21CSC Act would update this legislation to recognize the need for a new 21st Century Conservation Service Corps that will address modern conservation, recreation, forestry, and infrastructure needs on public lands and communities across the country.

The 21CSC Act would allow federal land and water management agencies to create formal, more flexible partnerships with 21CSC member organizations. It would also enable additional federal agencies to more easily partner with 21CSC organizations to accomplish their goals. Specifically, the 21CSC Act would:

  • Expand the number of federal agencies that can work with 21CSC programs. Enlisting Conservation Corps to do priority work has often proven to be more cost-effective for federal agencies.
  • Encourage federal agencies to collaborate, and require that they use only existing resources to work with 21CSC programs, meaning there would be no additional cost to tax-payers.
  • Designate coordinators at participating agencies to ensure the efficient functioning of the 21CSC.
  • Prioritize the engagement of recent veterans, native, and disadvantaged youth in 21CSC programs, and establish a new Indian Youth Corps program.
  • Establish standards for data collection and measuring the effectiveness of 21CSC programs.
  • Provide two years of non-competitive hiring eligibility with federal agencies for young people and veterans who gain valuable skills through service in 21CSC programs.
  • Provide new Internship and Resource Assistant opportunities for Corpsmembers, along with direct hiring authority.

The bipartisan 21CSC Act was introduced in the United States House of Representatives (H.R.2987) and Senate (S.1403) on June 21, 2017. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Tom Udall (D-NM). It was introduced in the House by Reps. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Scott Tipton (R-CO), and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ). Additional cosponsors have since joined in both the House and Senate.

An earlier version of the 21CSC Act was introduced in the Senate in August 2015 (S.1993) by Senators McCain and Bennet, and in the House in April 2016 (H.R.5114) by Representatives McSally and Moulton. The Public Lands Service Corps Act (PLSCA) – a similar bill – was most recently introduced in the House in April 2015 (H.R.2167) by Rep. Grijalva and in the Senate (S. 1160) by Sen. Udall. Rep. Grijlava has been a long-standing champion of Corps and the PLSCA. The bill reviewed today is a combination of previously introduced versions of the 21CSC and PLSC Acts. It represents a bipartisan effort among sponsors and cosponsors of both bills to advance Corps as a public-private strategy to meet the needs of America’s resource management agencies and provide work opportunities for young adults and veterans.

“On behalf of America’s Service and Conservation Corps, thank you Chairman Bishop and the House Committee on Natural Resources for considering amendments and advancing the 21CSC Act. To Congresswoman McSally, Congressman Moulton, Congressman Grijalva, as well as all of the bill’s cosponsors in the House, we are deeply grateful for your leadership,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network and Co-Chair of the Partnership for the 21CSC. “America’s resource management agencies face a multi-billion-dollar maintenance backlog and the demands of responding to increasingly costly fires and natural disasters. The 21CSC offers a solution to these issues and a way to engage our next generation of outdoor stewards, recreationists, sportsmen and women, and resource managers. We look forward to working with Congressional offices to see the 21CSC Act signed into law.”

“Each year, over 500 young people and veterans with the Arizona Conservation Corps contribute over 250,000 service hours on the vast amounts of public lands in Arizona. Veterans continue their service here on the home by protecting communities from wildfire. Young people help reduce backlogged maintenance that challenges our well-loved public lands by working on trails and waterways in parks and forests statewide,” said Paul Schmidt, Executive Director of the Arizona Conservation Corps, a 21CSC organization. “There is a growing need for maintenance and protection of our public lands for the benefit of local economies and different user groups. There are also more young people wanting to contribute to this effort so increasing opportunities for young people to serve on public lands is critical. I sincerely thank the House Committee on Natural Resources, Rep. McSally, and Rep. Grijalva for your commitment to young people and veterans and for support of the 21CSC Act.”

American Conservation Experience (ACE) would like to thank the House Committee on Natural Resources for advancing the 21CSC Act, and thank Rep. McSally and Rep. Grijalva for their leadership on behalf of Corps,” said Chris Baker, President of American Conservation Experience, an Arizona-based 21CSC organization. “In a nation too often divided, Rep. McSally’s efforts championed bipartisan support to facilitate youth and veterans’ employment through service to our nation’s public lands. Rep. McSally and all the bill’s sponsors and cosponsors have truly helped elevate service in our national parks, forests, refuges and recreational areas to a national priority. The 21CSC Act will provide vital support to help ACE, the Arizona Conservation Corps, and over 220 other 21CSC organizations nationwide facilitate life changing-outdoor service opportunities for young men and women.”

