Category Archives: 21CSC Champion of the Year

21CSC Champion of the Year Finalists – 2018

The Partnership for the 21CSC would like to recognize the following finalists for the 2018
21st Century Conservation Service Corps Champion of the Year Award.
We sincerely appreciate all that you do to champion the engagement of young adults
and veterans on public lands.

Learn more about the Award
The winners of the 2018 Champion of the Year Award will be recognized 2/13/18 at the annual meeting of the Partnership for the 21CSC (P-21CSC), taking place during The Corps Network National Conference.

 

Ben Baldwin
National Park Service (NPS) – Intermountain Region

After receiving his graduate degree in range management from Utah State University, Ben Baldwin worked at the university, focused on running 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, thus landing him a position with the National Park Service (NPS) as a Research Learning Specialist. In this position, he engaged youth, helped create career paths, developed citizen science projects and helped NPS connect with their next generation of employees.

Ben currently serves as Youth and Volunteer Programs Manager for the NPS Intermountain Regional Office. In this role, Ben supports all youth programs in the region, including numerous Conservation Corps, the NPS Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), and volunteer and children’s programs. Ben works with Corps throughout the region to build, enhance and improve programs. 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, creating national models for tracking and reporting youth hires and projects, developing strong Corps relationships, and innovating in areas of safety, inclusive workplace development, and implementation of the Public Lands Corps (PLC) Hiring Authority.

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

 

Paul Burghard
U.S. Forest Service – Tonto National Forest 

Paul Burghard started his Forest Service career by volunteering with the Forest Service and has worked his way up to Forest Trails Manager, responsible for taking care of all trails for the Tonto National Forest.  Paul has extensive experience working with 21CSC crews to foster job skills development and promote youth engagement in trail maintenance, trail construction, and restoration projects. In his collaboration with partners, Paul garnered $902,677 in grant funding, $584,472 in partner contributions, and $169,160 in volunteer value, for a total of $1,656,310 in leveraged funding for sustainable recreation at Tonto in FY 2017.  Much of this effort was focused on bringing 21CSC crews to the forest so they could help complete priority projects.

In this past year alone, Paul demonstrated creative and effective approaches to planning, funding, and successful implementation of over 30 projects across the forest, leveraging partner contributions and participation to maximize work accomplished. Paul overcomes barriers of insufficient staff and resources by building innovative, multi-layered partnerships with a large variety of conservation groups, non-profit organizations and volunteers to achieve success for forest-users. Paul strives for stellar program management and builds excellent rapport with the public and partners.

“The amount of work Paul has accomplished and the amount of funding leveraged through partners is exemplary…[Paul] is the backbone of all the work accomplished in trail management on the forest!” – Sherry Smith, USDA Forest Service

 

Ed Hughes & Alexa Carleton
Coos Watershed Association

Alexa received her B.S. in ecology from the University of California, Davis in 2006 and received her M.S. in environmental science from Washington State University in 2011.  Alexa joined Coos Watershed Association in late summer of 2013, stepping in as the second Assessment and Outreach Coordinator in the organization’s history. Ed has 15 years of experience working for the State of Oregon, various agencies of the Department of Interior and several universities. He has studied salmon across their range in both the Pacific Northwest and in New England.

Alexa and her team are in charge of youth programming, teaching students and community members about watershed science and careers in resource management. She also provides supervision for the organization’s VISTA members. Ed coordinates the research and monitoring of fish species and runs the organization’s Coho Life Cycle Monitoring Internship program. The work done by Alexa and Ed and their education programs through the Coos Watershed Association help achieve the organization’s goal to improve stream habitat and water quality for the salmonids in the Coos watershed. This has nation-wide impact; the many hands of these youth and AmeriCorps members involved help restore endangered Coho salmon populations. The programs Alexa and Ed lead through the Coos Watershed Association are unique in that they seamlessly blend professional development and youth education and mentorship with watershed conservation science.

The mentorship I have received from them in only three short months has been phenomenal and I could not imagine an AmeriCorps position serving alongside any other mentors…Alexa and Ed are truly one-of-a-kind in the work they do, the mentorship they provide, and in the individuals that they are.” – Kaedra Emmons, AmeriCorps with United Communities Action Network/Coos Watershed Association

 

Stephen Carter
EcoServants

Stephen Carter was raised in Kuwait and Singapore until the age of 14 when he moved back to Ruidoso, NM. Stephen graduated from Ruidoso High School in 1980, going on to attend college in Wichita Falls, TX and Roswell, NM towards a degree in Human Services. In October 2000, Stephen organized a cave restoration project inside Fort Stanton Cave in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management, Roswell Field Office (BLM) to remove human impact from two miles in the Helectite Hall Passage. In 2003, Stephen Created EcoServants to work in forest stewardship and cave education, restoration and management. This was done while working at a local café as a waiter. In 2005, Stephen wrote his first Request for Proposal to the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps.

EcoServants has had 15 successful summer programs that continue to provide for the youth of New Mexico, along with its nine years of successful AmeriCorps funding. All of this is a testament to Stephen Carter’s drive, tenacity and heart for community. Under Stephen’s leadership, hundreds of EcoServants members have engaged in important restoration, maintenance and improvement projects on public lands. In 2016, Stephen was recognized as a True New Mexico Hero for his work in the community.

“Stephen Carter created a true grass roots non-profit organization with  EcoServants while working in a café and raising his daughter. Stephen had no large funders to make the task easier. Stephen simply put in his time and energy as a Board member until it could become a functioning non-profit that could pay a couple of directors…this path of creating EcoServants made for a more sustainable organization.” – Nathan Chavez, EcoServants

 

 

Bryan Hamilton
National Park Service (NPS) – Great Basin National Park 

Bryan Hamilton is the wildlife biologist at Great Basin National Park and a Ph.D. candidate in Biology at Brigham Young University. Bryan has worked with interns and restoration crews from Great Basin Institute (GBI) and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) for the last 13 years. He frequently invites members along to field-study opportunities to learn about conservation and wildlife initiatives within the park, such as the rattlesnake monitoring program and the bat catch-and-release project.

For more than a decade, Bryan has engaged numerous participants in the direct service programs of GBI and SCA, both 21CSC member organizations. Bryan has partnered with GBI to engage trail and restoration crewmembers enrolled in the Nevada Conservation Corps with meaningful natural resource project work. Under Bryan’s guidance and mentorship, NCC crewmembers have completed a wide range of habitat restoration and fire rehabilitation projects throughout the park, gaining valuable professional and conservation skills in the process. He has developed projects that benefit not only the Park and its resources, but also emerging resource professionals who will one day manage our public lands.

