Veterans Corps Discussed at Capitol Hill Briefing Hosted by House Outdoor Recreation Caucus and Outdoor Industry Association on Veterans and the Outdoors

Amy Sovocool, Co-CEO of Conservation Legacy & Co-Chair of Partnership for 21CSC, joined panelists from several outdoor and veteran-related organizations to discuss model and benefits of Veterans Conservation Corps programs.


WASHINGTON, DC (Sept. 22, 2017)
– Amy Sovocool, Co-CEO of Conservation Legacy and Co-Chair of the Partnership for the 21CSC, discussed the model and benefits of Veterans Conservation Corps at a September 14 Capitol Hill briefing on Veterans and the Outdoors. The event was hosted by the House Outdoor Recreation Caucus and supported by the Outdoor Industry Association.

The briefing focused on exploring how nature is used to help veterans heal, develop a sense of community, reintegrate into civilian life, and connect with the people and places they fought to protect.

Since 2009, Veterans Conservation Corps programs across the country have engaged more than 1,600 veterans in conservation service and job training through partnerships with such agencies as the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Veterans Corps are designed to give participants the opportunity to build on their military experience and ethic for service by training for careers in resource management. The Corps model benefits veterans in a range of ways: it provides a similar structure and sense of purpose as the military; offers the therapeutic benefits of getting outdoors and working with fellow veterans; and helps participants transition back to civilian life through skills development and other supportive services.

In a 2016, 90 percent of veterans surveyed indicated that Corps opportunities helped them transition from military to civilian life. The Veterans Corps model also benefits public lands and the outdoor economy by completing important maintenance and improvement projects that increase access to recreation opportunities.

The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) is an initiative to expand public-private partnerships to annually engage 100,000 young adults and veterans in Corps. The 21CSC Act (S.1403, H.R.2987) – a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would help support this goal – was introduced by several former service members, including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a U.S. Navy veteran; Rep. Marth McSally (R-AZ), a U.S. Air Force veteran; and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. The 21CSC initiative also has the backing of retired four-star U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal.

With crews based in Colorado and Arizona, Conservation Legacy’s Veterans Fire Corps (VFC) program offers post-9/11 veterans the opportunity to gain training and work experience in forestry and wildland firefighting through an AmeriCorps term of service. During a three to five-month-long term, VFC participants serve alongside fellow former military members on fuels mitigation and wildland firefighting projects. Corpsmembers spend up to eight days at a time living and working outdoors.

“Outdoor Industry Association was honored to be part of the House Outdoor Recreation Caucus briefing on veterans and the outdoors” said Jessica Wahl, Government Affairs Manager for the Outdoor Industry Association.  “There is a deep connection between the outdoors and our country’s veterans and OIA thanks the caucus co-chairs Congressman Simpson and Congressman Polis for shining a light on this important issue. W.L. Gore & Associates and other outdoor businesses are committed to supporting veterans and active military through their products and programs and we hope to continue engaging OIA members on this issue.”

“We thank Rep. Mike Simpson, Rep. Jared Polis, the members of the House Outdoor Recreation Caucus, and the Outdoor Industry Association for hosting this important conversation on the intersection of America’s veterans and the great outdoors,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network and Co-Chair of the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. “Veterans Conservation Corps programs address several issues faced by returning military. In addition to offering former service members the healing experience of spending time outdoors among fellow veterans, Corps help veterans leverage skills learned in the military to extend their ethic of service into careers in service to our public lands. The bipartisan, bicameral 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act would help create even more opportunities for post-9/11 veterans to benefit from programs like the VFC.”

“Service to our public lands helps veterans re-establish themselves,” said Sovocool. “Many veterans exit the military hoping to find a new mission and sense of purpose, but they are unsure where to turn. Through programs like the Veterans Fire Corps, former service members find a new mission protecting and maintaining access to some of our country’s most treasured national parks and forests. Public lands are more than a place for recreation; they are a point of national pride. Pride in our country is important to our veterans. I thank the House Outdoor Recreation Caucus, the Outdoor Industry Association, and my fellow panelists for helping shed light on the important role the outdoor community can play in assisting America’s veterans in their transition back to civilian life.”

The bipartisan House Outdoor Recreation Caucus was created in April 2017 with the goal of “encourage[ing] healthy, active lifestyles that foster an appreciation of America’s lands and waters and support local communities through outdoor recreation. The caucus is chaired by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).