The 21CSC initiative was launched as a partnership between America’s Corps and a number of federal agencies with a goal of promoting a 21st-Century Conservation Service Corps to provide job training and maintain and preserve public lands. The 21CSC is supported by the past five Secretaries of Interior (two Republicans and three Democrats) and has received investments from a wide variety of private businesses, foundations, and philanthropic organizations. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke was a co-sponsor of the 21CSC Act when he was a United States Representative for Montana.

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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 www.21CSC.org.

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

Contact:
Hannah Traverse
The Corps Network
1275 K St NW – Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20005
202-737-6272
htraverse@corpsnetwork.og

 

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.”

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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 www.21CSC.org.

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 www.corpsnetwork.org

21CSC National Distinction Awardee: Betsy Wooster, Bureau of Land Management

Betsy Wooster
[Retired] National Youth Program Lead
Bureau of Land Management

The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award/National Distinction Award is presented on an annual basis to dedicated individuals from organizations and federal agencies that partner with 21CSC programs. The 2018 honorees will be recognized in Washington, DC during the annual meeting of the partnership for the 21CSC, part of The Corps Network 2018 National Conference.

Betsy Wooster joined the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 2001 after working as an education specialist for The National Geographic Society and National Wildlife Federation. Betsy took BLM’s youth program from it’s infancy to a fully developed program with consistent implementation across the agency. Under Betsy’s leadership, BLM partnered with more than 30 21CSC organizations to provide work and training opportunities for nearly 2,200 young people in 2016 alone.

Betsy identified ways to engage young people in addressing BLM resource priorities, creating innovative programs and materials to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of BLM youth programs. For example, she created a national network of BLM youth coordinators and supported them through the complex tasks associated with federal employment rules and creating successful partnerships. Additionally, she was instrumental in developing partnerships with organizations such as the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, which allowed the BLM to leverage $2 million in non-federal funds to support conservation projects engaging young adults. Thanks to Betsy’s coordination, BLM’s youth hiring program is well-established, employing nearly 4,500 young people each year.

One outcome of Betsy’s dedication is that BLM leadership is now more aware of some of the opportunities related to young adults programs and working with Corps. Youth and young adult programming has become part of the BLM’s institutional portfolio, transcending administrations and weathering budget challenges. Through student internships and partnerships with Corps and other diverse organizations, the BLM is now a leader in developing a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.

[Congratulations to Betsy on her retirement from the BLM at the end of 2017!]

“Thousands of young people working today in conservation and land stewardship unknowingly owe their careers to Betsy’s persistent, patient, thorough, gentle-but-you-know-she-means-it efforts in Washington, DC to spearhead and institutionalize youth program partnerships in the Bureau of Land Management.” – Janet Ady, BLM (Education, Interpretation, & Partnerships)

21CSC National Distinction Awardee 2018: Jen Murphy, Corporation for National and Community Service

Jen Murphy
Operations Manager, Disaster Services Unit
Corporation for National and Community Service

The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award/National Distinction Award is presented on an annual basis to dedicated individuals from organizations and federal agencies that partner with 21CSC programs. The 2018 honorees will be recognized in Washington, DC during the annual meeting of the partnership for the 21CSC, part of The Corps Network 2018 National Conference.

Jen Murphy is the Lead Disaster Services Specialist for the Disaster Services Unit (DSU) at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). When disaster strikes, Jen coordinates with FEMA, state emergency management, and other national and local partners to help place AmeriCorps members where they are needed most. Throughout all phases of the disaster response effort, Jen leads the DSU team in supporting state service commissions and national service programs.

Jen works closely with numerous 21CSC organizations through the AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team (A-DRT) program. Such organizations as Washington Conservation Corps, Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa, Texas Conservation Corps and Southwest Conservation Corps are all part of A-DRT, ready to send Corpsmembers to disaster-stricken communities to clear debris, muck and gut homes, and manage volunteers. Jen coordinates with a range of agencies and partners to identify appropriate disaster work for Corps, ensure on-site housing and food assistance for Corpsmembers, find local transportation, and support Corps staff in addressing safety and risk management concerns. She also handles all financial agreements and reimbursements to Corps.

