LA Conservation Corps After School Program Partners with NASA


Story and photo from the LA Conservation Corps Newsletter, Volume 3 | Issue 9 - September 27, 2013 

School is back in session for our 4,500 participants in the After School Program (ASP). For the first time this year, ASP is partnering with NASA's Best STEM program at all 16 elementary and middle schools. The program is part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's tradition of supporting educators who play a key role in preparing, inspiring, exciting, encouraging, and nurturing the young minds of today who will be the workforce of tomorrow by attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM disciplines.

ASP students pictured above at John Adams Middle School are working on the "Build a Satellite to Orbit the Moon" design challenge project. Students must design and build a satellite that meets specific size and mass constraints.  It is required to carry a combination of camera, gravity probes and heat sensors to investigate the moon's surface.  The satellite must also pass a 1-meter Drop Test without any parts falling off. The objective is for students to demonstrate an understanding of the Engineering Design Process while utilizing each stage to successfully complete a team challenge.

For more information about the After School Program, please contact Da'Lana Walker at

Colorado Youth Corps Respond to Flooding

Taken from the Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) Newsletter - Septemember 27, 2013

"How can we help?" is a frequent question in reaction to the devastating flooding in the state.  Our thoughts are with all of those affected - and we are working hard to send crews to help.  Weld County Youth Conservation Corps is currently providing assistance with debris and trash removal in response to the massive flooding in the county, and has worked closely with Weld Food Bank, donation centers and shelters to ensure that flood victims have adequate water and food resources. Many other Colorado youth corps are poised to respond to flood relief efforts in the coming months. Youth corps have the skills and experience in conducting erosion control, rehabilitating recreation infrastructure and supporting wildlife habitat recovery. Corps are also available to help staff call centers and food and clothing distribution centers, and help victims with other basic needs. To inquire about accessing the services of a youth corps for flood relief and rehabilitation, contact Jennifer Freeman

Christina Harney - VISTA member reassigned to flood relief

As part of flood relief efforts, the Colorado State Emergency Operation Center (EOC) called on AmeriCorps and VISTA members for help. After surveying the damage near Sand Creek, Christina Harney, a CYCA Good Works for Youth VISTA member with Sand Creek Regional Greenway Partnership, jumped at the chance to offer support. Last week, Christina started a four-week reassignment working with the EOC. She is serving behind the scenes helping nonprofit and government agencies, collaborating with the relief effort, and helping others get connected to the proper resources – such as volunteers, financial assistance and in-kind donations. Christina is also working closely with the Red Cross and Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to make certain that displaced residents have a way to access resources such as clothing vouchers and soon-to-be active donation centers. 

VIDEO: Mile High Youth Corps Helps Reopen Public Land Destroyed by Fire

Click here to watch a video about how Corpsmembers from Mile High Youth Corps helped restore the Blodgett Peak Open Space in Colorado Springs following a devestating wildfire.

Ceremony Held to Name Naval Ship in Honor of Former Corpsmember Killed in Iraq


At the naval base in San Diego September 20, a naming ceremony was held for three new guided-missile destroyers, including the USS Rafael Peralta. 

Rafael was a San Diego corpsmember and crewleader in the California Conservation Corps from 1998-99. He later went on to serve in the Marines.

Rafael was killed in Iraq in 2004 while covering his body with a live hand grenade to save his fellow Marines.  He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, but a San Diego congressman continues to fight to have him awarded the Medal of Honor. 

Click here to read our original post about Peralta from when the Secretary of the Navy announced the naming in 2012. 



Diagram of Burke Class Destroyer - Ship model named after Rafael Peralta

Photos of the Month: September 2013

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. 


This is the last field day for our Alaska Service Corps crews. All that remains are a few soggy souls and the memories of a challenging, yet rewarding summer. Thank you to all of our crews this year for your hard work and dedication to service.

Youth Conservation Corps


Montana Conservation Corps - 
Well fall has finally arrived in Montana. Crews still have a few more hitches of work before the season wraps up, but cooler weather is here to stay. Any suggestions for crews to keep warm?


Conservation Corps Minnesota & IowaErik Wrede of the DNR shows everyone how it is done. — at Minnesota State Fair Grounds.


YEP - Youth Employment in Parks


Vermont Youth Conservation CorpsA new technique in the east, this project involves installing “toe wood” at the bottom of the bank (burying large woody debris perpendicular to the river flow, root ends exposed), which is implemented by the contractor in an excavator. Above the toe wood, jute-fabric soil lifts are installed to stabilize erosive soils. The fabric is secured with native willow stakes. Voila: riverbank stabilization. Notably, this location was severely damaged by tropical storm Irene.


Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - ColoradoOur fall Veterans Fire Corps taking a break from some juniper and pinyon saw work. The crew is currently serving as part of a 20 person hand crew, the Yampa River crew, fighting the Burroughs Fire in Wyoming.


Conservation Corps Minnesota & IowaYesterday we got to make 71 dozen seed bombs at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota's CareFest volunteering event with over100 of their employees! The seed bombs will be planted in local parks by our crews.


Earth Conservation Corps


Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - Colorado
One of our fall crews on their morning commute in Dinosaur National Monument.


San Francisco Conservation Corps
Congratulations Ming, who will be graduating on October 17th, on successfully completing the SFCC Program. In his time at the Corp Ming has obtained a High School Diploma, a leadership position as a TRS-Driver, was accepted into the YearUp Program and won the “More Thrilling than Michael” Dance-Off Award at the 2013 Talent Show.


Corps Job Exchange - 1. It's a one-of-a-kind collaboration of organizations dedicated to sharing opportunities and resources for your next career goals.

2. It helps you find jobs that will be a good fit for your experience and interests.
3. It helps you find like-minded employers who care about service.
4. Find opportunities you might not hear about otherwise.
5. It makes careers in conservation more accessible.
6. It raises awareness of Corps in general.
7. It's about more than just jobs: you can find information on the AmeriCorps Education Award, career tips, and more.
8. It's accessible: you're already on Facebook.
9. It gives recruiters access to a diverse and highly qualified applicant pool.
10. It helps you find your next adventure!


Coconino Rural Environment Corps
CREC learns the ropes at Search and Rescue. (We hope the dummy pulls through!)


Heart of Oregon CorpsThank you Black Bear Diner for lunch!!




California Governor Jerry Brown Visits California Conservation Corps Headquarters

Some of the CCC’s Backcountry Trails staff with Gov. Brown

Governor Jerry Brown, who created the California Conservation Corps during his first term as governor in 1976, dropped by the CCC's Sacramento headquarters last week.  He chatted with the Backcountry Trails supervisors, who had just completed their 2013 season, as well as CCC staff members.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Brown had signed legislation increasing the state's minimum wage (to $10 by 2016).  Corpsmembers are now receiving $8/hour, the state's current minimum wage.

Boiler Plate: 
Governor Jerry Brown, who created the California Conservation Corps during his first term as governor in 1976, dropped by the CCC's Sacramento headquarters last week.

[Video] Sally Jewell Talks about 21st Century Conservation Service Corps in Live Chat

Last week as part of of her livechat in conjunction with National Public Lands Day, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell spent several minutes responding to a question about the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. She noted how members of the The Corps Network and SCA would play a role, but also talked about how given modern constraints and circumstances, the program would not have the same scope as the original CCC in terms of numbers.

Later on (at the 27:25 minute mark), Secretary Jewell also talked about making the workforce of Interior agencies more diverse, and how youth hires would eventually play a big role in this change once budgets allowed for more growth in staff at national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. 

You can watch the video by clicking on the photo above or by clicking here.

Boiler Plate: 
Last week as part of of her livechat in conjunction with National Public Lands Day, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell spent several minutes responding to a question about the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.

Join the Crew - A Book by The Corps Network


Join the Crew: Inspirational Stories of Young Adults in America's Service and Conservation Corps, is a new book written by The Corps Network's Hannah Traverse, Levi Novey, and Mary Ellen Ardouny. Join the Crew features the Corpsmember success stories of over 60 young men and women who served in Corps programs throughout the country. Follow the links below to learn more about the book. 

Buy your Copy of Join the Crew on

Click here


Video Book Trailer




Article on Huffington Post Books Section

After dropping out of high school his junior year, Luis Gaeta of Fresno, California quickly realized that the working world can be a harsh place for a young person without marketable skills or a diploma. At the age of 19, he was already burnt out from the stress of juggling three part-time jobs. To make matters worse, Luis also had to deal with an unreliable car and insecure housing. With a child on the way, Luis knew he could not maintain such a hectic lifestyle, but he didn't know where to turn. Read More...


Book Press Release

WASHINGTON – Everyone who has ever participated in one of America’s Service and Conservation Corps has a story to tell. Each year, over 27,000 teens and young adults across the country join Corps as a way to gain job skills through participating in service projects that range from collecting recyclables, to tutoring kids, to fighting forest fires. Now, in Join the Crew – a new book by The Corps Network – you can read about over 60 current and former Corpsmembers who experienced adventure and personal growth through their service in Corps programs. Join the Crew is the perfect tool for people who are interested in enrolling in a Corps and want to get a better idea of what service in a Corps program is all about. Read more...