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About the 21CSC
The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) is a bipartisan, national initiative to leverage public-private relationships for cost-effective maintenance and improvement of America’s infrastructure, lands and waters. The 21CSC envisions partnerships between resource management agencies and Corps: organizations that engage America’s young adults and veterans in work-based national service projects that restore, conserve and enhance infrastructure and public lands and waters.

The 21CSC is an easy-to-implement solution to America’s aging infrastructure that also develops the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, recreationists, sportsmen and women, and resource managers. While gaining in-demand skills through their service, Corps participants also build respect and appreciation for our country, hard work, and the outdoors. To learn more about the 21CSC, please visit www.21csc.org.

 

About Conservation Legacy
Conservation Legacy is a national organization that cultivates local action to produce enduring widespread impact in communities, ecosystems and people. Conservation Legacy operates locally-based 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 Arizona Conservation Corps, BRIDGE Network, Great Appalachian Valley Conservation Corps, Southwest Conservation Corps, Southeast Conservation Corps and Preserve America Youth Summits. For more information, please visit www. conservationlegacy.org.

 

About The Corps Network
The Corps Network, the national association of Service and Conservation Corps, provides leadership and support to over 130 Corps across the United States. Through advocacy, and providing Corps access to funding opportunities and expert guidance, The Corps Network annually enables more than 25,000 Corpsmembers to strengthen communities, improve the environment and transform their lives through service. To learn more about The Corps Network, please visit www.corpsnetwork.org.

 

 

 

21CSC – Partners in Improving Public Lands & Waters: Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Established in 1976, The 14,000-acre Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is one of fourteen Regional Priority Urban Wildlife Refuges in the United States. With trailheads located just blocks from the Mall of America, the site is an easily-accessible wilderness escape for residents of the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs.

Visitors come to explore wetlands, forests and prairies; view wildlife; and partake in hunting, fishing and other recreational activities. The refuge is an important habitat for fish, reptiles, insects and migratory birds. To maintain healthy wildlife populations, and preserve the habitats on which these species depend, the U.S. Fish and Wild Service (USFWS) must collect and analyze a great deal of data. Regular surveys of habitats and wildlife populations help USFWS know where to focus conservation efforts, and document the effectiveness of management actions.

To help collect this vital data, USFWS partners with Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa (CCMI) – a 21CSC Member Organization – to place interns at the refuge.

“The Conservation Corps is where students and recent graduates can look for internships and seasonal jobs,” said Vicki Sherry, a Wildlife Biologist at the refuge. “It is a great place to advertise our positons since we know we can get confident applicants that apply through the Corps.”

This summer, 24-year-old Corrie Nyquist of Cokato, MN served as a CCMI AmeriCorps intern at the refuge. A graduate student in the Entomology Department at the University of Minnesota, Nyquist studied aquatic insects and trout food webs. Among other activities, her internship at the refuge involved a trout stream monitoring project, as well as surveys of various plant, insect and reptile populations.

Specifically, Nyquist studied how air and ground water temperatures affect when and which types of aquatic insects emerge. These insects are a critical food source for trout, so their abundance and diversity are essential to trout survival.
Nyquist was also involved in surveying for the endangered rusty-patched bumblebee. This involves catching live bumblebees as they forage, then releasing them after identification can be made. As pollinators, bees are critically important to many other species in the ecosystem.

Additionally, Nyquist helped the refuge restore several oak savannas. Following prescribed burns and clearing efforts, Nyquist monitored which plant species grew in the understory, and gathered data on the canopy cover.

“These surveys benefit the refuge by helping us identify where species of concern are located,” said Sherry. “They also help us document the response of our management actions, which is often required when receiving restoration grants…Through this partnership, we are able to complete our mission critical biological surveys and restoration monitoring. It enables us to provide quality internships that help our field station, but also give the intern the job experience to enhance their resume.”

After completing her master’s degree, Nyquist hopes to pursue a career in conservation, preferably working in aquatic environments.

As Sherry says to other resource management units considering partnering with a 21CSC organization:

“The Corps was easy to work with in partnering to provide internships to college students and recent graduates. They took care of the recruiting and administrative details, which enabled us to concentrate on providing a good field experience for the intern. It is a great program that provides a lot of support and training to the student. It is a real plus that the students can be eligible for an AmeriCorps award to go towards their education.”

 


Corrie Nyquist – reflection on interning at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

 It was a beautiful warm June day and the little stream was running crystal clear along its winding, cobbled channel. Brook trout darted into the shadows offered by a low bank of tangled tree roots and watercress. Meanwhile, an airplane flew noisily overhead, and for a moment, the lush, green silence of the ravine was split by the roar of the engine.