“Perhaps most importantly, [Bryan] makes every effort to provide an exceptional member experience and broaden the worldview of members that partner with him through engaging and informative education and recreation opportunities.” – Chris Warner, Great Basin Institute

 

Ann Harrison
New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC)

As a founding member of the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, now known as The Corps Network, Ann Harrison has had an extensive career in conservation service. From 1983 to 1994, Ann worked with The Corps Network in various capacities, eventually rising through the ranks to become President and serve on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors. Ann holds many accolades. She founded the NY Corps Collaboration in 1992 and has advocated for AmeriCorps programs in the Hudson Valley and Adirondacks.

Currently, in her role as Bureau Chief of Environmental Education for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Ann helps provide leadership to the Student Conservation Association (SCA) Excelsior Conservation Corps: a program that annually provides 50 youth and veterans opportunities to gain valuable soft skills, as well as marketable hard skills that will prepare them for careers in environmental protection. In the more than 30 years Ann has worked with New York state, she has been a tireless champion of AmeriCorps, SCA, and the engagement of young adults in conservation efforts.

Throughout it all, Ann has been SCA’s greatest champion.  She truly believes in the value of Youth Corps to connect youth and veterans to the environment, to give them the skills needed to succeed professionally and to meet the environmental needs and issues of our time.” – Kathy Baugh, SCA

 

Kevin Hood
U.S. Forest Service – Tongass National Forest Service, Admiralty Island National Monument

Kevin Hood currently serves as the Wilderness Program Manager for Admiralty Island National Monument (ANM) and the Juneau Ranger District (JRD) on the Tongass National Forest. In this role, he administers the program for four wilderness areas comprising 1.8 million acres. He supervises three crews consisting of eight seasonal employees and leads a robust program involving community partners and volunteers. With employees, partners and volunteers, his sense of purpose and leadership engrains in all a high-level of wilderness awareness and appreciation. Under his management, the team achieved a new level of stewardship through the 10-Year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge.

Kevin’s accomplishments throughout his career illustrate his willingness to lead beyond expectations and effect positive change. Kevin oversees a strong and expanding youth conservation corps (YCC) in the community of Angoon, AK, as well as multiple other partnership and volunteer projects. Kevin leads the Angoon YCC in partnership with the Chatham School District (CSD) and the Student Conservation Association (SCA), both current 21CSC organizations. Through these partnerships in fiscal year ‘17, a total of 3,804 hours of service were achieved for an appraised value of $89,622. In a small and secluded community that offers few opportunities, Kevin’s efforts help provide young adults valuable job skills training and career exposure.

With near-boundless patience and good humor, Kevin meets and overcomes all challenges. He tackles the taxing administrative and supervisory workload associated with his program and those inherent in building and nurturing important partnerships and youth engagement programs.” – Chad VanOrmer, Admiralty Island National Monument

 

Elijah Kruger
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation

Elijah Kruger works as an Environmental Educator at Humphrey Nature Center in Letchworth State Park. During his time there, Elijah has helped open a nature center and coordinated programs to inform the public about the center and all the other beauty that exists in the park. His passion for the subjects he conveys is evident and contagious to anyone he comes into contact with. Elijah ensures that the AmeriCorps members in the Student Conservation Association Education/Outreach Excelsior crews are set up for success to complete their jobs. The SCA Excelsior Conservation Corps consists of 50 AmeriCorps members that are 18-25 years old (or up to 28 for veterans). Elijah supervised members from the first Excelsior Education and Outreach crew and went on to guide members through a second season. These members helped Elijah with events in the park and engaged school groups in various outdoor programs.

Elijah is keen on having meaningful projects for members as they gain experience through their AmeriCorps internships. Under the supervision of Elijah, members engage visitors with programs such as Leave No Trace Awareness and Plant Identification Hikes.

“I didn’t know anything about Letchworth State Park a few years ago, and then I heard that the partner possibly needed help creating their new nature center. Since then, I have sent Elijah almost every member from our Education and Outreach crews. I want these young adults to experience what makes a great partner. I want them to learn from Elijah, who loves his job, and does anything for these members to help to help them succeed. Elijah is a dependable partner, who truly cares about the success of anyone that he works with.” – Leah Cantor, SCA Programs Excelsior

*Elijah is pictured in the lower left corner

 

Dawn Meier
U.S. Forest Service – Eastern Regional Office

Dawn Meier is the U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region’s Regional Volunteer, Youth, and 21CSC/Service Program Manager. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse with a degree in parks and recreation administration, Dawn worked as a crew leader with Wisconsin Conservation Corps. She has worked for the Forest Service for the past 30 years in various positions throughout Wisconsin, California, and Alaska. Throughout her career, Dawn has sought out opportunities to mentor and share her love of the land with others, whether through leading conservation crews, teaching life skills and work ethics, or fostering partnerships and engaging volunteers.

Since 2014, over 5,000 youth and veterans (and counting) have been engaged in paid and volunteer service projects across the region’s 15 National Forests and 1 National Tallgrass Prairie. Between 2015 and 2016, 21CSC participation grew by 177 individuals, and in 2017 over 9,000 participants, including paid youth and veterans with 21CSC partners, were engaged in the Eastern Region over the past year thanks to Dawn’s tireless coordination and advocacy.

“In short, [Dawn] does it all. From connecting with her contacts in the Washington Office, to putting critical agreements in place, to making sure every individual YCC member is safe, fed and comfortably housed each night, her contributions to our agency’s efforts to expand 21CSC cannot be overstated.” – Troy Ferone, USDA-Forest Service, Eastern Regional Office; Merlene Mazyck – USDA-Forest Service, Washington Office

 

Karen Minner
Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation

Karen Minner has worked for Delaware State Parks for five years in the Volunteer and Community Involvement office. Karen is a military spouse and was a dependent of a military father. She works closely with the veteran community in Delaware as an advocate for her husband and other veterans in Delaware. She knows the challenges of transitioning to civilian life for not only the veteran, but their family members as well.

The sole 21CSC member organization in Delaware, the Veterans Conservation Corps has thrived under Karen’s leadership. While the program started with five members in 2015, they received an expanded AmeriCorps grant just one year later to engage an additional ten members – a distinguished accomplishment for a fledgling program. Dedicated and tenacious, Karen has garnered recognition for the AmeriCorps Veterans, nominating the team for the 2016 Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award—which they won—and securing $40,000 in private grant funds to purchase conservation tools and enclosed trailers to increase the capacity of the members’ preservation activities. She has helped develop a program that trains members in marketable resource management skills, but also addresses the psychological and social challenges military veterans confront in the reintegration process.

