Category Archives: 21CSC Champion of the Year

The Partnership for the 21CSC Announces 2019 Winners of 21CSC National Distinction and Champion of the Year Awards

Annual award recognizes resource management 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 23, 2019 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) today announced the 2019 recipients of the 21CSC National Distinction Award and Champion of the Year Award. Honorees will be recognized during the annual Partnership for the 21CSC meeting, taking place February 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. This meeting is part of The Corps Network National Conference.

The 2019 National Distinction Awardees are Lisa Norby, recently retired as Energy and Minerals Branch Chief, Geologic Resources Division, National Park Service; and Greg Sanders, Job Corps and Veterans Fire Programs Workforce Program Manager, U.S. Forest Service. The 2019 Champions of the Year are Tate Thriffiley, Ecologist, De Soto National Forest, U.S. Forest Service; Jennifer Wheeler, Botanist, Arcata Field Office, Bureau of Land Management; and Craig Young, Terrestrial Program Leader, Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Network, National Park Service.

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 230 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 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 resource management professionals, community leaders, and outdoor recreationists. Champions are selected through a nomination process.

This is the fifth year the Partnership for the 21CSC will present the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award and the fourth year for the 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 support 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 people and veterans currently serving in 21CSC organizations will one day be the people managing America’s most cherished natural and cultural resources. On behalf of the Corps community, I extend deep gratitude to Lisa, Greg, Tate, Jennifer and Craig for inspiring the next generation and helping create more opportunities for future resource managers to gain invaluable skills and experience,” 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. Your efforts to engage 21CSC organizations is integral to the long-term sustainability of our parks and forests.”

In addition to honoring the 21CSC National Distinction Awardees and Champions of the Year, the 2019 Partnership for the 21CSC Meeting will feature remarks from, among others, Holly Bamford, Chief Conservation Officer, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; Ray Foote, Vice President, National Forest Foundation; Will Shafroth, President & CEO, National Park Foundation; and Elamon White, one of The Corps Network’s 2019 Corpsmembers of the Year and an AmeriCorps alumna of Mt. Adams Institute.

 

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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

 

 

 

Q and A with Greg Sanders: 2019 Champion of the Year

Q and A with Greg Sanders: 2019 Champion of the Year
Greg Sander is the Job Corps and Veterans Fire Programs Workforce Program Manager with the USDA Forest Service. Greg is a 21CSC Champion of the Year for 2019. 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 2019 Champions of the Year will be recognized at the annual Partnership for the 21CSC Meeting, happening February 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. This event is part of The Corps Network National Conference.

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

 

 


Tell us about your current role.
I work in Fire and Aviation Management with the USFS in Washington, DC. I am the Program Manager for Veterans and Job Corps Fire Programs.

Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in conservation/land and water management?
I started with the Forest Service right out of high school, working as a seasonal firefighter in Oregon. I grew up on a farm, but my Dad encouraged me to give it a try as he had also worked for the Forest Service while he was in college and really enjoyed it. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was hooked.

Tell us about how you have engaged with Service and Conservation Corps.
In addition to working directly with Job Corps, where we have wildland fire programs established on all 25 of our Civilian Conservation Centers, I also engage with various 21CSC organizations as part of the Veterans Fire Corps.

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.)?
I would encourage partnering with a 21CSC program if given the opportunity. Contact the Service and Conservation Corps groups in your area to see what kind of projects they can help you with. Their team member and supervisors are very motivated, and are committed to do the best job they can.

What are the most beneficial aspects of partnering with a 21CSC Program?
In addition to getting work done on projects you may have, it exposes the members of those programs to your organization and the work you do. It is also a great way to recruit talented individuals for prospective employees into your agency.

What advice would you offer to young people in 21CSC programs who are interested in careers in conservation and land/water management?
Talk to a number of people in the kinds of careers that you might be interested in. Ask them about the good aspects of their jobs, but the downsides as well. When you’re trying to land your first job, apply for a number of positions. While you may not get an offer for a job and/or location on the top of your list, there may be other great opportunities for you to start a career in.