 This is the uniquely urban setting of Ike’s Creek, a small trout stream on the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. I am privileged to be able to study this stream for my master’s degree in Entomology. During the last week if June, I was able to go out on the stream and officially begin my master’s project by placing temperature loggers. These loggers will stay out on the stream until April, documenting the seasonal temperature changes of the water, from the headwaters to the mouth.

The data from the temperature loggers will aid me in studying how the ground water inputs may buffer the stream’s water temperatures as the seasons change and allow for seasonal insect emergence. Placing the temperature loggers was a great step in my project. I have been planning the project and working with various partners on it since last March, so it is very exciting to see it starting to come together!

While most of the creek is on National Wildlife Refuge land, parts of it run through private property and land owned by the City of Bloomington. To begin studying this stream, I had to obtain permits from the city, private owners, and the refuge. It has been challenging and exciting to work with the different groups and see them come together on the common ground of wanting to know more about the stream. My work with the temperature loggers was also facilitated by the Minnesota DNR, which has historically collected data on the water temperatures and trout in the creek. Collaborating with the Minnesota DNR on this project has offered me the opportunity to work with another natural resource agency and broaden the scope of my study since I will also be able to participate in their annual Ike’s Creek trout survey.

Although my study has just been officially running for a month, there have been numerous opportunities for collaborative work at the local, regional, and federal level.  I am learning how to organize my work with the different partners and how to strategically plan data collection and sharing. So far, it is an exciting opportunity! Similar to the creek, it hasn’t always followed a straight course, but that has made the journey all the more engaging.

The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (P-21CSC) Applauds Bipartisan Introduction of New 21CSC Act in United States House and Senate

MEDIA CONTACT
Hannah Traverse
Communications Manager 
The Corps Network
202-737-6272  |  htraverse@corpsnetwork.org

June 22, 2017

A merger of the previously-introduced Public Lands Service Corps Act and 21CSC Act, the bill would advance the 21CSC’s goal of engaging 100,000 young adults and veterans in Corps through addressing backlogged maintenance and other mission-critical projects on America’s public lands and waters.

WASHINTON, DC – The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (P-21CSC) – a collective of federal, state, local and non-profit stakeholders that support the growth and development of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) –  applauds bipartisan introduction of a new 21CSC Act in the United States House of Representatives (H.R.2987) and Senate (S.1403) on June 21, 2017. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Tom Udall (D-NM). It was introduced in the House by Reps. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Scott Tipton (R-CO), and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ).

“In Arizona and across the country, young people are growing increasingly interested in service programs focused on bettering our national parks and public lands,” said Senator McCain. “However, while more people each year are applying for service opportunities, they are being turned away – even though our federal agencies need their help to complete a growing backlog of critical projects. Our legislation would solve this problem by creating more opportunities for young people and returning veterans to serve their community while spending no additional taxpayer dollars.”

“Arizona’s breathtaking scenic scopes are renown throughout the country and the world— but our state also has one of the largest backlogs in park maintenance projects,” said Congresswoman McSally (R-AZ). “This backlog is restricting access for Arizonans and tourists at our parks and public areas. This isn’t a problem that money alone can fix, we need to think innovatively and pragmatically to address this growing problem. My bipartisan bill leverages existing resources in a smarter way to get these projects moving. This would be a win for veterans, youth, local communities, and our national parks.”

The 21CSC is a national initiative to annually engage 100,000 young adults and veterans in outdoor work and national service opportunities – such as those offered through AmeriCorps – that address mission-critical maintenance and improvement projects on America’s public lands and waters. Currently, the more than 200 official 21CSC member organizations across the country annually enroll more than 25,000 participants in up to year-long terms of service, during which participants gain hands-on work experience, in-demand skills, and prepare for careers in the growing recreation, natural resource and restoration economies.

Through public-private partnerships among 21CSC programs, resource management agencies, and the private sector, the 21CSC builds rural and urban economies by engaging young adults and veterans in projects that increase access to public lands and enhance the natural resource infrastructure that supports our country’s $887 billion outdoor economy.

America’s main resource management agencies have a maintenance backlog totaling over $18.6 billion. By partnering with 21CSC programs, these agencies can further leverage their funding to cost-effectively engage Corps in building trails, fighting wildfires, maintaining productive fish and wildlife habitat and generally maintaining parks for public access. Along with completing projects, 21CSC also develops the next generation of outdoor stewards, recreationists, sportsmen and women, and resource managers. While gaining in-demand skills, Corpsmembers build respect and appreciation for our country, hard work, and the outdoors.

