Tag Archives: Veterans Conservation Corps

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Veterans in the 21CSC: Ryan Shepard – California Conservation Corps

Ryan Shepherd was born in Indiana in 1986. He lived there until he was 10 years old, at which point his family moved to Colorado for five years, and then finally settled in Arizona in 2004.

Ryan’s mother raised him and his younger brother by herself.

During his high school years, Ryan was very active in athletics, participating in football, wrestling, track and field, and cross-country running. His mother encouraged him to be involved in extracurricular activities beyond just sports, so Ryan also served as a member of the student council, and participated in his school’s Future Business Leaders of America program. Ryan’s mother instilled in him the desire to be part of something larger and more important than just himself, to always help others, to try his best at whatever he did, and – most importantly – to never give up on anything he tried out to accomplish.

Shortly after moving to Arizona in 2004, Ryan Joined the United States Marine Corps and became an Aviation Ordinance Technician. During his service, Ryan was deployed to Iraq five times and visited 15 different countries. He received an honorable discharge from the Marines in 2008.

Ryan explained that his time in the Marines helped him realize just how blessed we are as Americans. Other countries around the world do not enjoy the same freedoms or access to food and resources. In particular, Ryan stated that it was difficult to see young children in other countries not only living in harsh poverty, but just living to survive another day amidst war and violence. Ryan has learned to appreciate the simple things in life that most of us take for granted.

After leaving the Marines, Ryan made the decision to enroll in the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. Ryan graduated with honors, maintaining a 3.93 GPA in 2011, and was immediately offered a job at a Harley Davidson dealership in New Mexico. Ryan accepted the position, believing he was on the path to his dream career. However, after a few short months as a motorcycle mechanic, Ryan realized that he could never make very much money as a motorcycle mechanic. He took a managerial job at Domino’s Pizza in New Mexico, later transferring to a Domino’s Pizza in Arizona so he could live with his brother.

While visiting his mother in San Diego in 2012, Ryan looked for local jobs on Craig’s List. He ended up contacting a California Conservation Corps (CCC) recruiter to inquire about what had appeared to be a government position that didn’t require an entrance exam. The next thing Ryan knew he was in Corpsmember training with several other veterans, having flashbacks of his time in the Marines. After training, Ryan was assigned to the San Diego’s North County Satellite.

While serving as an AmeriCorps member in the CCC, Ryan completed a 40-hour wildland firefighter training; wildreness first aid and CPR training; food handlers training; leadership training; and S-212 chainsaw training. He was twice offered seasonal firefighter positions with the U.S. Forest Service, but he turned them down for personal health reasons. Ryan went on to become a CCC intern with CAL-TRANS for seven months, during which time he was promoted to Crewleader and joined the Corpsmember Advisory Board. Ryan took special interest in sharing his knowledge of small engine repair with his fellow Corpsmembers and CCC staff. He often stayed after work to repair CCC power tools and teach others. He always displayed the compassion, instilled by his mother, to help others.

Despite doing well on the Conservationist One exam, Ryan accepted a permanent position with one of the California Conservation Corps’ project sponsors, River Partners, as the Southern California Regional Lead Foreman in August 2015. The position pays prevailing wage ($15.00 hr to start) and came with a company truck for him to commute to and from various job sites. The position allows Ryan to continue to work with CCC Corpsmembers as a Technical Advisor for crews. Further, it allows Ryan to continue in a career that he is passionate about, where he can continue to teach Corpsmembers and help them develop the skills and mind set they need to be successful in both the CCC and in life.

Ryan hopes to return to the CCC one day as a Conservationist One, but he feels that until the right position is offered to him he is content to finally be in a career where he can make a difference in protecting the environment and encouraging today’s youth. To that end, Ryan has become a part of something much larger than himself; he makes a difference and has made himself and his mother very proud.

Veterans in the 21CSC: Joshua “Mitch” Shannon – Southwest Conservation Corps

Mitch

From Southwest Conservation Corps

After graduating from high school in Northern Illinois, Mitch decided to join the United States Marine Corps. He feels fortunate to have been deployed 11 times – eight of which were combat deployments – to a variety of places, including Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa. During his time in the Marines, Mitch worked with four different infantry units and gained a great deal of experience. However, when he completed his service in 2012 and began looking for a civilian job, Mitch discovered that there were few careers where he could apply the skills he learned as an infantryman.

During his time in the military, Mitch got married and had two kids. Completing his service allowed him and his family to move to Alabama to give his kids the opportunity to get to know more of their relatives. Mitch was pursuing a degree in nursing when a friend told him about Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) and its AmeriCorps-based Veterans Fire Corps program. As his friend explained, the Corps would give Mitch the opportunity to learn about wildfires and get involved in careers in the outdoors. Mitch decided to apply and started with SCC in spring of 2015 along with the friend that had introduced the idea.

Mitch feels that SCC taught him a lot about wildland fire, conservation and living and working in the outdoors. Though he wasn’t completely sold on being in wildland fire as a long-term career, the Veterans Fire Corps program gave him some of the hard skills needed to be valuable for positions with federal land management agencies. His time with SCC also gave Mitch the opportunity to network with supervisors that work within the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Mitch isn’t certain about he wants to do after the Corps, but he knows he wants to continue working outdoors and eventually be able to find a permanent position with a land management agency somewhere in Colorado, where he and his family currently live.

Veterans in the 21CSC: Chandler Goering – Arizona Conservation Corps

DSCF2084(Chandler pictured front row, right)

 

From Arizona Conservation Corps

When Chandler Goering moved to Arizona, he knew he wanted to get into wildland firefighting. After serving in the Army National Guard, including two years of active duty as an Infantry Sergeant in Iraq and Kuwait, he earned a degree in fire science and started applying for jobs. When he couldn’t find the sort of job opportunity he was looking for, a recruiter told him about the Veteran Fire Corps program with the Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC), explaining that it was a good way to get a foot in the door and gain practical skills.

Chandler will complete his six-month AmeriCorps term on November 11th. He will have spent a season working on a fuels mitigation crew for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on three districts in Arizona, put in hundreds of hours running a chainsaw in the process, and completed coursework for all Firefighter I & II certifications. When the program ends, Chandler will return home to Minnesota for the winter where he has accepted an EMT position. He plans to spend this time applying for wildland firefighting jobs for the 2016 season.

The practical skills Chandler gained aren’t the only valuable aspect of his AmeriCorps experience. When asked what he’ll remember most about his time with Arizona Conservation Corps, Chandler talks about people: being part of a crew, being more sociable, and interacting with project managers and fire personnel within the BLM. He learned about different career opportunities and how to be more successful applying for positions. Chandler also made connections with public lands management employees who offered to refer him to hiring managers and put in a good word.

Nearly all alumni who have applied for firefighter positions after exiting the Veteran Fire Corps program have succeeded in landing a position. Considering Chandler’s positive attitude and drive, we’re expecting that he will be on a wildfire crew next summer.

 

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.”