Q and A with Lisa Norby: 2019 Champion of the Year

Q and A with Lisa Norby: 2019 Champion of the Year

Lisa Norby is retiring from a career with the National Park Service. Lisa is a 21CSC Champion of the Year for 2019. 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 2019 Champions of the Year will be recognized at the annual Partnership for the 21CSC Meeting, happening February 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. This event is part of The Corps Network National Conference.

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


Tell us about your current role.
I am currently scheduled to retire from the National Park Service and will do so when the partial federal government shutdown ends. Until the end of 2018 I was the program manager for two service-wide National Park Service (NPS) internship programs – Geoscientists-in-the-Parks (GIP) and Mosaics in Science.  Both programs place college students and recent graduates in science internships with the NPS.  The GIP Program places approximately 200 interns in parks each year and the Mosaics in Science Diversity Internship Program places 24 minority students and recent graduates in national parks to complete critical natural resource science projects for the agency.  In addition to my duties running youth programs, I also was the Energy and Minerals Brach Chief for the National Park Service’s Geologic Resources Division.

 

Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in conservation/land and water management?
I studied geology in college and earned bachelors and master’s degrees in 1978 and 1980.  I always wanted to be an environmental geologist. After a deviation in this career goal during my first career with Mobil Oil, I returned to graduate school to study environmental policy and management and then took a student trainee job with the National Park Service.  This position was converted to a permanent position when I completed my second master’s degree in 1996. My positions with the NPS have included environmental planning, oversight of oil and gas development in parks, supervision of staff managing energy and mineral development in parks, and then finally youth program development and management.

 

Tell us about how you have engaged with Service and Conservation Corps.
I have always been interested in youth programs and first started as a camp counselor in the Bahamas when I was in high school.  During college I participated as a crew leader and then science education coordinator for the Youth Conservation Corps in NM and FL. In 2007 I was given the opportunity to manage and grow the NPS Geoscientists-in-the-Parks Program, in 2010 developed the George Melendez Climate Change Internship and Fellowship Programs, and in 2013 was fortunate to partner with the NPS Youth Programs Division to create and manage the Mosaics in Science Diversity Internship Program. I have worked with 4 organizations over the past 13 years to administer youth programs on behalf of the NPS: Conservation Legacy – Stewards Individual Placement Program, The Geological Society of America, Greening Youth Foundation, and Environment for the Americas.

 

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.)?

  • Seek out partner(s) that have the skills that you need to create and administer your program,
  • learn from others that have run similar programs – reach out to learn what has worked well and not so well for them,
  • make sure staff working in the project/program have the passion and commitment to do this type of work,
  • engage with partners regularly so that any problems that arise can be resolved,
  • do annual program reviews and make needed adjustments, and
  • expect the unexpected and build that in to program and schedule – e.g., needed federal approvals for agreements, program and funding delays, and unresponsive, late, or incomplete input from recipients and agencies.

 

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

  • Working with incredibly talented and dedicated organizations and staff that are committed to delivering high quality projects/programs,
  • Cost effective work,
  • Incredible and innovative ideas, and
  • 21CSC resources available to assist with the administration of programs.

 

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

  • Take advantage of the resources that your project / program / organization / agency offers – network and learn about careers with the organization or agency you are working with,
  • learn new marketable skills – seek out and take advantage of training offered during position, shadow more experienced employees, volunteer, learn cutting edge technologies, get the degrees (college and above if needed to attain your career goals),
  • offer to help doing things that may lead to a new and unexpected opportunity or position,
  • stay positive even though not all aspects of the project will be stimulating,
  • be flexible in your early career choices because once you are in the government it is relatively easy to move between positions, and
  • never burn bridges because the conservation community is tight knit and you may work for someone you previously knew in another position!

Q and A with Tate Thriffiley: 2019 Champion of the Year


Q and A with Tate Thriffiley: 2019 Champion of the Year

Tate Thriffiley is Ecologist with the USDA Forest Service. Tate is a 21CSC Champion of the Year for 2019. 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 2019 Champions of the Year will be recognized at the annual Partnership for the 21CSC Meeting, happening February 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. This event is part of The Corps Network National Conference.

