An Interview with Dwight Washabaugh, a 2016 Corps Legacy Achievement Award Winner

Dwight Washabaugh of Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps was selected as a 2016 Corps Legacy Achivement Award Winner. We interviewed Dwight to learn more about him and his experience in the Corps movement. Click here to read Dwight's bio. 

How did you become involved in Service and Conservation Corps?  What were you doing before?

For 20 plus years prior to being involved with Service and Conservation Corps, I had been the Controller, Director of Development and Executive Director for a faith based organization. Next I did independent consulting for nonprofit organization for 3+ years facilitating strategic planning, consulting related to data management and serving as a contract administrator for a nonprofit organization.

While it is unheard of in today’s world, I was reviewing the job classified ads in two northern California newspapers and found the Sacramento Regional (Local at that time) Conservation Corps was seeking an Executive Director.  The combination of working with youth and the environment peeked my interest and I applied; and thirty days later I was offered the position and began a steep learning curve with a wonderful 21+ year career until I retired March 31, 2015.


Who are some of your heroes?  What did they do to inspire you?

Two groups:

  • Historical

Jesus – Inspired by his teachings and his actions.

Abraham Lincoln – Inspired by his leadership skills and determined focus.

  • Personal

A.     Business man and board member in my first nonprofit experience who when he graduated with his MBA from Harvard, his goal was to be president over the years of 10 different companies.  He has accomplished that goal.  I was inspired by his combined focus of the mission of the organization and the bottom line to create a successful organization and program.

B.     Ira Okun and Bruce Saito within the Corps movement:  I was inspired by both men as they helped me with the steep learning curve of directing a Corps and building relationships with government leaders.


Describe some of your most memorable experiences working with Corps programs.

My most memorable experiences occurred between me and the corpsmembers.  Topping the list were the opportunities to hear their stories about how they grew and were successful during their participation in the Corps program.  These experiences were much greater than the mere statistical accomplishments.  Their successes brought deep convictions of change in their lives, which also brought a richness to our community and to my personal experience.


Given your experience, what is the primary piece of wisdom you could provide to Corpsmembers?

I would share with corpsmembers the importance of letting go of the past and to focus on the opportunities they can achieve going forward. Be proud of who you are and strive to do your very best in every endeavor.  Begin by investing the time in the Corps program and   opportunities that are available to you, and participate fully.  Be honest with yourself and others.


What is the primary piece of wisdom you would provide to staff at Corps?

Work as a team to provide a strong, viable and meaningful program that supports, encourages and challenges each corpsmember participant.  Demonstrate to the Corpsmembers that each staff member cares.  Each staff member must “model” him/herself in his/herself day-to-day actions as a professional, caring person and leader.  Actions speak louder than words.


In the future, what developments would you like to see happen in the Corps movement?

The Corps movement today and the original Civilian Conservation Corps of the Depression era is a well kept public secret.  I would like to see a comprehensive ongoing National marketing plan using television, bill boards, newspapers and social media that spreads the word about Service and Conservation Corps and the multiple benefits to every community.

Secondly, I would like to see federal funding, similar to that of Job Corps for Service and Conservation Corps that would compliment State and local funded work training and service projects.


What do you hope your legacy will be?

My hope is that my legacy has built a strong foundation for the continued growth of the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps as a significant part of the community fabric serving young men and women in the region with training and education while providing a meaningful workforce for important urban conservation and environmental needs.


Dan Knapp Named New Executive Director of Conservation Corps of Long Beach

For Immediate Release

Date: December 15, 2015


Mike Bassett, Executive Director/CEO
Conservation Corps of Long Beach
340 Nieto Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90814
(562) 986-1249


Conservation Corps of Long Beach and Conservation Corps of Long Beach Gateway Cities Charter School Announces New Executive Director

The Selection Committee of the Conservation Corps of Long Beach and the Board of Directors of the Conservation Corps of Long Beach Gateway Cities Charter School are proud to announce the selection of Mr. Dan Knapp as the new Executive Director for the Conservation Corps of Long Beach and the Conservation Corps of Long Beach Gateway Charter School, succeeding Mr. Mike Bassett. Mr. Knapp will begin his duties February 1, 2016. Mike Bassett will be retiring in February, 2016 after serving as Executive Director for over 24 years. The selection was made after a nationwide search and selection process.

Dan Knapp’s resume includes over 19 years’ experience in the non-profit sector with extensive knowledge in project and business development, grant writing and agency advocacy. He comes to the Conservation Corps of Long Beach/ Conservation Corps of Long Beach Gateway Cities Charter School after serving as Deputy Director for the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, the largest non-profit Conservation Corps in the nation. Dan is a graduate of California State University Long Beach and has served as a dedicated member of several local boards and groups including the California Center for Economic Initiatives, Southern California Mountains Foundation (Finance Committee Chair) and the Conservation Corps State Museum.