Ms. Minner inspires the AmeriCorps Veterans to emulate the sentiment in that passage with her immutable belief in their untapped potential.” – Raymond Bivens, Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation

 

Jen Murphy
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)

Jen Murphy is the Lead Disaster Services Specialist for the Disaster Services Unit (DSU) at CNCS. She is responsible for managing national service disaster response operations, coordinating with FEMA, state emergency management, and other national and local partners. She leads the DSU team in supporting state service commissions, grantees, and national service programs throughout all phases of the disaster response effort. Jen works closely with a wide 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 the projects and special events in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, helped establish the new campus in Vicksburg, and supported multiple disaster response efforts in 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 members.

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

 

Kelly Pearson
U.S. Forest Service – Shawnee National Forest

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 US 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 build the Shawnee National Forest’s capacity and 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.

Most recently, Kelly has been the critical link in 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.

“ Her 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

 

Lonnie Pilkington
National Park Service (NPS) – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Lonnie 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 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 youth and veterans to the national parks and landscapes.  Since 2012, his efforts have helped provide learning experiences and service opportunities to over 1,000 youth and veterans, including members of the Navajo Nation, Zuni and Hopi tribes.

Lonnie has achieved these remarkable goals through developing innovative funding sources and partnerships. He has secured over $500,000 in funding for these youth programs, and has 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 diverse youth, veteran and volunteer groups.  Throughout all these programs and years, 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, DOI/NPS/Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

 

Moss Rudley
National Park Service (NPS) – Historic Preservation Training Center

Moss Rudley serves as the Superintendent of the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick, MD. The Historic Preservation Training Center trains and mentors maintenance workers, preservation specialists and facility managers in the proper techniques to manage historic resources within their parks. Under Moss’s leadership, HPTC partners with a variety of youth serving institutions including Stewards Individual Placement Program, the National Trust for Historic Preservation HOPE Crews, and Architecture and Community Heritage. Moss Rudley teaches valuable trade skills in carpentry and masonry, but he also exposes young people to the importance of historic preservation on public lands. Since 2015, Moss has facilitated 76 Historic Training and Preservation Internships through Stewards at HPTC. Seven Stewards Alumni were hired as NPS employees at HPTC.

In 2017 Moss created the Traditional Trades Youth Initiative. This project engaged nine members for 20 weeks. The initiative exposed youth to preservation trades through trainings conducted by master crafts-men and women. In addition to craft-related training, the members were also taught important life skills, such as employee responsibilities, workplace ethics, and personal financial planning. The 2017 program has been so successful that Moss has been able to leverage additional funding for a significantly larger 2018 program.

Moss is committed to all aspects of our members, he pays close attention to safety, preservation protocols and traditional work skills, but he also goes above and beyond to advocate for the youth that work for him.” – Joey Ruehrwein, Stewards Individual Placement Program

 

Scott Segerstrom
Colorado Youth Corps Association

Scott Segerstrom entered the Corps sector with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps as an assistant Crew Leader in 2002. He spent four seasons leading Conservation Corps crews in Utah and Colorado before joining the Bridger-Teton National Forest as a Wilderness Ranger and Wildland Firefighter. He returned to the Corps world in 2010 as a Director with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps before joining Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) as an Associate Director. He now serves in the role of Executive Director.

In his role with the association, Scott collaborates with partners to streamline the process of deploying youth, young adults, and veterans on public land statewide. CYCA also manages the largest AmeriCorps grant in the state, awarding hundreds of Education Awards annually to open the door for members to afford higher education. Scott continues to be on the forefront of engaging the next generation of conservationists on public lands and is a shining example of how Corps service can shape and influence a career. He works to increases financial resources for Corps and promotes Corps through legislative advocacy and strategic communication. In addition, Scott creates high-quality educational opportunities and networking for Colorado’s Corpsmembers and staff. He spearheaded the Careers in Natural Resource Initiative, which is a statewide network of more than 330 individuals representing 110+ government agencies, non-profit organizations, higher education institutions and for-profit businesses, all working to create stronger pathways to engage youth in natural resource careers.

[Scott] is a great role model for youth, loves the outdoors and continues to blaze trails both in his advocacy and physical stewardship.” – Jason Robertson, U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region

 

Betsy Wooster
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

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 bureau. Under Betsy’s leadership, the Bureau of Land Management partnered with more than 30 21CSC organizations to provide work and training opportunities for nearly 2,200 young people in 2016 alone.

Betsy has worked with partners to provide work and education opportunities for thousands of young people and veterans annually. Betsy has identified and developed systematic ways to ensure that young people are engaged in addressing BLM resource priorities by developing innovative programs and materials to maximize the effectiveness of BLM youth programs. To do so, she created a national network of BLM youth coordinators, and supports them through the complex tasks associated with federal employment rules and creating successful partnerships. Thanks to Betsy’s coordination, BLM’s youth hiring program is well established, hiring nearly 4,500 youth each year. She has been 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 youth.

“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)

 

Jim Ziolkowski
Mount Rainier National Park

Jim grew up in the Wisconsin, without a real understanding of public lands or the possibilities of a career in the outdoors through public service. He had a life-changing experience when he served as a Student Conservation Association (SCA) intern at Mount Rainier. This summer experience opened his eyes and heart to an entirely new world. Now, as the Roads and Trails Foreman at Mount Rainier, Jim has been a tireless advocate for conservation stewardship programs supporting youth and young adults. He regularly prioritizes funding to engage programs serving diverse youth and young adults in the park, and hires and trains his maintenance staff to not just get the work done, but to also support youth conservation service programs. Just this past summer, Jim and his team oversaw work with multiple 21CSC member organizations, including Washington Conservation Corps, SCA, and Northwest Youth Corps, as well as the Park’s Youth Conservation Corps (YCC). Each of these organizations engages different populations with different needs and levels of experience; Jim works to ensure all participants have a meaningful experience.

Jim represents a park that is extraordinarily welcoming of youth conservation service partnerships, and regularly prioritizes the often-inadequate trails budget to make sure that they are able to serve two highly important purposes: getting important work done to ensure that the resources of the park are both protected and available to the public, and investing in the next generation of park stewards.

Jim’s normally quiet, low-key demeanor melts away as he talks passionately about the importance of service, the value of hard work well done, and the impact working on public land has on the larger community.” – Jay Satz, Northwest Youth Corps

 

Calvert Curley, 21CSC Champion of the Year

CCurleyCalvert Curley is a 21CSC Champion of the Year for 2017.