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


Tell us about your current role.
I am the Ecologist for De Soto National Forest and I serve as primary contact, planner, and coordinator for Gulf Corps activities on De Soto National Forest.

 

Tell us a little about your background. How did you get started in conservation/land and water management?
I grew up in Bay Saint Louis, a small Mississippi coastal town.  I spent a lot of time down along the shores of the Bay and the Mississippi Sound.  I always felt connected to the waves and the water.  There were several acres of wooded areas near my home as well, and I spent many days playing in the woods, climbing trees, playing hide and go seek, building forts of natural materials, etc.  I attended a week long marine biology camp at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Campus when I was 13 and also attended a vision quest program in a terrestrial nature setting at La Terre Bioregional Center in south Mississippi when I was 16.  The marine biology camp introduced me to the study of ecosystems and living organisms, thanks to Dr. Larry Bellipanni.  The vision quest program introduced me to connecting with nature in deeper ways, plant taxonomy, and also began my journey to a better understanding of terrestrial ecosystem functions.  Dr. James Inabinet is the director of La Terre Bioregional Centers and continues to be a mentor to me.  I’ve worked with James many times since I’ve met him, working with kids and young adults in outdoor education programs with Boy Scouts of America, YMCA, battered women and children’s shelters, high school and college classes, etc.  His heart of compassion, respect, and dedication to earth literacy and action have been a daily inspiration.

In college, I took as many field biology courses as I could to diversify my knowledge of biology and ecology.  In graduate school, my primary focus was plant ecology.  Two great biology professors showed me how rewarding the study of biology could be and I realized that somehow it could be a profession for me.  Dr. Susan Nodurft and Dr. Sam Rosso were and continue to be mentors to me.  Susan taught me that people become connected to nature when they are introduced to nature by someone who loves what they do in their role working with nature.  Sam taught me how to work with plants, how to be a scientist, and helped me secure gainful employment in my field.

After 5 years of field work on De Soto National Forest while in graduate school, I secured a job as a National Environmental Policy Act Coordinator for the Mississippi Army National Guard.  The MSARNG utilized thousands of acres on De Soto National Forest through a Special Use Permit and EIS.  I learned about legal aspects of conservation and protection for state and federal lands during this time.  My education, field work, and understanding of environmental protections and processes prepared me for the job as Ecologist on De Soto National Forest, a job I have done for over 16 years.  In addition to my regular duties, I often work with groups of children and adults, giving field tours and making presentations about ecosystem types, ecosystem management, and ecosystem restoration.

 

Tell us about how you’ve engaged with Service and Conservation Corps.
I began the relationship with a 2 day orientation to De Soto National Forest, beginning with a presentation about Forest history, ecosystem types, management, restoration, and why we do what we do on the landscape.  Then we spent field time visiting multiple locations to view in person and discuss all of those topics.  We continue to do field tours seasonally to acquaint the Gulf Corps with various plants and changing conditions in the natural world.

I appreciate the award but please know that this work requires a group effort on the part of project sponsors.  I spent a majority of time with the Gulf Corps, but I am fortunate to have great coworkers in National Forests in Mississippi and support from District Rangers, Program Managers, and Staff Officers.  Thanks to that support, me and several coworkers were able to dedicate time toward planning, and most importantly, training of Gulf Corps members.  In particular, I would not have been able to plan and coordinate effectively to move toward sustainability of this program without support and help from Ranger Anne Casey, Fire Management Officers Jay Boykin and Cliff Willis, Chainsaw Coordinator Jeff Meyers, Fire Fighters Josh Brock, Bert Rager, and Jody Rogers, Wildlife staff Ed Moody and Christina Vaughan, and Military Liaison Lisa Yager.  I also appreciate the support of the Corps Network, Climb CDC, and the Nature Conservancy.  Obviously, without them none of this would be possible.