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

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

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

“The Partnership for the 21CSC is deeply grateful to Senators McCain, Bennet, and Udall, and Representatives McSally, Moulton and Grijalva, and all of the cosponsors of this legislation for collaborating to promote the vision of the 21CSC,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network and Chair of the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. “As this legislation merges two bills, we want to especially thank Rep. Grijalva for his longstanding support of Corps through promotion of the PLSC Act. The 21CSC is a win-win: our public lands agencies can address the maintenance backlog and meet their missions through cost-effective public-private partnerships; and young adults and returning veterans gain valuable, in-demand skills for the growing outdoor economy through work and national service opportunities. We look forward to working with the congressional offices involved to help see the 21CSC Act passed.”

The 21CSC initiative was launched as a partnership between America’s Corps and a number of federal agencies to promote the idea of a 21st-Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) to provide job training and to maintain and preserve public lands. The 21CSC is supported by the past five Secretaries of Interior (two republicans and three Democrats) and has received investments from private businesses like American Eagle Outfitters, The Coca-Cola Foundation, the REI Foundation, The North Face, the Campion Foundation, Camelbak, the Youth Outdoor Legacy fund, KEEN Utility and others. Current Secretary of Interior Zinke was a co-sponsor of the 21CSC Act when he was in Congress.

 

About the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps
The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) is a bipartisan, national initiative to leverage public-private relationships for cost-effective maintenance and improvement of America’s infrastructure, lands and waters. The 21CSC envisions partnerships between resource management agencies and Corps: organizations that engage America’s young adults and veterans in work-based national service projects that restore, conserve and enhance infrastructure and public lands and waters.

The 21CSC is an easy-to-implement solution to America’s aging infrastructure that also develops the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, recreationists, sportsmen and women, and resource managers. While gaining in-demand skills through their service, Corps participants also build respect and appreciation for our country, hard work, and the outdoors. To learn more about the 21CSC, please visit www.21csc.org.

 

About The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (P-21CSC)
The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (P-21CSC) supports the development and implementation of the 21CSC to reach its goal of engaging 100,000 young people and veterans per year in conservation service. The Partnership’s members include key federal, state, local and non-profit leaders and stakeholders of the 21CSC. To learn more about the P-21CSC, please visit 21csc.org/about-partnership/.

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.

 

Lamar Gore, 21CSC Champion of the Year Award – 2017

Lamar GoreLamar Gore is a 21CSC Champion of the Year for 2017.

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.


Q&A with Lamar Gore

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

Since childhood, I’ve had an interest/fear in the natural world, which sounds odd. There was the desire to discover, but fear to touch.  I had some key areas that sparked me including an uncle who was a fisherman and a 7th grade science teacher who introduced me to fly fishing.  A trip he took our class to, in which we stayed in cabins for a week in Stokes State Forest was the trip that lit the torch for me.  As a Freshman in college, I stumbled onto the USFWS with a program called the Career Awareness Institute, based in Tennessee, and it was this program that launched me into the fisheries program as a Cooperative education program student.  The opportunities and challenges were rewarding along the way, and I wouldn’t change a bit of it.

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

I look at this partnership as an opportunity to give back to our target communities. You can engage youth in conservation careers and teach important work skills to those youth.  It’s difficult to understand the full value of this type of programming until you realize even one of those youth sinking their teeth into a career in the conservation field and becoming a leader.

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

Expectations range from a member network that can recruit and manage the administrative function of interns assigned to your site. The ability to recruit in target communities, and vetted candidates.

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

There is a lot of knowledge and experience in partners who have worked with Corps Network member organizations, so talking with us can shed a great deal of light on the benefits, however, you can also visit the networks webpage to fill in the gaps.

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

I would first say that as you enter the program, empty your cup and let your supervisors and mentors refill it. They will prepare you for a road to success.  Second, make your first, middle, and last impression count with those you work with and for.  Those impressions can and often do follow you around.  Be sure to network with the agencies you work for and do not be afraid to try things outside your comfort zone, as it’s in those places that you will be sure to grow and learn.

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

For me being a part of youth engagement on public lands is about land stewardship. The conservation world has been fighting a losing battle for years, because we have not put enough emphasis on both youth and community engagement on and off public lands, making a connection between each.  The ambassadors developed by engaging people on and off public lands are invaluable to the youth, the community, and the public agency.