Jen previously worked with AmeriCorps NCCC in Mississippi, where she managed projects and special events in the Gulf region after Hurricane Katrina, helped establish the new NCCC campus in Vicksburg, and supported multiple disaster response efforts across the south. Over the years, Jen has worked with numerous Corps to respond to disasters throughout the country. In the past year, Jen and her team have responded to at least four major disasters across seven states and multiple territories, with hundreds of responding Corpsmembers. Jen and her team met this challenge and performed with the highest level of professionalism and effectiveness.

“Jen is an amazing person who cares about our country in the times of great need.  She has realized the tremendous asset Corps serve and the abilities our members and staff have to make a difference to people impacted during these incredibly trying times.” – Rob Spath, Conservation Legacy/Stewards Individual Placement Program

21CSC Champion of the Year 2018: Ben Baldwin, National Park Service

Ben Baldwin
Youth & Volunteer Programs Manager
Intermountain Region, National Park Service

The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award/National Distinction Award is presented on an annual basis to dedicated individuals from organizations and federal agencies that partner with 21CSC programs. The 2018 honorees will be recognized in Washington, DC during the annual meeting of the partnership for the 21CSC, part of The Corps Network 2018 National Conference.

After receiving his graduate degree in range management from Utah State University, Ben Baldwin worked at the university as the coordinator of an innovative internship program named Tehabi. Tehabi was meant to help connect university students to public land agencies through internships. His time working with interns and agencies helped Ben realize his passion for helping youth discover careers in public lands management. This led him to position with the National Park Service (NPS) as a Research Learning Specialist. In this role, he engaged youth in parks, helped create career pathways, developed citizen science projects and assisted NPS in connecting with the next generation of potential employees.

Ben currently serves as Youth and Volunteer Programs Manager for the NPS Intermountain Regional Office, which oversees parks in eight states stretching from Montana to Texas. In this role, Ben supports all youth programs in the region, including numerous Conservation Corps, the NPS Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), and various programs for volunteers and children. Ben works with Corps to build, enhance and improve programming for young adults.

Under Ben’s leadership, the Intermountain Region is currently working with over 40 organizations and leads the entire National Park Service for youth employment and engagement. They have created national models for tracking and reporting youth hires and projects, and set the tone for developing strong relationships between Corps and parks. The Intermountain Region is innovating in areas of safety, developing inclusive workplaces, and implementation of the Public Lands Corps (PLC) Hiring Authority.

Last year, the Intermountain Region recorded over 4,100 youth hires, of which 2,400 were from partner Corps. Ben’s goal for 2018: 5000 youth hires – the highest number recorded in the region and NPS to date.

Ben is constantly problem-solving with the Corps, always looking for ways to diversify funding, enhance the Corps experience, and gain the support and buy-in of other NPS staff. He is a true innovator who works to break down barriers and cut through bureaucracy to ensure young adults have every opportunity to succeed. He works to ensure the engagement of young people is always front and center in the priorities of the National Park Service at the national, regional, and park level.

“The NPS needs more people like Ben. He is an effective, dedicated leader who is fully committed to working with the Corps to develop the future generation of conservationists. He is a true innovator who works to break down barriers, cut through bureaucracy to ensure youth have every opportunity to succeed.” – Ron Hassel, Southwest Conservation Corps/Conservation Legacy

21CSC Champion of the Year 2018: Lonnie Pilkington, National Park Service

Lonnie Pilkington
Natural Resource Manager
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, National Park Service

The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award/National Distinction Award is presented on an annual basis to dedicated individuals from organizations and federal agencies that partner with 21CSC programs. The 2018 honorees will be recognized in Washington, DC during the annual meeting of the partnership for the 21CSC, part of The Corps Network 2018 National Conference.

Lonnie Pilkington was born and raised in Texas and graduated with a M.Sc. degree in range ecology from Colorado State University. He started his National Park Service (NPS) career at Rocky Mountain National Park in the exotic plant control and restoration program. In 2011, Lonnie accepted a permanent position with Glen Canyon National Recreation Area as the Natural Resources Program Manager. He works on a variety of projects, including exotic plant control, ecological restoration, wildlife surveys, and endangered species monitoring. Lonnie has facilitated numerous partnerships and programs to connect diverse young adults and veterans to the national parks.