 

Calvert Curley
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) – Natural Resources Department, Navajo Regional Office

Dr. Calvert Curley is a Natural Resource Manager for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Navajo Regional office. He has also worked as a Natural Resource Manager for BIA Navajo Ft. Defiance Agency and as an Air Toxics Department Manager for the Navajo Nation EPA. He is Navajo (Dine) from Ganado, AZ. Dr. Curley has worked with 21CSC youth programs in his former capacity with the BIA Ft. Defiance Agency, as well as in his current capacity. He was one of the first BIA Managers to partner with Southwest Conservation Corps to field Ancestral Lands crews on the Navajo Nation. Ancestral Lands is a SCC program that specifically engages Native American youth in meaningful conservation projects on Tribal lands. Thanks to Dr. Curley’s support, the Ancestral Lands Navajo Program has grown and thrived, demonstrating to other BIA offices that partnerships with Corps can be an effective way to complete agency work while also empowering local youth. Dr. Curley has become a national leader for the engagement of Native youth in 21CSC programs.


Q&A with Calvert Curley

Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in conservation and preservation?

Growing up in a ranching family, my father continues to improve his ranch by re-seeding, water development and addressing erosion on his ranch.  He implemented an erosion control structure such running silt fence lines and using straw bales.  He did this to protect the grass field which produces over 1,000 bales of hay annually.

This basically gave me the motivation to work in the field of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

I was fortunate to receive a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Agriculture, and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and a Doctoral in Business Administration (DBA).

My Dissertation study is available on the website titled: “Mixed Method Research Study on the Navajo Nation Grazing and the Correlation of Quantitative Data Analysis”.

What advice would you offer to resource management agency units and nonprofits interested in partnering with 21CSC programs?

  • What should one expect when partnering with a 21CSC program?

The partnership is a valuable experience for our local youth and that it is important to tap into the youth when they are still in high school so they can build upon the experience from the conservation service corps.

  • Where can those interested in working with the 21CSC turn for resources?

Individuals interested in working with the 21CSC can receive resource information from the local 21CSC conveniently located in Gallup, NM.

What advice do you offer to young people in 21CSC programs who are interested in careers in preservation and land/water management?

I usually let them know that it is important that as Native American Indian, our traditional way of life is embedded with Natural Resources. Protection of water and traditional medicinal plants is vitally important.

What drives you to support the 21CSC and youth engagement on public lands?

Being in the Natural Resource Management, I have seen there is a need to get more young individuals into the Natural Resource arena.  Universities are not producing as many Soil scientist and Range Management Specialist any more.

What do you see as the future of Service and Conservation Corps?

I believe the future outlook for Conservation Corps will continue to impact the Natural Resource Conservation in a positive way.  Being able to tap into the youth at an early stage will positively impact the youth and will be able to succeed in their education.

  

Carter Smith, 21CSC Champion of the Year – 2017


Carter 2012
Carter Smith is a 21CSC Champion of the Year for 2017.

Carter Smith
Director – Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

As the Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Carter Smith oversees 3,100 professionals across 11 divisions. In this role, he has been a significant proponent of the Texas Children in Nature initiative, created in 2010 to combat the disconnect between children and the natural world. Smith helped form public-private partnerships uniting natural resource agencies with the non-profit, health, education and business communities. Thanks to Smith and TPWD, the initiative is today comprised of nearly 400 partner organizations across the state that annually help 4 million kids get outside to play, learn and grow in nature. Additionally, Smith has developed a longstanding partnership with the Texas Conservation Corps at American YouthWorks to connect youth with conservation work on TPWD lands. Under his tenure, a dedicated year-round trail crew was created to engage Corpsmembers in full-time trail building and maintenance in parks across the state. Smith has also leveraged private funding to involve additional crews in wildfire recovery and restoration work.


Q&A with Carter Smith

Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in conservation and preservation?

I grew up with one foot in the city and one foot in the country and always thought I had the best of both worlds in terms of exposure to recreation and conservation issues in both rural and urban settings.  My family farmed and ranched in central and south Texas, so I spent much of my youth outdoors working, hunting, fishing, and playing, as did most all of my friends.  That interest in conservation was undoubtedly influenced by my parents and grandparents, who were strongly connected to and interested in the land, wildlife, and nature.  I was first inspired to think about a career in conservation by a state wildlife biologist and game warden.  Both men were consummate professionals and teachers, and it was obvious to me, even at a young age, how much they loved what they did for a living.  Ultimately, I elected to pursue a degree in wildlife biology in college, and after a series of technician related jobs assisting with research projects involving desert mule deer and pronghorn antelope, I was forever hooked.

How did you become involved with the 21 CSC/with Service and Conservation Corps?

I had my first exposure to the Service and Conservation Corps through my friend Parc Smith, the director of American Youthworks and the Texas Conservation Corps.  Parc approached me about them partnering with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to help build trails on various state parks.  Money at the time was tight, but the demand and needs were huge, so we figured out a way to get started.  We launched a series of relatively small trail building projects at select state parks around Texas, and Parc and his eminently capable and motivated team of budding professionals vastly exceeded our expectations.  Today, the Texas Conservation Corps has full time crews working all across our state parks system on projects ranging from habitat restoration to invasive species control to trail and bridge building to disaster response and a whole lot more.  Looking ahead, we have great ambitions for additional projects involving larger capital infrastructure projects, as well as restoration projects helping to mitigate long term impacts from the Deepwater Horizon spill.  All of these initiatives are being developed with an eye to engaging and developing the next generation of land and water stewards.

What advice would you offer to resource management agency units and nonprofits interested in partnering with 21CSC programs?

First, get familiar with the programs and services that your area Conservation and Service Corps offers.  They are undoubtedly offering something that you need, whether one is working for a federal, state, local, or non-profit entity.  The quality of work is exceptional.  The fee for services is inherently affordable and competitive.  The young professionals and their supervisors are talented, motivated, and deeply committed to what they do.  And, it is a great opportunity to identify new talent and prospective employees for one’s agency.  I simply can’t say enough good about them and what they do.

What advice do you offer to young people in 21CSC programs who are interested in careers in preservation and land/water management?

I have a couple of guiding principles that have served me well and which I have always imparted to others seeking advice about whether to pursue a career in conservation.  At the top of the list is a reminder that the work we get to do in this realm is measured in generational terms and benefits, not large paychecks.  For the most part, our proverbial paychecks come in the forms of pretty sunrises and pretty sunsets, along with a deep satisfaction in giving back to the lands and waters and communities of our Home Ground.  If ever there was a vocation that planted trees so that others could enjoy shade, this field is it.  Second, whatever you are out there looking for is also out there looking for you.  Don’t settle and be persistent following your ambitions and desires to work in conservation.  Last, but not least, find an experienced mentor or mentors who you trust, look up to, and have confidence in.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, advice, and counsel.  Pursue and engage with networks of other experienced professionals who can assist you in identifying, recommending, and vetting job opportunities that may be of interest to you.  All of us have been given a helping hand along the way and “giving back” to the next generation of conservation leaders is something most of us take great pride and pleasure in doing.