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

I expect to see service and partnerships increasing, but the work of communicating through our youth will be of the utmost importance. Youth communicating with you and community communicating with community are often more effective than “Joe Blow conservation” communicating with youth or community.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, but I believe we need a stronger impact.

Joni Packard, 21CSC Champion of the Year – 2017

JoniPackardPhoto

Joni Packard is a 21CSC Champion of the Year for 2017. 

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.


Q&A with Joni Packard

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

I’ve had a long time interest in conservation and preservation issues since I was a junior high school student, back in the early 1970s.  Along with the environmental issues and activism that were a key part of that era, we had a family cabin in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State that was instrumental in creating my love for the outdoors.  Rachel Carson was one of my early heroes, not so much for her book “Silent Spring” but more for her book “A Sense of Wonder,” which found the beauty in nature and the “little things” as well as introducing one to the broader connections between living systems.  In the mid-1970s, I was selected as a Youth Conservation Corps enrollee, right after the program was permanently authorized.  YCC “started the spark” where I saw and realized I could turn my love for the natural world and connecting people to it, into a potential career in natural resources.  Conservation and caring for this planet – and caring for people — has been a calling ever since!

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

The advice I would offer is look at these programs as a way to introduce young people to not only an agency’s and non-profit’s missions, but also as way to introduce young people to the skills, strengths, and leadership potential they have in themselves.  These young folks – no matter what generation – are incredibly capable, passionate and caring – look at them not only as a way to help get needed work done, but as new stewards working shoulder to shoulder with us all right now.  Create an array of experiences that will not only introduce them to conservation projects but also the stories, the connections, and a land and community ethic that will inspire their own future stewardship, no matter what career opportunities (public or private sector) they might pursue.

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

When partnering with a 21CSC program, there’s always going to be some bumps along the way and some unexpected issues.  Create timelines that allow flexibility if you can, have back-up plans when staffing issues happen, budgets are late, projects change or get done early, or emergencies (such as fire or floods) occur.  Cost effectiveness and being value added is important for everyone – think about how to partner creatively to leverage resources. Talk about and develop shared outcomes. Stay engaged with each other.  Be willing to experiment with new programming and partners (and/or new combinations of partners) to stay contemporary.  Realize sometimes a partnership may not be a fit in some scenarios yet it doesn’t mean that a great partnership can’t still occur in others – it’s ok to adjust.  Be thinking how to stay be ahead of the game in terms of demographic, cultural, and technological shifts.  Be creative.  Value traditions and new ideas – there will be different “cultures” within organizations (both public and private sectors) to work with.  Understand each other’s processes, mission and goals.  And…share a few laughs, some homemade cookies and get out on the ground together – see, value and acknowledge the great work everyone – 21CSC partners, crews, interns, and agency staff — are doing!

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

People can turn to The Corps Network and its’ website; visit directly with The Corps Network’s member organizations; and visit with agencies (such as Regional Volunteer and Service contacts) working with 21CSC partners.

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

The advice I offer is think about what most interests you, what you really love and would like to do, then visit with as many resource professionals as you can to learn about the potential career opportunities that might be out there, and what different jobs entail.  “Taste test” different types of jobs, through either 21CSC service programs, volunteering and/or paid positions.  You might think you would really love to be a wildlife biologist yet when you are actually doing data collection, it’s not quite a fit –but you then find you do love the larger context of resource management issues that tie into wildlife conservation issues.  If a job in the federal, state or tribal government is of interest, check out what kinds of qualifications are needed to apply for those types of positions – check out the academic requirements as well as the experience requirements.  That way, when you are still in school, you can take any additional courses or get the credit hours necessary to ensure you meet the qualifications.  Stay engaged by networking through student and professional associations.  Stay connected with resource people you may have met, who can also keep an ear out for potential job openings.  Let people know what you are looking for.  Ask for help regarding resumes and applications (Even though a good system, USAJOBS can be confusing!).  Realize that you likely won’t find the “perfect” job the first time you apply – and don’t give up – keep applying/looking for jobs and concurrently keep building your resume with relevant jobs/experiences (even temporary jobs or volunteer work) that show your interest – and show your staying power.  If a federal position is where a young person wants to go, I encourage folks to apply for any job they can that they qualify for – even if it’s not the “dream job” – yet.  Getting that first foot in the door – and really, for any organization – is the hardest.  Once you are “in,” even if it’s not the “dream” job you want, work hard, work well with others, and keep adding to your skill sets and resume – that will help get you to the “next” step in your career. And do be sure to stay at least a little while… it’s a huge investment by an organization (whether public or private sector) to bring someone on, so be that “someone” that an organization or supervisor can give a glowing recommendation about, when you are ready to look for that “next job.”