"As an ardent believer in the conservation corps model as a means for youth and community development, I’m honored and look forward to serving the greater Long Beach region as the new CEO of the Conservation Corps of Long Beach,” remarks Dan Knapp.  “I’m thrilled to join the CCLB team and excited to meet and work with the young people we serve!"

The Conservation Corps of Long Beach was established by a group of concerned business owners, local community leaders and citizens in 1987. The Corps has been serving young people 18-25 for the last 28 years, providing paid work experience and educational opportunities. In 2014, the Conservation Corps of Long Beach opened its own Charter School, the Conservation Corps of Long Beach Gateway Cities Charter School that serves 18-25 year olds looking to complete their high school diploma. For more information, contact Mike Bassett, Executive Director/CEO at (562) 986-1249.

New Policies Create Opportunities for Waders in the Water-trained Youth

Submitted by Luke Frazza
Trout Headwaters, Inc.

New Waters in the Water students can now take advantage of a revised syllabus, a new edition training manual, and numerous EcoBlu Analyst platform updates. All these improvements coincide with the just announced federal conservation policies by the White House, and immediately echoed by the Dept. of Interior, that will create many new opportunities for Waders in the Water certified Conservation Corpsmembers.

These new directives mandate federal agencies to give preference to advance compensation mechanisms like mitigation banks to offset unavoidable environmental impacts from new development, infrastructure, and energy exploration.

Michael Sprague, Trout Headwaters CEO and Waders in the Water instructor, consulted with DOI, USFWS, and BLM for several years before issuance of these new directives. The new policies incorporate many of the principles of compensatory mitigation outlined in the National Mitigation Banking Association's Universal Principles of Compensatory Mitigation report released in July of 2015 which Sprague co-authored.

Let your Corpsmembers train with those who truly understand the restoration economy.   Register Here Now!

The restoration community is ramping-up in response, and increasing investments in conservation projects on private and public lands, adding to the already rapidly expanding U.S. restoration industry that now creates more than 120,000 jobs and nearly $10B in direct economic activity every year.

In response to the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps' (21CSC) effort to put young people and veterans to work nationwide, the Waders in the Water green jobs training and certification was specifically designed under a public-private partnership between The Corps Network and Trout Headwaters, Inc.

Waders in the Water:

  • introduces students to sustainable aquatic restoration techniques by teaching them how to improve the climate-resiliency of our streams, rivers, and wetlands
  • offers them an opportunity to earn an industry-recognized credential
  • is the only private restoration industry-recognized program for the installation of aquatic restoration projects
  • inspires participants to become the next generation of stewards of our natural and cultural resources

According to Adam Davis, Partner and Director of Research, Policy, & New Markets for Ecosystem Investment Partners in San Rafael, California:

"A highly-trained Youth Corps workforce will be a powerful tool for the restoration economy. There is certainly no shortage of work to be done." 

And Michael Gaffney of the White Mountain Youth Corps remarked:

"I think the training/certification gives our partners and potential partners more confidence that we're serious about restoration work and that we can be a trusted source for their restoration implementation plans." 

The Restoration Economy is calling. Register Here for an upcoming Waders in the Water class

The next two-day training takes place:       

  • Thurs. Dec. 17, 2015 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EST
  • Fri.      Dec. 18, 2015 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EST

This Training meets 2 times. Attendees are expected to attend both sessions.

Class size is limited so Register Here Today!

Contact Luke Frazza with any questions


Photos of the Month: November 2015

Wildfire Funding Critical to Protect and Defend America's Natural Resources

California Conservation Corps


Originally published by Nation of Change - 11/19/15

Wildfires are raging in many states around the U.S. This year, over 8.8 million acres burned by mid-September, nearing the number of acres burned during the same timeframe in 2006, one of the worst wildfire seasons on record. 2015 is poised to meet and even surpass that record.

Fighting wildfires is both difficult and expensive. The U.S. Forest Service alone spent over $1.1 billion on fire suppression in 2014. While federal land management agencies expect to spend a certain percentage of their annual budgets on firefighting, that percentage continues to increase as wildfire seasons grow longer.

Due to the effects of climate change, fire seasons are on average 78 days longer than they were in the ‘70s. In 2015, the Forest Service expects to spend 52 per­cent of its budget on fire suppression. In comparison, 16 percent of the budget went to fire suppression in 1995. A new report estimates that nearly 70 percent of the Forest Service’s budget will be devoted to fire suppression by 2025. Wildfires are causing more damage than ever before, yet budgets are not keeping pace.