What drives you to support the 21CSC and youth engagement on public lands?

What I have appreciated most about our partnership with American Youthworks and the Texas Conservation Corps is the tangible nature of their contributions.  As a body, the Conservation Corps are all action, and the fruits of their work and contributions on State Parks are readily apparent for everyone to see.  Not only can they mobilize quickly, but they get things done right.  New hiking trails and bridges.  Erosion control structures.  Restored habitats–More wildlife.  Fewer invasive species–More native plants.  All of these things take dedicated, committed, talented professionals to accomplish.  And, the CSC Programs accomplish these kinds of projects in very timely, affordable, and high quality ways.  In addition, the Conservation Corps attracts a very diverse, inclusive, and talented demographic of young people interested in conservation and environmental careers.  As such, they are a great fit for prospective jobs within our agency.  Suffice to say, we get our investment back many times over.

What do you see as the future of Service and Conservation Corps?

I have always thought of the Service and Conservation Corps in the same positive light of the historic Civilian Conservation Corps that were responsible for building and developing many of the state and national parks across the United States.  They are just a contemporary version of them, bringing the same kinds of high quality projects, innovations, and contributions to these extraordinary public places and landscapes across America.  Today’s Corps members are the stewards of tomorrow.  They bring talent, motivation, and a bright, bright future to the conservation arena.  Their land and work ethic gives me great hope about our future and the collective heritage we will pass along to future generations.

 

The Partnership for the 21CSC Announces 21CSC Champions of the Year for 2017

Media Contact
Hannah Traverse
The Corps Network
1275 K Street, NW – Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202.737.6272
Email: htraverse@corpsnetwork.org

The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) Announces 2017 Winners of 21CSC Champion Award

Award recognizes leaders within agencies and organizations with which 21CSC organizations partner

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, January 12, 2017, The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) announced the 2017 winners of the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award. Recipients include both National and Regional honorees. Awardees will be recognized on February 14th during the annual meeting of the Partnership for the 21CSC. This meeting is part of The Corps Network 2017 National Conference.

The 21CSC is a bold national effort to put thousands of America’s young people and veterans to work protecting, restoring and enhancing the great outdoors. At the heart of the 21CSC are over 200 nonprofit and government-operated Corps that, through partnerships with resource management agencies and conservation organizations, annually engage roughly 25,000 young people and veterans in maintenance and improvement projects on public lands and waters.

The existence of the 21CSC depends on partnerships between Corps and project partners that are committed to engaging youth in the conservation and preservation of America’s natural and historic treasures. The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award recognizes individuals from these partner organizations – including nonprofits and resource management agencies – who have gone above and beyond to engage Corps and help train the next generation of conservation and preservation professionals. Champions are selected through a nomination process.

This is the third year the Partnership for the 21CSC will present the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award. Led by The Corps Network and Conservation Legacy, the Partnership for the 21CSC is an advisory group of key federal, state, local and non-profit 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 needs.

“The 21CSC is based on agreements between Corps and project partners, but the real backbone of the 21CSC are the relationships developed between the young people enrolled in Corps and the public lands on which they serve,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network and Co-Chair of the Partnership for the 21CSC. “We in the Corps community are incredibly grateful to the many project partners who understand the importance of giving America’s young people the opportunity to serve their country and build meaningful connections with the natural world. Thanks to the efforts of extraordinary people like those we honor with this award, today’s Corpsmembers are developing the skills to become tomorrow’s conservation and preservation experts.”

“Thank you Merlene, George, Calvert, Lamar, Joni and Carter – and to all of the 21CSC Champion of the Year finalists – for believing in the 21CSC,” said Harry Bruell, CEO and President of Conservation Legacy and Co-Chair of the Partnership for the 21CSC. “Corps depend on your dedication to thinking creatively and finding new and different ways to engage 21CSC programs to build our rural and urban economies and strengthen America’s unique and vital natural assets.   We sincerely appreciate all that you do to make new 21CSC projects possible and provide opportunities for all Americans to serve their country.”

The 2017 winners of the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award are:

*National Distinction Awardees

Merlene Mazyck
U.S. Forest Service (USFS) – National Office

As the Volunteers and Service National Program Manager for the U.S. Forest Service, Merlene Mazyck provides strategic leadership and policy guidance for a program that annually engages more than 100,000 volunteers and service members on America’s 175 national forests and grasslands. Through her advocacy, leadership, and innovation, Mazyck provides support within USFS to implement the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC). She advocated for and acquired millions of dollars for youth and veteran programs in the Forest Service. Since 2014, USFS investments of $61.3 million leveraged partner contributions of $51.4 million to engage 30,000 youth and veterans in protecting, restoring, and enhancing Forest lands. As a key member of the 21CSC Working Group – comprised of staff from several federal resource management agencies – Mazyck has played a role in developing and executing federal policy surrounding the 21CSC. Significantly, she manages the vetting process to ensure that organizations interested in joining the 21CSC comply with the initiative’s principles.

 

George McDonald
National Park Service (NPS) – National Office

George McDonald has served as National Youth Programs Manager for the National Park Service since 2008. In this role, McDonald has led successful efforts to launch numerous programs designed to enhance and increase the number of underserved, minority and disadvantaged youth participating in park activities and engaging in employment and educational opportunities in parks. Significantly, he helped launch NPS’s Youth Intern Program in 2009 to provide youth and young adults an intellectually challenging experience and exposure to a range of NPS job opportunities. McDonald has partnered with numerous 21CSC organizations, helping develop such programs as Greening Youth Foundation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Internship, the Latino Heritage Internship Program, and the Mosaics in Science Intern Program with Environment for the Americas and Greening Youth Foundation. McDonald has not only championed the 21CSC within NPS, but has taken time to write congressional responses and inform leaders across the Department of the Interior about the value of this initiative.

 

*Regional Champions of the Year

Calvert Curley
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) – Natural Resources Department, Navajo Regional Office

Dr. Calvert Curley is a Natural Resource Manager for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Navajo Regional office. He has also worked as a Natural Resource Manager for BIA Navajo Ft. Defiance Agency and as an Air Toxics Department Manager for the Navajo Nation EPA. He is Navajo (Dine) from Ganado, AZ. Dr. Curley has worked with 21CSC youth programs in his former capacity with the BIA Ft. Defiance Agency, as well as in his current capacity. He was one of the first BIA Managers to partner with Southwest Conservation Corps to field Ancestral Lands crews on the Navajo Nation. Ancestral Lands is a SCC program that specifically engages Native American youth in meaningful conservation projects on Tribal lands. Thanks to Dr. Curley’s support, the Ancestral Lands Navajo Program has grown and thrived, demonstrating to other BIA offices that partnerships with Corps can be an effective way to complete agency work while also empowering local youth. Dr. Curley has become a national leader for the engagement of Native youth in 21CSC programs.