Join the Crew Press Packet, Sample Story

Download the PDF



The Corps Network Attends First Covening of the Opportunity Youth Network

Earlier this week, Mary Ellen Ardouny and Tyler Wilson of The Corps Network attended the first in-person convening of the Opportunity Youth Network in Maryland.

OYN was launched in early 2013 to bring together representatives of organizations working to reconnect opportunity youth in America (youth ages 16-24 who are not in school and are not working). A group of about 80 representatives from the nonprofit sector, the private sector, government, education, and youth-led organizations – all of whom work at the national level – currently participate in OYN. 

The goal of the meeting was to continue laying the framework for collaboration among all groups, and harness a collective impact without creating new initiatives. Members of The National Council of Young Leaders, including Corps Network Representatives Philan Tree and JR Daniels also attended the meeting and provided an essential voice for youth in the strategic planning process and working groups. The Council has already published a report of Recommendations to Increase Opportunity and Decrease Poverty in America.

Members of the National Council of Young Leaders speak at the Opportunity Youth Network convening.

Civic Works Highlighted for Work on Cool Roofs in Baltimore

Ed Sheeks, project leader with Civic Works, sits on a cool roof he and a crew installed. Also from CIvic Works are left, front to back, Crystal Hudson, James Simpson, and Daysha Bragg. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun / September 26, 2013)

Originally Published by The Baltimore Sun

Push urged for more cool roofs in Baltimore
White or light coatings reduce energy costs, last longer

By Timothy B. Wheeler

Leigh Peterson has one of the coolest roofs in Baltimore. Her rowhouse near Patterson Park sports a blinding white cap, topped by a row of shiny solar panels.

Peterson, 29, a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, doesn't need to see her roof to know it's cool, though. She just has to count the dollars she's saved on air conditioning. She got her roof coated as part of a comprehensive energy retrofit of her 109-year-old house, and her August electricity bill was about half what she paid last year.

"I'm a grad student, so I'm always into saving money, because I don't have much of it," she said. "But I'm also environmentally concerned as well."

Peterson is one of a small but growing number of Baltimoreans putting energy-saving "cool" roofs on their homes or places of business. A new report by the Abell Foundation suggests white or cool roof systems like hers could help fight global climate change while also making the city a healthier place to live — and urged local and state governments to do more to expand installation efforts.

"Longer lasting, cost-competitive and often safer to install than traditional black roofs, cool roofs could become Baltimore's next climate mitigation priority and environmental target," concluded the report, written by Joan Jacobson, a freelance journalist, researcher and former reporter for The Evening Sun and The Baltimore Sun.

Ideal for flat or gently sloping surfaces, cool roofs involve more than slathering a coat of white or shiny metallic paint on an existing layer of tar. They come in two basic types, both intended to reflect sunlight and keep the building below from heating up as much. One involves applying a liquid acrylic coating that dries into a rubber-like surface, while the other features a thin membrane laid down over the roof to seal it.

They can reflect up to 80 percent of sunlight they receive, the report says. Studies show they can cut air-conditioning costs by up to 20 percent and even lower indoor temperatures inside buildings without air conditioning. White or light-colored roofs may reduce the amount of solar heat homes get in winter, but the savings in warm weather more than offset any extra heating needed when it's cold in all but the northernmost climes, studies show.

There are health benefits as well, advocates say. Kurt Shickman, executive director of the Global Cool Cities Alliance, said a study his group just finished in Washington found that in areas where cool roofs were installed along with tree plantings at the street level, heat-related deaths declined by 6 percent to 7 percent. This past summer's relatively cool, rainy weather resulted in 15 heat-related deaths in Maryland, about a third as many as in 2012 and the fewest since 2009, according to the state health department.

Cool roofs can cost about the same as traditional ones, proponents say. Installation and materials range from $3.90 to $9.50 per square foot, compared with $4 to $8.25 per square foot for an asphalt roof, according to the report. Upkeep on cool roofs also is less, because they don't heat up and crack as much.

New or existing roofs covered with liquid coatings can easily last a decade, the report said, and two to three times longer with regular recoating every five years. The membrane roof coverings generally require replacement of the existing roof first, but also can last 25 to 30 years with minor maintenance.

Hundreds of cool roofs have been installed across Baltimore since the first one went on a home in Charles Village in 1981, according to the report. The city's housing and community development department has helped pay for reflective roofs on about 130 homes occupied by low-income families, while Civic Works, a nonprofit group affiliated with Americorps, has installed another 150, according to John Mello, the group's green project director.

