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Veterans in the 21CSC : Zachary Dancy – Southwest Conservation Corps


Crew Leader, Veteran Fire Corps, Southwest Conservation Corps, Durango, CO

Before joining the Army National Guard, Zach worked as a Licensed Practitioner Nurse at a Specialty practice in western Colorado for four years. He found this experience to be very rewarding, but also very challenging with long days and nights; burnout was a big reality. Looking for something different, but still in the medical field, he joined the National Guard. After preliminary screening it was determined that he would be fit to work as a medic (MOS 68W), and he quickly jumped on the opportunity.

Zach shipped out to basic training at Ft. Jackson, SC, and then to occupational training at Fot. Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX. Shortly after finishing all of his training he was unexpectedly deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan for a year where he worked in the 947th Engineering Unit from Colorado. After his deployment he returned stateside and was active until spring 2015 when he took his current position as a Crew Leader for the AmeriCorps-based Veterans Fire Corps Program at Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC).

Before becoming a Crew Leader with SCC, Zach was involved with the Veterans Fire Corps program through Arizona Conservation Corps in Tuscon. There he came to really enjoy the work, as well as the people he got to work with. Every day he is excited to go out into the field and help others progress and succeed in the Veterans Fire Corps program. Though fire has become a lingering interest for Zach, for now he wants to stay involved in VFC programs for the foreseeable future.


Veterans in the 21CSC : Great Basin Institute – Nevada Conservation Corps

Veterans Conservation Corps (NCA)















Veterans Conservation Corps Begins Works in Nevada’s Sloan Canyon NCA

On September 26th in Henderson, NV, five AmeriCorps members with Nevada Conservation Corps’ Veterans Conservation Corps program were joined by community volunteers, Congresswoman Dina Titus, Councilwoman Debra March, NV Energy Vice President for Government and Community Relations Judy Stokey and representatives from partnering organizations to launch the “From Military Service to Green Service” partnership at Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area. The event was covered by KTNV Channel 13 News.

One of the veterans, Ryan Richards of Reno, NV, left the Marine Corps after four years of service and decided to become involved with environmental service through Nevada Conservation Corps’ Veterans program. The program provides young military veterans opportunities to work outdoors building trails, improving habitats and protecting Native American cultural resources at Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area.

“This is a great opportunity for newly separated military veterans to gain work experience and training in a new career field,” said Richards. “I am happy and thankful for all of the participating organizations that are sponsoring this partnership.”

The partnership is supported by NV Energy Foundation, which provided the Conservation Lands Foundation a $75,000 grant in support of the Veterans Conservation Corps. Additional partners include the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), City of Henderson, Nevada Conservation Corps, and volunteers with Friends of Sloan Canyon. The veterans are also AmeriCorps members and will receive AmeriCorps Education Awards at the completion of their terms of service.

“Our support of the Veterans Conservation Corps is an extension of our commitment to honor the men and women who have served our country,” said Paul Caudill, NV Energy President and Chief Executive Officer. Caudill is also Chair of the NV Energy Foundation. “Not only will this program provide employment to local veterans, it will make a positive lasting impact on Sloan Canyon and the benefits it provides to the local community.”

Veterans in the 21CSC: Kris Pedings – Southwest Conservation Corps



From Southwest Conservation Corps, Durango, CO

As a kid, Kris remembers wanting to be a soldier, or a cowboy or a firefighter; always wanting to do something challenging and rewarding. He worked construction for a number of years in order to put himself through school in criminal justice. After finishing school he took time to see the world by serving in the Peace Corps in an agricultural program in Ecuador, and teaching English in China for several months. After returning to the United States, Kris started looking into the military and wanted to try his hand at the Special Forces; he felt drawn to how elite it felt, and how hard it would be to become successful. After more than a year of strenuous training, he was placed as a Special Forces engineer Sergeant with the 5th group at Fort Campbell, KY.

After three years and a couple of deployments, things started to slow down and deployments started to get cancelled. This led him start thinking about a career with a Hotshot Fire crew or as a Smokejumper, someone who parachutes into a remote region to fight wildfires. Kris started contacting supervisors to get some insight. During this time, Kris worked on getting all of the necessary certifications to serve on a fire crew, but he found it difficult to finalize many of the certifications without the required field days. His search led him to phone calls with a couple of Fire Management Officers who highly recommended the Veterans Fire Corps (VFC) program, an AmeriCorps program of Southwest Conservation Corps.

Kris ended up applying to the VFC program and started just two days after getting his terminal leave and finishing up with the military. He found the VFC program to be just what he needed to pursue a career in wildland firefighting. The certifications, work experience and networking would help set him up for success within the federal land management agencies. Kris is currently sending out resumes to several Hotshot crews that are stationed with Smokejumping units. He is about to start a month-long Emergency Medical Technician course that will prepare him even further for a job in wildland firefighting.

U.S. Forest Service AmeriCorps Partnership Supports 21st Century Conservation Service Corps


Originally published on nationalservice.gov

For decades, national service has been a cost-effective solution to critical challenges facing our communities and nation. Recognizing the value of national service in improving lives and strengthening communities, President Obama created the Task Force on Expanding National Service in July 2013 to expand national service to meet national needs through collaboration with other Federal agencies and the private sector.

In July 2014, USDA and CNCS announced a landmark new partnership between AmeriCorps and the USDA’s Forest Service that connects youth and veterans with service opportunities to restore the nation’s forests and grasslands. The $3.8 million in joint funding will provide resources for both AmeriCorps grantees and member organizations of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), and will also provide for 300 new AmeriCorps members serving in U.S. forests and grasslands.

AmeriCorps is part of a long American tradition of conservation service that dates back to the Civilian Conservation Corps and builds on the large network of state and local conservation corps that have emerged over the past four decades.

Through the President’s Task Force on Expanding National Service, CNCS is working with USDA and other federal agencies and nonprofit partners to create a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, a national collaborative effort to put America’s youth and returning veterans to work protecting, restoring and enhancing America’s great outdoors.

Through this new partnership, AmeriCorps members and other youth will restore the nation’s forests and grasslands, meeting critical environmental needs as they gain valuable skills and college support to jumpstart their careers.