 

Lamar Gore
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) – John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

As the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge Manager, Lamar Gore strives to work with partners, the community, and schools to meet both refuge and community goals in Philadelphia, PA. He began his career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as a biological technician at the Montpelier Office of Fishery Assistance, later working with several National Wildlife Refuges, other USFWS programs, and the Northeast Regional Office. At John Heinz, Gore helped develop environmental education programs at three local schools. Additionally, working with Audubon Pennsylvania and the Student Conservation Association (SCA), Gore has developed relationships with the public to create green space (habitat, gardens, learning spaces, etc.) in Philadelphia neighborhoods. He has also worked in partnership with the Clean Air Council, the city and others to improve multi-use trail connections from John Heinz to the community. Gore is an advocate for SCA programs, and has attained support to get more youth involved in local projects. He has a vision to make seamless connections between John Heinz and the surrounding community. The result of Gore’s work has generated new funding to create a youth community restoration program, putting youth to work on conservation projects during the school year.

 

Joni Packard
U.S. Forest Service (USFS) – Northern Region

Joni Packard has been with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for 25 years, working in numerous capacities in Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana. She now serves as the Regional Volunteer, Youth and 21CSC Program Coordinator for the Northern Region, covering Montana, northern Idaho, and North and South Dakota. Packard has been involved with Corps since she served as a Youth Conservation Corps member in the 1970s. In her current role, she has partnered with numerous 21CSC organizations, helping lead efforts to engage more veterans and diverse youth in conservation projects. Packard has championed and sought additional Forest Service funding for Corps and other 21CSC partner engagement efforts, increasing additional funding to Northern Region field units from $150,000 in FY12 to almost $1 million in FY16. Packard is considered a leader by her peers in other regions and as a trendsetter for creative ways to engage youth on public lands.

 

Carter Smith
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

As the Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Carter Smith oversees 3,100 professionals across 11 divisions. In this role, he has been a significant proponent of the Texas Children in Nature initiative, created in 2010 to combat the disconnect between children and the natural world. Smith helped form public-private partnerships uniting natural resource agencies with the non-profit, health, education and business communities. Thanks to Smith and TPWD, the initiative is today comprised of nearly 400 partner organizations across the state that annually help 4 million kids get outside to play, learn and grow in nature. Additionally, Smith has developed a longstanding partnership with the Texas Conservation Corps at American YouthWorks to connect youth with conservation work on TPWD lands. Under his tenure, a dedicated year-round trail crew was created to engage Corpsmembers in full-time trail building and maintenance in parks across the state. Smith has also leveraged private funding to involve additional crews in wildfire recovery and restoration work.

 


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.

 

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 on the path to careers.

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. To learn more about The Corps Network, please visit www.corpsnetwork.org

 

Zac Ribbing – 21CSC Champion of the Year 2016

Jeff DeQuattro is a 2016 21CSC Champion of the Year. Learn more about the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award.

Zac Ribbing 
U.S. Forest Service – Coronado National Forest 

Zac Ribbing works in wilderness and trails for the Douglas and Sierra Vista Ranger Districts on the Coronado National Forest in Southern Arizona.  Zac has been a Forest Service employee continuously since 2003 working in the fields of archeology, fire, trails and recreation management. Zac has a long history of partnering with Conservation Corps and other environmental NGOs in Southern Arizona.  He is widely regarded as a warm, affable, and supportive project partner.  Zac’s work with Corps earned him recognition as partner of the year for the County-based Coconino Rural Environment Corps (now Arizona Conservation Corps) for four consecutive years from 2009 to 2012. In 2014, he was the recipient of the USFS Wilderness Legacy Award.

Zac has worked with a variety of youth conservation programs, including Southwest Conservation Corps, Arizona Conservation Corps, American Conservation Experience, and the Student Conservation Association. He has facilitated projects, provided technical trainings, and arranged job shadowing experiences with other agency employees so that Corpsmembers can explore career opportunities in public lands management. He has personally mentored Corpsmembers, written letters of recommendation, and even spent time living and working with crews in the backcountry. In his 12 years with the Forest Service, Zac has established himself as an effective community partner, coordinating the efforts of multiple groups to complete high-priority natural resource projects.

“Zac is extremely dedicated, invested, and humble. He is an advocate for his agency, the land, and Corps programs. He is one of the rare individuals who finds balance in meeting the needs of both people and the environment.” – Brian Gold, Regional Director, Arizona Conservation Corps


 

Q&A with Zac Ribbing

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

I always loved the outdoors, growing up canoeing, fishing, hiking and biking.  In 1998, I landed a position with the Forest Service through the Student Conservation Association.  After that I realized I should strive to be involved with Public Lands and help others appreciate recreation opportunities on these lands.  Later I went back to school and received a Bachelor Degree in Forestry with a specialization in Recreation Resource Management (2003).  As I approached my graduation I networked with some of the folks I met in my SCA term.  The week after graduation I was working for the Forest Service and the rest is history.

2.   How did you become involved with the 21CSC/with Service and Conservation Corps?

I have a long history working with Conservation Corps.  Since I myself started in a similar fashion I feel it’s important to incorporate these programs into what I do.  In 2005, I came in a position more conducive to making decisions regarding how we accomplish work.  Since then, I have done my best to utilize youth conservation corps.  I appreciate seeing youth get excited about the outdoors and become stewards of the land.

In the last few years as the 21CSC has become stronger nationally, so has its incorporation into our program locally.  Here on the Coronado National Forest we have used it to fund crews that tie into the Public Land Corp act.  This has the added benefit to the young adult to not only gain useful skills and connections in the Agency, but time to be hired under the PLC hiring authority.  It’s also a chance for youth to try a career path out before they make a full commitment to it.  They may find there are opportunities they never even knew existed.

3.   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? Where can they turn for resources?)

I would wonder why they are reluctant to get involved this type of program first.

My feeling is that some folks don’t like or understand change, and are hard to convince a new way of operation is better. The old ways have already failed and holding onto the notion that it’s going to get better will leave them wondering what happened as they watch public services fade away.

It’s not just programs like the 21CSC and conservation corps that land managers need to be looking into, it’s all the support that can come from Non-profit organizations and partner groups.  Many times our partners can help with acquiring funding though grants and or volunteers.  Some grant funding is even aimed at non-profits to use on public land.  So the only way you can get help and funding is through their integration.