The city has since made cooling homes and businesses with reflective roofs part of its climate action plan, so municipal agencies are ramping up their efforts. This year, the report notes, the city got $2.8 million from the state to make grants to low-income homeowners to put cool roofs on 500 homes as part of a weatherization program.

The city also hopes to put cool roofs on 22 to 50 homes a year as part of its "Baltimore Energy Challenge," which works to install a variety of energy efficiencies in homes as well. Alice Kennedy, city sustainability coordinator, said she expected to spend about $100,000 a year over the next three years on the effort, which targets low- to moderate-income households.

But more could be done, the Abell report argued. It suggests Baltimore and Maryland imitate aggressive installation campaigns in other cities and states. In particular, Jacobson urged the city to mandate cool roofs on new and renovated structures as part of its green building standards, much as California has done.

"I think there's some real opportunities, looking at neighboring cities, to take what they're doing and do it in Baltimore," Shickman agreed. New York City, for instance, has worked with local energy companies and corporations to coat government buildings and require cool roofs on all new and renovated private buildings.

City Hall isn't prepared to go that far. Rather than require it, Kennedy said local officials hope that by spreading the word about the savings and other benefits building owners will readily embrace cool roofs.

"It's something we would definitely like to encourage," she said.

Many appear to have gotten onto the bandwagon already, Kennedy said. From her window in the Benton city office building downtown on Baltimore Street, Kennedy said, two-thirds of the roofs she could see have white or reflective coatings.

Washington, D.C., also has a cool roof law, Shickman said, but there developers already are embracing cool roofs as they strive to meet the voluntary green building standards set under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. Cool roofs are encouraged under those guidelines, he noted.

The Abell report also called for the state to make cool roofs eligible for financing and rebates now offered for upgrading the energy efficiency of a home or business. The state does have a goal of reducing energy consumption 15 percent by 2015, it pointed out.

The Maryland Energy Administration does not provide any financial incentives to install cool roofs now, but spokeswoman Devan Willemsen said that might be about to change. If lawmakers approve the funding, the state energy office is preparing to roll out a new competitive energy-efficiency grant program targeting low- and moderate-income households, and one of the upgrades the program would pay for is a cool roof.

"We're definitely in support of cool roofs," Willemsen said.

The Abell report also urged the city's school system to integrate cool roofs into its planned $1.1 billion overhaul of 40 school buildings.

Lighter-colored roofing materials went on about 20 city schools that have been renovated or weatherized, the report says. But those crushed-granite and ceramic materials don't yield the same energy savings a true cool roof would.

Keith Scroggins, chief of facilities for the city school system, said administrators are looking at cool roofs, as well as "green" roofs, those which have vegetation planted on them to absorb rainfall and control storm-water runoff.

"As we get closer to design of the first group of schools, we expect to decide on a variety of energy efficient options," Scroggins said.

With storm-water control a priority in Baltimore because of the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, some might think green roofs would take precedence over cool roofs. Shickman said it's a false choice, as both can go on larger buildings, and with smaller structures the runoff controls can be installed on the ground.

The biggest problem with cool roofs, experts warn, is they can cause or worsen moisture damage if not properly insulated and ventilated.

Stanford University researchers also have suggested that cool roofs might actually warm the planet if they went global, because they'd reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere and warm the many fine particles floating in the air. That's a distant worry for now because cool roofs are nowhere near widespread.

Peterson, an area vice president of the Patterson Park neighborhood association, said she put leased solar panels on her roof first, as a hedge of sorts against rising electricity rates, then had the cool roof installed. It was part of a $3,000 complete energy retrofit of her drafty home, she said. Technicians sealed up cracks, put in additional insulation and installed a new hot-water heater.

The payoff: electricity bills of $100 to $120 for her 1,000 square foot home even with her central air running.

"That is pretty wonderful," Peterson concluded.

An earlier version misstated the size of Leigh Peterson's home. The Sun regrets the error.

Cool roofs

Designed to reflect sunlight and have lower temperatures than traditional black or dark roofs.

Though many are white, they can be other colors as long as they include reflective material.

Ideal for flat or gently sloped roofs, best when put on new or replacement roofs.

Two basic types: "elastomeric" roof with a multi-layer liquid coating, reinforced with mesh, or prefabricated membrane sheet.

Can reflect up to 80 percent of sunlight, reduce air-conditioning costs by up to 20 percent.


Boiler Plate: 
Push urged for more cool roofs in Baltimore. White or light coatings reduce energy costs, last longer.