The current funding mechanism for fighting wildfires forces land management agencies to divert funds that otherwise would support routine maintenance and improvement projects as well as preventative measures that reduce wildfire risk. When more than half of the Forest Service’s budget is spent on wildfire suppression, less than half is available for maintaining habitats and the trails, roads, and bridges that make our national forests environmentally healthy and accessible to the public.

There is a clear solution to this problem:  make federal disaster funding available for wildfire suppression. Congress included $700 million in the Continuing Resolution to repay the Forest Service for funds that were transferred to firefighting, but the system of repaying the land management agencies on an annual basis is inefficient. Congress can fix this by passing the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (WDFA): a bi-partisan proposal that would fund wildfire suppression in a similar manner to how the government currently funds the response to hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters.

Passage of the WDFA is now more important than ever as Congress recently failed to act on bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Since its creation in 1965, LWCF has protected national parks and forests with the royalties from oil and gas drilling, not taxpayer dollars. LWCF helps reduce wildfire fighting costs by protecting water supplies from development and allowing firefighters to manage fire efficiently across public lands.

Further, with the passage of WDFA more of the Forest Service’s budget would be available for routine maintenance and programs like the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC): an initiative that engages youth and returning veterans in public lands maintenance projects, including forest thinning and other activities that mitigate the impact of future wildfires. Utilizing the 21CSC would also help provide job training to America’s next generation of land managers.

America’s parks and public lands provide precious natural resources, but Congress is not doing its part to protect and defend our heritage. Congress needs to pass the WDFA to ensure that the U.S. Forest Service has the funding it needs to fight wildfires, and it needs to reauthorize and fully fund the LWCF to ensure that we are able to continue to maintain and protect our natural resources for future generations.


The Corps Network Sends Sign-On Letter in Support of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act to Capitol Hill and the Administration

*Versions of this letter were sent to officials in the Obama Administration as well as staff from the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House and Senate Natural Resources Committees. 

November 10, 2015

To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of The Corps Network’s Service and Conservation Corps (Corps) across the country, we write to respectfully request your support for the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, H.R. 167 and S. 235. This important legislation will reform how wildfire suppression is funded in order to significantly minimize the harmful practice of transferring funds from critical programs to pay for wildfire suppression. The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would fund response to the most disastrous wildfires similar to how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds other disaster response under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. Instead of competing with funding for response to other natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes, wildfire disasters would have their own relief mechanism.

The Corps Network’s 100+ Corps are diverse in mission and membership and strive to improve quality of life for our participants and in our communities. From building trails and campgrounds on our nation’s iconic public lands, to responding to natural disasters and wildfire remediation and fighting, Corps provide communities with valuable services, improve lives, and the environment. Increasing disasters such as fires, risk the lives of Corpsmembers as well as interrupt other recreation, maintenance, and economic development activities on public lands.

Wildfire seasons are getting longer and major wildfires are becoming increasingly more costly to suppress. This national problem is causing a crippling burden on the Department of the Interior and the USDA Forest Service’s land management functions as they shift resources to fund suppression activities. Federal wildfire suppression will always be fully funded by the government – even if it comes at the expense of programs that improve forest health and mitigate future wildfires. However, this current ad hoc process of funding wildfire is inefficient and ineffective in delivering on nationwide agency land management priorities set by Congress and virtually assures that overall federal outlays will increase.

We believe a solution to fire funding should: 1) allow access to disaster funding; 2) minimize impacts from transfers; and 3) address the increasing costs of suppression over time. The WDFA, (S. 235, H.R. 167) is a bipartisan proposal that addresses these three items. We encourage you to incorporate WDFA language in the FY2016 appropriations or other related legislative vehicles moving through Congress to ensure this serious budgetary issue is addressed this year.

Additionally, since the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was not reauthorized in the most recent Continuing Resolution and the fund continues to be used to pay for wildfire suppression, it is also important that take action be taken to fully fund and reauthorize LWCF. Without LWCF, access to our public lands is diminished and proactive forest management provided through LWCF’s Forest Legacy Program is reduced. We cannot afford for conservation programs like LWCF to bear the burden of wildfire suppression and fighting.

We again respectfully urge your support for Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (WDFA) language in the FY16 appropriations omnibus or passage through other must-pass legislative vehicles. The WDFA is a critical, important step to ensure the long-term sustainability of our nation’s forests and other public lands and our Corps stand ready to continue helping manage and improve our nation’s important natural resources and great outdoors.


Mary Ellen Sprenkel

The Member Corps of The Corps Network

Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center Courier: Vol. 2, Issue 3 - November 2015

Photos of the Month: October 2015

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps Facebook pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from October 2015. 