Since 2012, his efforts have helped provide learning experiences and service opportunities to over 1,000 young people and veterans, including members of the Navajo Nation, Zuni and Hopi tribes. He has fostered partnerships with several 21CSC organizations, including Arizona Conservation Corps, Southwest Conservation Corps, Utah Conservation Corps, American Conservation Experience, and the Student Conservation Association. Through these partnerships, Lonnie has engaged Corpsmembers and other young adults in citizen science projects, wildlife surveys and monitoring, exotic plant control techniques, back country hiking and backpacking experiences, “Leave no Trace” training, cultural resource protection, river running and river safety training, geology, paleontology, and education about general conservation principles.

Lonnie has achieved these remarkable goals through developing innovative funding sources and partnerships. He has secured over $500,000 in funding for youth and young adults programs and developed over 20 partnerships with a wide variety of organizations, including local, state, federal, non-profit and university partners. Lonnie has put Glen Canyon and Rainbow Bridge National monument “on the map” for many organizations, and has rapidly become a regional leader in funding and supporting a diversity of young adult, veteran and volunteer groups. Many youth program leaders approach Lonnie every year for projects to support their organizations because of his ability to make things happen. Through all these endeavors, Lonnie has developed an excellent safety record and always emphasizes safety-first principles.

“Through his dedication and hard work, Lonnie has greatly enhanced resource programs and partnerships for Glen Canyon and is widely recognized as a leader in the field.” – John Spence, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

21CSC Champion of the Year 2018: Kelly Pearson, U.S. Forest Service

Kelly Pearson
Wilderness Technician & Volunteer Coordinator
Shawnee National Forest, U.S. Forest Service

The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award/National Distinction Award is presented on an annual basis to dedicated individuals from organizations and federal agencies that partner with 21CSC programs. The 2018 honorees will be recognized in Washington, DC during the annual meeting of the partnership for the 21CSC, part of The Corps Network 2018 National Conference.

Kelly grew up in southern Illinois with the Shawnee National Forest (SNF) as her backyard. She began her service as a Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) enrollee in 1976 on the SNF. She later secured seasonal employment as a Recreation Technician with the U.S. Forest Service in 1991, which led to a permanent spot with the SNF as a Forestry Technician in 1995.

For 26 years, Kelly worked on recreation, trails, volunteer, and fire projects. In 2011, she transitioned to her dream job: Wilderness Technician and Volunteer Coordinator. Thanks to Kelly, the Shawnee National Forest now hosts a large number of volunteer workdays and weekends, alternative spring break opportunities for college, high school, and middle school students, adopt-a-trail and adopt-a-trailhead internships, volunteer vacations, youth service opportunities, and trail building clinics. She earned the Forest Service National Volunteer Coordinator of the Year Award for her work.

In 2005, Kelly developed a college-level curriculum, Master Trail Steward Program (MSTP), to offer consistent training for volunteers. Through this curriculum, volunteers are enrolled in a series of Forest Service-led core training classes, including: principles of trail stewardship, trail construction and maintenance, wilderness use and ethics, leadership, working with traditional tools, team building, and back country living skills. At the same time Kelly was getting the MTSP off the ground, she developed the Shawnee Volunteer Corps (SVC), and outfitted the forest with necessary camping gear, tools and safety equipment to support these programs.

The MTSP and SVC frameworks continue to benefit conservation-related young adult and veteran programs. The curriculum has enabled AmeriCorps NCCC volunteers to quickly and effectively develop the trail and backcountry living skills necessary for completing wilderness projects in the Shawnee National Forest. Kelly also helped the SNF start year-long residency projects for AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers.

Most recently, Kelly has been critical to the development of a new partnership between the Shawnee National Forest and Greencorps Chicago. The partnership between Greencorps and the SNF has provided a, previously non-existent, link between an urban population that has historically been excluded from our nation’s public lands and Illinois’ only designated Wilderness areas. Furthermore, Kelly has made it a priority to provide exceptional enrichment opportunities for Greencorps Chicago crews. She organized what was, for many of them, their first canoe trip; planned for crews to be in the path of totality for the solar eclipse; and took a crew to the Miller Grove archeological site. This is the location where an early freed slave family began a new life and a new community after leaving the south in 1846. These projects and experiences, among many others, have connected Corps participants to their national public lands and their history in unforgettable ways.

“Kelly’s whole career embodies Theodore Roosevelt’s words, ‘Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage…’” – Kyle Williams, Greencorps Chicago