What to expect; well expect people, especially your locals, to become advocates for the land manager.  Volunteers or youth involved in Corps programs are more likely to stand up for what they have been involved with.  There is an inherent ownership and pride that comes with being involved, so the more you can involve your public and youth, the more support you will receive. It really can be a win-win situation.

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

If I were talking to someone already involved with youth conservation corps, I would say they are already on the right track.  Take the time to get to know the people in the agencies you are partnered with.  Get advice, if possible, from those agency contacts and express what you are interested in.  I can’t speak for others but I enjoy these conversations and can usually offer some advice on how to pursue a career in land management. If I can’t, I can at least put them in touch with someone who is in the field they are interested in.

If I were speaking to someone looking to get involved with an outdoor related career.  I would suggest they look into youth conservation corps.  Followed by a few contacts they should start with in their area.

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

To me the benefits are all around.  Public land managing agencies are struggling to accomplish work on the ground.  We have fewer and fewer people it seems every year.  Entry level positions are hard to find, and tough to compete for.  The corps offer a fantastic avenue for youth to get involved.  On top of that youth corps teach valuable land ethics from the start, so respect for the land and ethics are instilled to corps members.  Probably better than what they would receive if they were hired on directly in an agency.  Not to say that agencies neglect to instill values of land ethics, but that corps may do this better.

For public land I see this as a huge win.  The future of Public Land is in our youth’s hands, and if we want the continued preservation of special areas such as Wilderness to remain, we must convey or rather instill its importance to our youth.

6.   What do you see as the future of Service and Conservation Corps?

I really see it as the way to bring a young person up in the field of land management.  Combined with higher education, a person gets to experience a wide variety of possible paths while gaining skills and connections valuable for their success.  Not only success, but their happiness.  After all, what is the point of all this if there is not a rewarding and satisfying feeling in what you are doing.  I chose this path because I wanted to do something I cared about and be able to call it a career.

Bob Fuhrmann – 21CSC Champion of the Year 2016

Bob Fuhrmann 2

Bob Fuhrmann is a 2016 21CSC Champion of the Year. Learn more about the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award.

Bob Fuhrmann
The National Park Service – Yellowstone National Park

Bob Fuhrmann has made a difference in Yellowstone National Park for more than 20 years. He started as a volunteer and now serves as the park’s Youth Program Manager. For the past seven years he has worked as the program manager for Yellowstone’s Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program. Under Bob’s direction, this program has grown to become one of the highest quality YCC programs in the country, with a strong emphasis on career development. In addition to working with the park’s YCC, Bob has partnered with Montana Conservation Corps, the Student Conservation Association and Groundwork USA. He purposely seeks the underserved and underrepresented, making a concerted effort to recruit and train Native American and urban youth. This is perhaps best demonstrated through his help in creating the Groundwork USA Yellowstone Experience, which, over the past five years, has allowed more than 250 diverse youth from 20 cities to experience working and recreating in the park. In 2015, over 130 young people were under Bob’s supervision, over 70 of whom were from cities or reservations. Bob and his staff work with past students, encouraging and mentoring them into other Corps opportunities or careers with NPS and other public land/water management agencies.

“Bob Fuhrmann is a positive force. He works for growth, professionalism and most of all, opportunity. He sees to create opportunities for others.” – Mike Coonan, Park Ranger, Yellowstone National Park

“Fuhrmann doesn’t just lead from behind a desk…[his] interest in supporting the youth directly and finding new avenues of appreciation helps the youth see that their work is important and necessary.” – Curt Collier, National Youth Programs Coordinator, Groundwork USA


Q&A with Bob Fuhrmann

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

An appreciation for the outdoors and an interest in conservation started when I was young, living next to a forest preserve north of Chicago. In high school, my Eagle Scout project included overseeing 10 scouts as we helped restore an historic log cabin used for educational programs. After college, I volunteered as a wildlife technician in Yellowstone and received my masters degree in Fish and Wildlife Management conducting fox research which again included working with volunteers and interns. I also volunteered for Expedition Yellowstone where I worked with grades 5-8 as they lived and learned in Yellowstone. Eventually I became the manager of that program which has evolved into the job I have today.

2.     How did you become involved with the 21CSC/with Service and Conservation Corps?

In 2010, I became Yellowstone’s Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program manager. This program expanded into 2 month-long sessions in which 62 youth per summer take part in this work-based education opportunity. In addition, we have established partnerships with Groundwork USA, Montana Conservation Corps, and the Student Conservation Association to increase the number of youth working on conservation related projects in the park. Through these programs, I learned about the wide variety of conservation corps in the US and was introduced to the 21st Century Service Conservation Corps. In turn, I have been able to share a list of corps with youth who have participated in Yellowstone’s programs.

3.     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? Where can they turn for resources?)

My advice is to seek creative ways to include a diversity of youth in a wide variety of projects. Youth are able to accomplish more than what some people imagine and are excited to do so. The smiles and satisfaction of these youth working and learning in Yellowstone provide them with quite a sense of achievement. Besides the much needed completion of projects many of the youth come away with an almost indescribable sense of ownership, pride, and enthusiasm for what they have accomplished. This becomes an excellent starting point for creating stewards of open space. Many service organizations exist, it is a matter of finding what partnership best meets the needs of your area and the youth that will be involved.

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

If possible, youth should focus on becoming involved locally with conservation programs and to seek other opportunities such as summer programs with YCC or other youth corps.  Starting in this way will expose youth to the many levels of conservation involvement that exist and help them find the right fit. Also having a great ATTITUDE will get you further than any other personality trait.

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

Partnering with a 21CSC program, such as Groundwork USA, reaps many benefits for Yellowstone and for the youth. In 2015, 61 Groundwork members spent a week in the park living, working, learning, and exploring. For many, it was their first time visiting a large western National Park, seeing large animals in their natural habitat, and seeing geothermal features. They worked on trail projects, created bumper logs, and installed “bear boxes” in campgrounds.

While exposure of youth to new areas and the completion of projects are beneficial, the true benefits go beyond this.  Many youth not only discuss the sense of accomplishment they feel, they also take pride in their work and feel a sense of ownership in something bigger than themselves.  These qualities penetrate all aspects of their lives and help to break down personal and societal barriers.  I am truly humbled to hear about the deep impact these programs have on the lives of its participants.

One youth commented, “I am so thankful to be here. It is a great way to increase my knowledge base and learn to be a better advocate of nature. This kind of work helps you as much as it helps the park.”