California Conservation Corps


Utah Conservation Corps 

LA Conservation Corps 

Arizona Conservation Corps 

Larimer County Conservation Corps 

Mile High Youth Corps 

Northwest Youth Corps 

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps 

Washington Conservation Corps 

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - New Mexico 

Heart of Oregon Corps 



California Conservation Corps


Photos of the Month: September 2015

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps Facebook pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from September 2015. 



Arizona Conservation Corps 

California Conservation Corps 

California Conservation Corps 


Vermont Youth Conservation Corps 

LA Conservation Corps 

LA Conservation Corps 

Utah Conservation Corps 

Washington Conservation Corps 

Mile High Youth Corps 

Montana Conservation Corps 

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - CO 

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - NM 

Arizona Conservation Corps 


The Corps Network Joins Green For All for "Forum on Climate Change, Clean Energy, and Communities of Color"

Van Jones moderates a panel of expert speakers at Green For All's Forum on Climate Change, Clean Energy, and Communities of Color.

Yesterday several members of The Corps Network's staff were honored to join Green For All at an event that focused on the opportunities presented to communities by President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency's finalized Clean Power Plan.

Speakers included:

  • Julian Mocine McQueen, Green For All Outreach Director
  • Vien Truong, Green For All National Director
  • Kim Noble, Green For All Director of National Partnerships
  • Van Jones, Green For All President and Founder
  • The Honorable Raul Grijalva (AZ), U.S House of Representatives
  • Elianne Ramos, Principal and CEO of Speak Hispanic Communications
  • Key Chatterjee, Executive Director, US Climate Action Network
  • The Honorable Keith Ellison (MN), U.S. House of Representatives
  • Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ

In her opening remarks, Vien Truong put a big emphasis on her desire to tell the uplifting stories of those people who have not traditionally benefitted from the economics of the energy industry and who probably have been negatively impacted by pollution. She said that there were already many positive examples, from places like California, where new programs were helping communities benefit from clean energy economically as well as environmentally.

In his keynote, Van Jones then spent a few minutes detailing the challenge that President Obama has faced in reducing carbon emissions. He then introduced a panel he moderated by asking "How do you take the new rules [of the Clean Power Plan] and push down on the pollution and up on jobs? That's what we are going to hear about today."

Van did not shy away from bringing some less savory thoughts and comments out into the open, and began the panel by asking Elianne Ramos, CEO of Speak Hispanic Communications, to respond to the idea "that a lot of people pretend that Latinos don't care about the issue [environmentalism]." Elianne responded that this perception was false and that connections with nature were strong within Latino cultures. For instance, she mentioned that recycling and reusing materials was a well-established part of Latino culture.

Keya Chatterjee, Executive Director of the US Climate Action Network, spoke about the importance of giving people the opportunity to come together and find common ground. She mentioned that the recent climate march in New York City was attended by a variety of immigration and AIDS advocacy groups, whose chief cause might not have been climate change, but nonetheless it was something that they supported.

U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (MN) emphasized that in regard to positive developments in the clean energy sector, "people who profit from the status quo are going to push back." He said, however, to not be deterred, and to "not treat the clean power plan as a Washington thing."

Van Jones asked U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva to speak about a bill he recently introduced that would boost clean energy on tribal lands. The Congressman responded by explaining that "having clean power as an economic tool could be powerful." He mentioned that the excess energy produced by tribes could be sold outside of reservations, providing a new economic resource for tribes. He also noted that tribes own lands that count toward more than 25% of the United States' renewable energy capacity.

The conversation then took a turn and focused on how to build a stronger grassroots movement. Elainne Ramos spoke about the need to establish leadership pipelines that would provide young people with more opportunities to be involved and receive mentorship from current environmental leaders. This is the type of work, of course, that members of The Corps Network excel at doing. 

One of the other big topics discussed by the panel and also later in a keynote address by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, were how to blend together the goals of religious groups and envionmentalism. Rev. Moss III highlighted how as part of Green For All's "Green the Church" initiative, his church had implemented a variety of environmental practices, including an organic farm. He noted that organic farming in particular, was a fantastic hands-on opportunity to incorporate STEM-focused learning for participants. He also talked about how his church was involving returning citizens from prison in projects, including the renovation of the church into a LEED-certified building.

In his concluding remarks, Congressman Grijalva implored for the audience to reach new people and broaden the movement and "keep it personal, and talk about the future." He added: "Climate change is the most important unifying issue we have as a country and a globe... Barack's got a nice wingman right now with Pope Francis on the issue."

The Corps Network looks forward to continuing to work with Green For All to broaden the environmental movement to communities of color. We will also continue to work with our members to implement the Clean Power Plan and activities that combat climate change.

Boiler Plate: 
Yesterday several members of The Corps Network's staff were honored to join Green For All at an event that focused on the opportunities presented to communities by President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency's finalized Clean Power Plan.