21st Century Conservation Service Corps Federal Advisory Committee Meets for 1st Time


On February 9th and 10th, leaders from federal land management agencies, The Corps Network, and other organizations that serve youth met over 2 days for the first official meeting of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Federal Advisory Committee (FACA).

The FACA has been tasked with creating guidelines and recommendations for how to scale up and implement a nationally recognized Corps that shares the scope and ideals of the historic Civilian Conservation Corps. As federal funding shrinks across the board, ideas and methods for addressing this mission will need to incorporate bottom-up ideas, as well as a strong foundation of public-private partnerships.

Harry Bruell, CEO of Southwest Conservation Corps, has been designated as chair of the Committee. He is joined on the FACA by several other Corps Directors who are serving as both primary committee members, and as alternates. They include

• Laura Herrin, The Student Conservation Association

• David Muraki, California Conservation Corps

• Jennifer Freeman, Colorado Youth Corps Association

• Jeff Parker, Northwest Youth Corps

• Len Price, Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa

• Parc Smith, American YouthWorks

• Scott Weaver, The Student Conservation Association

Mary Ellen Ardouny, Vice President for External Affairs at The Corps Network, is also a primary member of the Committee. A full list of Committee members can be found here.

On the first day of the meeting, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar joined the newly formed Committee to express his support and a sense of urgency for the Committee to complete its report and recommendations by July (the urgency is real, as the FACA has been authorized for a total of 2 years). Salazar noted that creating opportunities for youth has been one of his biggest priorities as Secretary and as part of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative and its public hearing sessions. He also provided a juicy morsel of gossip by suggesting that the President might designate a new National Park Service site focused on the Civilian Conservation Corps in the upcoming year. He did not elaborate in an greater detail, however, about this exciting prospect. 

Secretary Salazar's commitment was reinforced by two of Salazar's closest peers, who also attended the first day of the meeting and spoke: Harris Sherman, Under Secretary of Natural Resources & the Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and William Shafroth, Special Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

The first day of the FACA meeting also included introductions of each Committee Member and an in-depth explanation of ethical considerations for FACA members to understand as they move forward in their work.

The 2nd day of the FACA meeting quickly got down to the business of allowing Committee members to more throughly discuss their perspectives about what a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps "would look like" and begin to agree to some basic parameters and assumptions under which the FACA would begin its deliberations (e.g. the age range of Corpsmembers, the locations of demonstration projects, how experiences would be tied to careers, and so forth). Next, a discussion about "subcommittees" took place. The subcommittees of the FACA will explore 4 key topics in depth over the coming months, and will then present their recommendations to the full committee. Committee members and alternates were able to choose which committees on which they would like to serve. The subcommittees will grapple with these key topics:

1. A general framework for the 21st CSC, including its scope, size, and programmatic elements.

2. Certification processes that Corps must undertake to be considered for participation in the 21st CSC.

3. Funding and partnerships that will be essential for helping the 21st CSC take root.

4. Ensuring and facilitating career pathways for Corpsmembers through the 21st CSC.

The FACA Committee members recognized that this was one of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- opportunity that Service and Conservation Corps have had to date to capture the public imagination, improve the lives of millions of young people, and promote environmental stewardship nationwide. As work gets underway, your help in promoting this effort and its value to Americans will be appreciated.

The next official FACA meeting will take place from March 27-29th in San Francisco, California.