Collectively, the Gulf Corps was trained in identification and GPS mapping of invasive species, pitcher plant bog restoration monitoring, plant identification, threatened and endangered species identification and survey methods (gopher tortoise, red-cockaded woodpecker, black pine snake), chainsaw operation and maintenance, hand tool operation and maintenance, pitcher plant bog restoration techniques,  prescribed burning and wildland fire-fighting, fireline rehabilitation, resource damage evaluation and rehabilitation, personal and professional communication, workplace violence prevention, tailgate safety sessions, and proper/appropriate use of personal protective equipment.  The Gulf Corps conducted all work mentioned here except the prescribed burning and fire-fighting but will be doing that this year.

 

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.)?
Investing time and energy in 21 CSC programs will yield benefits to your agency, your personnel, and your programs of work.  Positive work will occur on your landscape and waterways, and you will personally benefit from the rewarding relationships you build.   Plan appropriate training up front and have a dependable primary contact.  A well trained 21 CSC group is self-sufficient and sustainable – this saves time and money.  Keep in mind that by investing in 21 CSC programs you have a direct hand in training the next generation of land and water managers.  Your knowledge, conservation ethic, and work ethic will be passed on to young adults so that the chain of commitment and dedication to quality conservation and appropriate management will be unbroken.

 

What are the most beneficial aspects of partnering with a 21 CSC Program?
I have seen a great return on the investment of time put in to train Gulf Corps members.  When crews are able to function and be self-sufficient, the Forest Service is saving money and is able to assign their own personnel to other important tasks.  Aside from getting high quality work done on the Forest, it’s beautiful to see young adults from diverse backgrounds embrace conservation in their own unique ways.  The experience of working with living systems is different for everyone and everyone brings a different perspective to this type of work.  I have deepened my own understanding of conservation and the evolving role of conservation work by seeing concepts anew through the eyes of the young adults in the Mississippi Gulf Corps.

 

What advice would you offer to young people in 21CSC programs who are interested in careers in conservation and land/water management?
Ask questions, research, and learn all you can about the natural systems you work in and the tools of the trade that are available to you during project work (technological and standard issue tools/PPE).  Participate in as many different types of conservation work activities as you can as a member of a 21 CSC program.  Network – establish and maintain respectful working relationships with project sponsors.

Spend quiet time in nature when you can.  Open up and hold space for your own conservation ethic to rise from within and be realized.  Use that passion to fuel the journey toward reaching your goals.

21CSC Champion of the Year 2019: Lisa Norby, National Park Service

Lisa Norby
Energy and Minerals Branch Chief
Geologic Resources Division
National Park Service
[Retired December 2018]

The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award is presented on an annual basis to dedicated individuals from organizations and federal agencies that partner with 21CSC programs. The 2019 honorees will be recognized in Washington, DC during the annual meeting of the partnership for the 21CSC, part of The Corps Network 2019 National Conference.

Read a Q&A with Lisa Norby – Click here


Lisa Norby began her career as a camp counselor. She later worked as an Environmental Education Coordinator for the Youth Conservation Corps in Florida and New Mexico. Norby received a B.S. in Geology from Ohio University; a M.S. degree in Geology form Idaho State University; and a M.E.P.M (Masters in Environmental Policy) from the University of Denver.

For 26 years, Norby’s career with the National Park Service has spanned many different programs and projects, touching park planning, petroleum geology, and youth programs. In her most recent role as Energy and Minerals Branch Chief with the Geologic Resources Division, Norby oversaw two large-scale internship programs, in addition to overseeing energy and minerals projects in all national parks. For the last 13 years, she managed the largest NPS natural resource science internship program, Geoscientists-in-the-Parks (GIP). The GIP Program is managed in partnership with 21CSC organizations Conservation Legacy, Stewards Individual Placement Program, and The Geological Society of America. The GIP program provides internship opportunities to approximately 170 young adults in national parks each year, providing technical assistance to parks to complete critical natural resource science projects.

In 2013, Norby helped create the Mosaics in Science Program in partnership with Environment for the Americas and Greening Youth Foundation. This program provides meaningful, science-based internships to racially and ethnically diverse young adults.

