Tag Archives: Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa

Faces of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps: Gaby Gerken of Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa

Gaby Gerken

This summer we plan to highlight several of the participants in the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC). Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa is a 21CSC program operator. To view all Faces of the 21CSC stories, please click here.  

The following story was written by Gaby Gerken and was originally posted on the Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa website.

During my time with Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa we have worked entirely with plants. We’ve cut buckthorn and cleared firebreaks, planted natives and picked weeds. It’s been great learning to identify things we haven’t seen or heard of before but one thing we have all been missing is wildlife.

That said, we have recently had the opportunity to rescue some animals! First there was the turtle incident at our work site next to a few lakes. Between the roar of the semi trucks we managed to save three painted turtles that were attempting to cross the road. Would they have made it on their own? Probably, but there is always the chance that they could have been accidentally (or intentionally…) run over and, trust me, seeing a crushed turtle could make you cry. Always break for the turtles and, if it’s safe, try stopping to help them across quick!

The second incident came when I found a monarch caterpillar. I’ve become a bit obsessed with saving them this year and I definitely have the Corps to thank for that. Months ago we stumbled upon a plant that we identified as milkweed. Technically it is a weed and does not belong in the rain gardens we were maintaining, but according to the invasive species handbooks we should take measures to leave it when possible. Across the U.S. monarchs are dying, probably the result of habitat loss due to urban sprawl and pesticides. Therefore, when we see milkweed we leave it.

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Youth protect public lands along St. Croix National Scenic Riverway as part of 21st Century Conservation Service Corps

Conservation Corps youth take a break after a day of pulling buckthorn on National Park Service lands along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, east of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Editor’s Note: This week Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis visited St. Paul Minnesota to sign an agreement with the National League of Cities and the YMCA to better coordinate efforts to get kids outdoors, as part of the Secretary’s youth initiative. This week we will highlight the additional efforts of an organization supporting the Secretary’s goals for her initiative in the Twin Cities area through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.

This summer, youth will play in vital role in helping to protect biodiversity and improve visitors’ experience along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The St. Croix River, with its proximity to the Twin Cities metropolitan area and federal designation as a Wild and Scenic River, is a popular outdoor recreation area for paddling, hiking, biking and birdwatching. Participants, ages 15-18, and young adult AmeriCorps members will work in crews of eight, along shoreline and public lands in this national park to remove invasive buckthorn and purple loosestrife that destroy native vegetation and critical habitat. Corpsmembers will also be involved with identifying and mapping threatened areas.

The St. Croix projects will engage a total of 60 diverse youth participants from Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa, a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps program operator, in partnership with the National Park Service. The projects will be completed over eight weeks of the 2014 the Summer Youth Corps program.

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