6.     What do you see as the future of Service and Conservation Corps?

Having youth involved in hands-on service projects on public lands helps create future stewards of these lands. Youth leave with a sense of ownership for a place they have never been to before and a sense of pride for what they accomplished. In places like Yellowstone, with ever increasing visitation and visitor impact, service and conservation corps are imperative to assist the park in protecting resources and preserving these natural places. Having youth involvement connects them to the outdoors and to each other. So many youth today do not have these important opportunities.  My hope is that the future of service and conservation corps will include more organizations and agencies working to increase the number of youth getting involved and helping not only themselves but their surroundings as well.

 

Jeff DeQuattro – 21CSC Champion of the Year 2016

JeffDeQuattro_LM

Jeff DeQuattro is a 2016 21CSC Champion of the Year. Learn more about the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award.

Jeff DeQuattro
The Nature Conservancy

Jeff DeQuattro serves as the Director of Restoration for The Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico Program. While at The Nature Conservancy, Jeff has worked on many coastal restoration projects, including some that have engaged hundreds of volunteers. Most recently, Jeff worked with The Corps Network (TCN) to design and manage the first pilot projects of TCN’s Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative. These projects utilized current 21CSC programs (Texas Conservation Corps and Community Training Works, Inc.) in partnership with local NGOs and communities to engage local youth in ecosystem restoration projects along the Gulf Coast. Jeff was also an architect of the recently funded NOAA Gulf Coast Conservation Corps program. In early December 2015, the RESTORE Council voted to allocate $8 million to the development and implementation of a Gulf Coast Conservation Corps (GCCC) Program over the next three years.  This proposed GCCC Program will employ approximately 25 crewmembers per Gulf Coast State, per year, with a total of approximately 375 crewmembers working a total of 750,000 hours.

“In Jeff’s spare time, he helps run a non-profit bicycle shop called the Delta Bike Project. This bike shop has become an institution in Mobile, Alabama as they work hard at engaging people at or below the poverty level to earn bicycles and bicycle parts through community volunteerism.” – Joe Gersen, Senior Director of Government Affairs, The SCA


Q&A with Jeff DeQuattro

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

During college I spent the summer of 2000 working for the Mexican Government at a Sea Turtle Research Station on the Baja Peninsula. My supervisor was very active and respected in the community and I got to experience that. The delicate balance between the depressed economy of a small fishing village and their desire to protect their natural resources made me focus my major on environmental science studies. After I got my bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz in 2004 I went directly into environmental consulting, which brought me to my job at The Nature Conservancy in 2009 as a project manager, and then to my current position as Conservation Corps Program Lead and Director of Restoration for our Gulf of Mexico Program.

2.   How did you become involved with the 21CSC/with Service and Conservation Corps?

Work with the Conservation Corps and other similar programs is a priority of our organization, and something I am passionate about. We expanded a strong partnership with the Corps Network in 2014 and helped establish the Gulf of Mexico Conservation Corps with the start of the Climb CDC Conservation Corps in Gulfport, Mississippi. The first crews conducted rapid stream assessments along 9 coastal and streams in urban watersheds along the coast of Mississippi. The two projects lasted just over 4 months and gave us valuable scientific data that we have used to create Conservation Action Plans for that region of the Gulf. From those two phases of a pilot project we expanded with a large grant from NFWF and a private donor that will allow us to continue the work in Mississippi, but also fund the Forgotten Coast Conservation Corps in Apalachicola, Florida, as well as a veteran’s fire corps in 2016.

3.   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? Where can they turn for resources?)

Think about conservation corps in terms of achieving real conservation goals – number of acres burned, amount of shoreline restored, number of people and communities reached. These crews have the capacity to achieve measurable and significant goals given the proper training. They also have the best potential to impact and/or influence a community.

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

Conservation corps programs provide a solid foundation for anyone looking to start out in conservation. Young people with that experience already have a leg up on what it means to do real conservation. Work hard, ask questions and keep your mind open.

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

The strength of partnerships in the communities that we work. By far that is the most beneficial aspect of our partnership.

6.   What do you see as the future of Service and Conservation Corps?

I see an established and sustainable network of conservation corps on the Gulf Coast that help organizations like The Nature Conservancy and others accomplish high quality conservation goals.

21CSC Champions of the Year – 2016

It is our great pleasure to announce that the following individuals have been selected as the 21CSC Champions of the Year for 2016.
Learn more about the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award


JeffDeQuattro_LMJeff DeQuattro
Director of Restoration, Gulf of Mexico Program
The Nature Conservancy 

Learn more about Jeff and read a Q&A with him

 

 


Bob FuhrmannBob Fuhrmann
Youth Programs Director
National Park Service – Yellowstone National Park 

Learn more about Bob and read a Q&A with him

 

Zac Ribbing
Wilderness/Trails
U.S. Forest Service – Coronado National Forest 

Learn more about Zac and read a Q&A with him 

 

 


This year, we would also like to recognize the following individual with the 21CSC National Distinction Award for her efforts to support the 21CSC on a federal level.

Leslie weldonLeslie Weldon
Deputy Chief, National Forest System
U.S. Forest Service

In November 2011, Leslie Weldon was named Deputy Chief for National Forest System with the USDA Forest Service. In this role, Leslie is the lead executive responsible for policy, oversight and direction for the natural resource programs for managing the 193 million acres of National Forests and Grasslands so they best demonstrate sustainable multiple-use management, using an ecological approach, to provide benefits to citizens. From 2009 – 2011, Leslie served as Regional Forester for the Northern Region of the Forest Service. In this position she provides oversight for management of 28 million acres of National Forests and Grasslands as well as State & Private Forestry programs in Northern Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota.

Read about the 21CSC Champion of the Year Finalists – 2016

The Partnership for the 21CSC would like to recognize the following finalists for the 2016 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Champion of the Year Award. We sincerely appreciate all that you do to champion youth engagement on public lands.

The winners of the 2016 Champion of the Year Award will be announced on February 1, 2016.
Click here to read about the finalists.


Steve Baumann
National Park Service – El Morro and El Malpais National Monuments

Kara Chadwick
U.S. Forest Service – San Juan National Forest

Calvin Chimoni
National Park Service – Heritage Preservation Division, Vanishing Treasures Program

Allan Comp
Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)

Jeff DeQuattro
The Nature Conservancy

Bob Fuhrmann 
National Park Service – Yellowstone National Park

Cindy McArthur
U.S. Forest Service – National Partnership Office

John Medose
Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

Lonnie Pilkington
National Park Service – Glen Canyon NRA and Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Zac Ribbing
U.S. Forest Service – Coronado National Forest

Paul Smith
U.S. Forest Service – Ochoco National Forest 

Kevin Thompson
Bureau of Land Management – Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit

Mike Thompson
Sonoma County Water Agency

David Vekasy
National Park Service – San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

Kristina Waggoner
Grand Staircase Escalante Partners

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