“Lisa should be recognized as a national leader in engaging the next generation of conservationists on public lands because of her hard work, dedication, and lifelong passion for youth programming,” said Krista Rogers, Program Director for Stewards Individual Placement Program, Conservation Legacy.

Norby has been a dedicated and enthusiastic advocate for youth programming for decades. The partnerships and programs developed through her creativity and efforts have provided priceless experiences for young adults and helped preserve public lands. Norby recognizes the benefits of involving future generations in conserving public lands and seeks out opportunities to increase the visibility of environmentalism and youth programming.

21CSC Champion of the Year 2019: Tate Thriffiley, USDA Forest Service

Tate Thriffiley
Ecologist

De Soto National Forest, De Soto Ranger District
USDA Forest Service


The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award is presented on an annual basis to dedicated individuals from organizations and federal agencies that partner with 21CSC programs. The 2019 honorees will be recognized in Washington, DC during the annual meeting of the partnership for the 21CSC, part of The Corps Network 2019 National Conference.

 

Read a Q&A with Tate Thriffiley – Click here


Tate Thriffiley received his B.S. in Environmental Biology from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). While pursuing his degree, he began his career at DeSoto National Forest. After graduating from USM, he worked as a Field Crew Supervisor, a NEPA Coordinator, and later as an Environmental Officer with Mississippi’s Military Department.

For the past 16 years, Thriffiley has served in a diverse array of positions with De Soto National Forest, working in all aspects of rare, sensitive, threatened, and endangered plants. He currently serves as an Ecologist. He also serves as a primary contact for GulfCorps, an initiative to restore coastal habitats by expanding Corps capacity in the five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico.

“What makes [Tate] an incredible project partner is that he is equally passionate about the development of young people as he is about environmental and conservation stewardship,” said Stephanie Mathes, Director of Gulf Operations for The Corps Network.

Thriffiley is an original member and co-founder of an award-winning outreach program, Blues Rangers Conservation Education program. He understands what it means to nurture young adults and has consistently displayed patience, creativity, and caring when working with Corpsmembers in 21CSC programs. He also understands the importance of providing Corpsmembers with comprehensive training and certifications. Thriffiley engaged trainers to provide all Year-2 GulfCorps members with S-212 Sawyer A-level certification. Some Corpsmembers also received training in prescribed fire. These efforts have allowed the GulfCorps programs to have a much larger impact than initially anticipated. Corpsmembers have participated in a range of projects, including felling trees, conducting prescribed burns, and mapping and monitoring habitats as part of a multi-year project to restore Pale-topped Pitcher Plant bogs at De Soto.

Over the years, Thriffiley has earned more than 26 awards in recognition of his extensive impact.

21CSC Champion of the Year 2019: Jennifer Wheeler, Bureau of Land Management

Jennifer Wheeler
Botanist
Arcata Field Office
Bureau of Land Management

The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award is presented on an annual basis to dedicated individuals from organizations and federal agencies that partner with 21CSC programs. The 2019 honorees will be recognized in Washington, DC during the annual meeting of the partnership for the 21CSC, part of The Corps Network 2019 National Conference.

Read a Q&A with Jennifer Wheeler – Click here


Jennifer Wheeler studied Game Ranching and Wildlife Management in East Africa with the School for Field Studies and received her Associate of Science Degree from Cabrillo College. Following that, she attended Humboldt State University to study Range Management and Botany. While studying, she began working for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Lakeview, CA. In 1993, Wheeler earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Rangeland Resource Science with a minor in Botany.

In her role with the BLM, Wheeler has worked with the California Conservation Corps (CCC) for over two decades, facilitating life-changing service experiences for rural and urban youth from almost every social and economic demographic within the state of California. She is a champion of Corpsmembers, helping thousands of CCC participants learn about science, nature, strong work ethic, how to communicate properly, how to push yourself through adversity, and most of all, how to be a better citizen and steward of the environment.

For years, Wheeler has been mentoring CCC members and college graduates through BLM’s cooperative agreement with the Chicago Botanic Garden Conservation Land Management (CLM) internship program. She has provided training and practical experience in the fields of botany, range management, as well as land-use planning, NEPA and ESA regulatory compliance, GIS, and GPS.