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

What drives me is that I believe in the future, that it is good, and that each generation is what makes up that good.  Engaging youth on public lands is not only about creating future public land stewards, it’s also about creating connections – to themselves, to each other, to deeper understandings about different cultures, values, perspectives communities, and our natural systems – that will help create a better world for all.  The pride that comes from a job well done, the self-esteem that happens when you can see how strong and capable you are, the camaraderie and friendships that can last a lifetime, the sense of stewardship and caring and being able to pass that along so that your kids will be able to enjoy public lands just as much as you have been able to do – all this and more is, for me, what youth engagement on public lands and waters is about.


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

I see the future of Service and Conservation Corps as a way to help connect our young people to not only their public land heritage and employment opportunities, but also as a way to help them create a more positive future.  Service, any kind of service, is a way for people to give back, to find out about themselves, about other people, about connections to communities and the larger world.  When we experience and work with other people, we get to know them as just regular folks, with similar dreams, hopes, fears and desires.  It doesn’t matter if you are an urban youth working with a youth from a rural area or a Reservation, if you are black, white, or brown, male or female, young or old, straight or gay, from different religious, cultural, ethnic or racial backgrounds, “conservative” or “liberal”… when we can begin to work together on simple things like trail building, cooking dinner together after a hard day’s work, helping a crew member hoist a heavy pack, or making sure everyone’s ok on a long slog in to a remote backcountry work site, the “differences” can melt away and folks become friends, perspectives can change, and people realize they really can work together to make a difference.  Through Service and Conservation Corps and Agency partners, there is the practical part of gaining work skills, getting work done on the ground, and understanding agency missions and conservation work.  There is also the opportunity to become a “new bridge,” by helping create much needed connections and kinder understandings between us all.

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
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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

 

21 CSC Champions of the Year – 2017

It is our great pleasure to announce the 21CSC Champions of the Year for 2017

Learn more about the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award

Read about the 2017 Finalists


National Distinction Awardees

Merlene Mazyck
merlene-mazyckU.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
gmcdonald_3National 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
dr-calvert-curleyBureau 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
Joni PackardU.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
Executive staff photo DRP 2008,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.

 

21CSC Alum Introduces President Obama at 2016 National Christmas Tree Lighting

Dylan Carrejo, an AmeriCorps alum from Texas Conservation Corps, introduces President Obama at the 2016 National Christmas Tree Lighting

Dylan Carrejo, an AmeriCorps alum from Texas Conservation Corps, introduces President Obama at the 2016 National Christmas Tree Lighting

Dylan Carrejo and David Vacianna – both AmeriCorps alumni of 21st Century Conservation Service Corps programs – were the special guests of Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell at President Obama’s final National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on December 1st. Carrejo served with Texas Conservation Corps at American YouthWorks, while Vacianna served with Northwest Youth Corps in Oregon.

Carrejo also had the honor of introducing President Obama’s speech at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Read this blog from The Corps Network on Huffingtonpost.com to learn more about the event and the significance of the inclusion of Corps in one of the final public events of the Obama administration. 

The lighting ceremony was aired on the Hallmark Channel on Monday, Dec. 5th. Highlights of the event can be seen here.


Published 12/5/16

Who’s Introducing the President at the National Christmas Tree Lighting?

Later today, Americans can tune in to watch the Obama family’s eighth and final National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. The annual ceremony, which took place last week on The Ellipse – a National Park Service property just south of the White House, is a tradition stretching back 94 years to President Calvin Coolidge.

As in past years, viewers can expect the president to conclude the evening with a speech about the meaning of the holiday season. But who will introduce his speech?

Read more 

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Dylan Carrejo of Texas Conservation Corps and David Vacianna of Northwest Youth Corps. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in the background.

National Christmas Tree Lighting 2016. From right to left: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell; David Vacianna, a 21CSC alumni from Northwest Youth Corps; Dylan Carrejo; Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service; Parc Smith, CEO of American YouthWorks.

National Christmas Tree Lighting 2016. From right to left: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell; David Vacianna, a 21CSC alumni from Northwest Youth Corps; Dylan Carrejo; Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service; Parc Smith, CEO of American YouthWorks.