Notably, Wheeler has worked with the CCC since 1994 on the recovery of coastal dunes and grasslands that provide important habitat for endemic plants, pollinators, and shorebirds. Over the years, these restoration efforts have engaged more than 10,000 CCC members and volunteers. Thanks to this work, a 2012 status review recommended the down-listing of the beach laiya – a coastal flowering plant – from endangered to threatened. She also worked with CCC members and other partners on eradicating over two dozen non-native species on over 200,000 acres of public land in northwestern California using manual regimes instead of herbicides.

“It is rare that one person helps provide so much for so many,” said Larry Notheis, Deputy Director of the CCC. “The education and opportunity for such a diverse set of young adults only happens when someone thinks more about others than themselves.”

 

Q and A with Jennifer Wheeler: 2019 Champion of the Year

Q and A with Jennifer Wheeler: 2019 Champion of the Year

Jennifer Wheeler is a Botanist with the Bureau of Land Management. Jennifer is a 21CSC Champion of the Year for 2019. 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 2019 Champions of the Year will be recognized at the annual Partnership for the 21CSC Meeting, happening February 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. This event is part of The Corps Network National Conference.

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

 


Tell us about your current role.
As a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) botanist my role is to know plants and their ecological roles, implement and monitor recovery actions for native, rare and endangered plant species, and to ensure sustainable, working natural landscapes that support local communities and the general public. As such I am responsible for Native Plant Development, Threatened and Endangered Species, Livestock Grazing, and Invasive Weed programs. Within BLM I apply for and secure funds, and support and administer cooperative assistance agreement partnerships with conservation service corps such as the California Conservation Corps. Under a cooperative assistance agreements, I serve as a project sponsor and collaborate and coordinate work in the field, monitor project field results, and report out on project accomplishments and success. I regularly meet with crew leaders and corps members to provide project and management area background and objectives, information regarding the species being conserved, and natural processes the project would be positively affecting. I answer any questions corps members may have.

Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in conservation/land and water management?
I grew up in the Santa Cruz mountains, exploring the diverse landscapes of redwood forests, oak woodlands, chaparral, and beaches. I hiked and mountain-biked all over, often alone. I’ve always been aware of my innate reverence for the natural world. Additionally, throughout my youth my Dad always took the time to call attention to identities and differences in species of trees, wildflowers, grasses, soil types and impacts that activities had on the landscape.

My senior year in high school I took a drama class and thought I wanted to be an actress. Following high school, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue that fantasy career…which turned out to be a very bad, but life-instructive, nightmare. Ha ha. By the end of that same summer, I’d enrolled at Cabrillo College with new clarity for paths I didn’t want to take with my life.

Between a my cultural anthropology and history of western civilization classes, I’d learned how important soil fertility and top soil were to the foundation and health of sustainable civilizations. I thought that conservation of soils relative to human land use practices was worth further investigation, and perhaps the direction I would take my professional career.

I discovered the School For Field Studies (SFS) when I came upon a course catalog in the college Career Center. This led to my studying Game Ranching, Wildlife Management, and the role of fire in grassland conservation with SFS in Kenya, Africa in the summer of 1989. Following this experience, I was certain I wanted to manage sustainable, working natural landscapes as a career and found Humboldt State University’s Range Management program. I loved it.

I graduated in 1993 with a B.S. degree in Rangeland Resources Science and a minor in Botany, as well two summers of work experience with the Bureau of Land Management in Lakeview, Oregon in range and botany programs. I’ve been professionally managing natural and working landscapes since 1991.

Tell us about how you have engaged with Service and Conservation Corps.
Through Cooperative Agreements between the Bureau of Land Management and the California Conservation Corps, I’ve been an engaged project sponsor continuously and to date, since 1995. These projects have contributed to the professional development and life experience of thousands of young adult corps members.

I’ve also been a mentor to Chicago Botanic Garden Conservation Land Management interns continuously from about 1998 through 2017. These were annual internships and lasted from between 5 to 10 months.

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.)?
I would point out to others contemplating partnership with conservation services corps that these programs often (and should) include professional and personal development programs for young adults. For many of these young adults, a service corps may be the ticket to the vital, life-structure they need, providing an alternate path forward following their high school experience. Often it’s their first time away from an urban culture and environment and into a rural culture and natural landscape. This can be an exciting time for them, with new relationships, perspectives, and self-discovery. They discover through hard work and training just how capable they are. Self-confidence grows and new dreams and goals develop. It’s important that conservation service programs weave-in safety training, academic development, and opportunities to grow and develop personal and career skills. This means that as a service corps partner and project sponsor, understanding, support and scheduling flexibility are key. As a partner, we can still meet project objectives while accommodating service corps member development activities. Through partnership support, we help prepare young adults for their futures, and foster their life-long sense of caring and/or responsibility to contribute to long-term natural resource stewardship.

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

• Employing and developing skill-sets in caring, young adults through natural resource conservation work.

• Educating the next generation of adults, and fostering their often new relationships with nature that supports long-term, natural resource conservation stewardship.

• Using people, with excellent target specificity, instead of deleterious chemicals for weed control.

• Economic stimulation in the rural communities in which service corps work.

• Providing a meaningful, life-development path following high school beside college or military.

• Meeting on-the-ground natural resource conservation project objectives.

• Service corps are cost-effective, in that they aren’t profit-driven; and they benefit a segment of society that needs a greater diversity of work and training opportunities.

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

• Pondering a 21CSC program?

Try it! It may lead to your most memorable life experience thus far! It will expand your comfort zone, strengthen your tenacity and endurance, and boost your self-confidence and overall fitness and well-being. You’ll see and do things you never thought you would, or could. You’ll have ample time for reflection, as you encounter new people and places, learn, grow, and form new experiences and life plans. You’ll make life-long friends. It may be the greatest opportunity to spend time outside that you’ll ever have again in your working, adult life. You’re young! Go for it! You’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain!

• Interested in a career in conservation and land/water management?

Be willing to take an entry-level job anywhere, even in the middle-of-nowhere-Nevada. You can always transfer later. Getting your foot in the door and gaining job experience is essential.

If interested in federal positions, please look at Office of Personnel Management (OPM) job series education and experience requirements so that you craft your college curriculum to maximize your chances to meet desired job series qualifications.

Copy and paste in browser: Follow links to various natural resource job series descriptions and classification requirements under Natural Resources 0400.
https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/classification-qualifications/classifying-general-schedule-positions/occupationalhandbook.pdf

Try internships! Minorities in Agriculture, Nature Resources, and Related Sciences (MANNRS), American Conservation Experience (ACE), The Great Basin Institute (GBI) and the Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) Conservation Land Management program are some examples offered to undergraduates and recent graduations worth checking out!

Confidence: Have it. You CAN do it!

Purposeful work in natural resource conservation is a career that can have high job satisfaction. And as the saying goes, ‘do you what you love and never work a day in your life!’

Finally, with populations continuing to grow, and people continuing to need and seek natural areas for a variety of purposes, recreation, food, commercial products, development, spiritual renewal, etc.; Natural areas continue to be used, fragmented, and impacted. Responsible resource use management and urban development, resource conservation planning and management, and landscape and wildlife conservation efforts are vital to healthy communities, natural landscapes with a diversity of wildlife, and overall, long-term resilience and survival. Landscape stewards, biologists, educators, planners and political leaders are needed in a variety of roles, driven by a passion to create or maintain environments conducive for a sustainable diversity of life. It’s a wonderful field of challenge, opportunity and reward – join us!

21CSC Champion of the Year 2019: Craig Young, National Park Service

Craig Young
Terrestrial Program Leader

Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Network
National Park Service

The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award is presented on an annual basis to dedicated individuals from organizations and federal agencies that partner with 21CSC programs. The 2019 honorees will be recognized in Washington, DC during the annual meeting of the partnership for the 21CSC, part of The Corps Network 2019 National Conference.

 

Read a Q&A with Craig Young – Click here


Craig Young received his B.S. in Biology from Centre College in Danville, KY and an M.S. in Environmental Forest Biology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He then worked with Virginia’s Natural Heritage Program as a natural areas manager, and with The Nature Conservancy of Georgia as an ecologist. Young currently serves with the National Park Service as a Biologist and Invasive Plant Program Leader for the Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Network. In this role he oversees the Heartland Exotic Plant Management Team, which is dedicated to managing invasive plants across all network parks. The network stretches from Ohio west to Kansas, and from Minnesota south to Arkansas. The size of network parks ranges from 160 acres, to almost 100,000 acres.

Young is a strong advocate and voice for Conservation Corps and national service in the Midwest. He is a valuable project partner, host, and mentor for many young people interested in entering the natural resource field. Over the years, Young has helped provided direct service opportunities and mentorship to nearly 200 AmeriCorps members. His dedication to conservation and to training young people has led to a long-term partnership that has greatly enhanced Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa’s work throughout the Midwest.

Young has specifically chosen to use his limited program funds to partner with Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa (CCMI) and has persuaded the individual parks within the Heartland Network to partner with 21CSC programs as well. He and his staff take part in CCMI’s training and orientation to provide expert teaching to over 36 AmeriCorps members each year in topics ranging from GIS/GPS data collection, to chemical application, to best practices in invasive species management. Young and his staff also help Corpsmembers pursue employment with federal resource agencies, offering career advice and guidance in résumé writing and USAJobs applications.

“[Craig] has a passion for and recognizes the importance of providing training, education, and experience for the next generation of conservationists and natural resource managers,” said Mark Wilson, Iowa Program Manager for Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa.

21CSC Champion of the Year 2019: Greg Sanders, USDA Forest Service

Greg Sanders
Job Corps and Veterans Fire Programs Workforce Program Manager

USDA Forest Service

The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award is presented on an annual basis to dedicated individuals from organizations and federal agencies that partner with 21CSC programs. The 2019 honorees will be recognized in Washington, DC during the annual meeting of the partnership for the 21CSC, part of The Corps Network 2019 National Conference.

Read a Q&A with Greg Sanders – Click here

 


Greg Sanders earned his undergraduate degree in Forest Management from Oregon State University. He started his career in wildland fire on an engine crew on the Malheur National Forest in Oregon, where he worked for seven fire seasons. He then moved to Tennessee to attend the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where he received his M.S. in Forestry. Beginning in 1988, he spent five years in a fire management position with the Tennessee Division of Forestry. He then moved to Virginia, where he eventually became Fire Management Chief for the Virginia Department of Forestry.

In 1998, Sanders was hired by the U.S. Forest Service as the first Center Manager for the Virginia Interagency Coordination Center in Charlottesville. In March 2003, he was hired as the Forest Fire Management Officer for the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, where he worked until moving into his current position.

In his current role, Sanders has been integral to the development and implementation of the Veteran Fire Corps programming operated nationwide by a variety of 21CSC member organizations, including Conservation Legacy, California Conservation Corps, Student Conservation Association, Mt. Adams Institute and Montana Conservation Corps. With Sanders’ support, the Veterans Fire Corps program expanded across the country and has continued to develop and grow.

Sanders champions and leads the efforts nationwide to engage veterans in fire programs and has worked to increase opportunities for alumni from these programs to successfully obtain jobs in wildland fire. He has convened federal and Corps partners to discuss best practices and opportunities for collaboration. Additionally, he developed a system to collect critical program data that demonstrates the success and impact of Veterans Fire Corps programs.

“[Greg’s] commitment to ensuring that all veterans who are interested in a job in wildland fire post-program is explicit and his investment here has benefited veterans across the country,” said Amy Sovocool, Chief External Affairs Officer for Conservation Legacy, a member organization of the 21CSC.

With a commitment to the community, Sanders shares and broadcasts hiring employment opportunities for alums and continues to work with the Forest Service to develop better connections for veterans and young people interested in post-program employment.