Photos of the Month: December 2016

Photos of the Month: November 2016

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps social pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from November 2016.
 

 


Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - CO 



Greencorps Chicago 



Civic Works 



Greening Youth Foundation 



Greening Youth Foundation 



Southwest Conservation Corps 



Washington Conservation Corps 



Washington Conservation Corps 



Operation Fresh Start 



California Conservation Corps 



Greater Miami Service Corps 



Montana Conservation Corps 



Citizens Conservation Corps 



Maine Conservation Corps


 

Three Reasons Why We’re Especially Excited about OAK Week 2016


Katheryne Lewis, one of The Corps Network's 2016 Corpsmembers of the Year, speaking at a White House Council on Environmental Quality event during OAK Week 2016.


Every year, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) – a national partnership of organizations working to connect youth and families with nature – convenes in Washington, DC for “OAK Week.” This is a time to advocate for policies that promote public lands stewardship and improved access to nature, as well as a time to celebrate successes in promoting outdoor recreation.

As a proud member of the OAK Steering Committee, The Corps Network looks forward to this annual opportunity to meet with like-minded organizations and push for our shared vision of a world in which all young people have meaningful relationships with nature. However, this year’s OAK Week is particularly exciting for a number of reasons.

First, we are excited about the presentation of the first OAK Awards on Tuesday, November 15th. Among the honorees are the National Park Foundation, REI and The North Face, all of which have been strong supporters of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) – a public-private initiative to engage 100,000 youth and recent veterans in public lands service and stewardship.

Second, we look forward to participating in the OAK lobby day on Wednesday, November, 16th. Among other causes, we will join our partners in advocating for the 21CSC and public lands appropriations that are so important to making sure our parks and forests are open to everyone.

Finally, The Corps Network is honored to participate in an OAK Week event at the White House on Thursday, November 17th. Katheryne Lewis, one of The Corps Network’s 2016 Corpsmembers of the Year, will speak at this event about her experience serving in the 21CSC through Montana Conservation Corps and Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. Katheryne is an extraordinary young woman who won our Corpsmember of the Year award, in part, for her outspoken leadership on the need to engage more women and minorities in nature. We are proud to have her speak on the importance of outdoor access for all.

The mission of OAK – to connect children, youth and families with the outdoors – is close to the heart of The Corps Network’s mission to promote Corps as a tool to support youth development and protect public lands. We are proud of our role on the OAK steering committee and look forward to this week’s events.  

The Corps Network Proudly Supports Launch of Service Year Alliance

 

The Corps Network is thrilled to join many other national service organizations in New York City today to celebrate the formal launch of Service Year Alliance.

We are proud to partner with this important new organization and glad we could be here today to hear from such inspiring leaders in national service as Retired General Stanley McChrystal, Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Civic Enterprises CEO John Bridgeland, and Shirley Sagawa, “a founding mother of the modern service movement.” It was a pleasure to witness Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, perform the swearing in for a new cohort of AmeriCorps members from Green City Force, a member organization of The Corps Network.

Service Year Alliance formed early in 2016 through a merger of ServiceNation, the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project and the National Conference on Citizenship. At their core, these three entities all strove for the same thing: to promote access to, knowledge of, and support for national service opportunities. They merged to combine their resources and expertise into one united effort to make a service year “a common expectation and common opportunity for all young Americans.”

Over the past year-and-a-half, The Corps Network has worked with Service Year Alliance and its founding members on two specific initiatives to enhance the outward value of service year opportunities.

As anyone who has participated in AmeriCorps can tell you, a national service experience can provide a myriad of intangible benefits. Through their service, Corpsmembers develop skills in leadership, communication and problem-solving. They may visit new places, work with diverse people and become more empathetic, engaged citizens. The key is to make these benefits more apparent.

First, starting in the spring of 2015, The Corps Network worked with what would become Service Year Alliance on a pilot project in which Corpsmembers from eight member organizations of The Corps Network worked with instructors from the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) to create online portfolios that captured what they learned through their service. These portfolios were then submitted to colleges for assessment, allowing Corpsmembers to earn up to six college credits for their service.

Currently, The Corps Network is partnering with Service Year Alliance to pilot the use of “digital badges” in defining the knowledge and skills gained through a service year. Via the LRNG online platform, Corpsmembers in this pilot will – by successfully completing various activities – be able to demonstrate their mastery of certain essential workplace competencies, like the ability to manage stress or have a productive disagreement. Corpsmembers will then receive digital badges: online icons linked to information about how he or she developed a given skill. Corpsmembers can link to these badges on their résumés, providing prospective employers with insight into the expertise a service year alumnus can bring to the job. 

Today we also celebrate the launch of the Service Year Exchange: an online platform developed through Service Year Alliance that connects young people who want to serve with service year opportunities, like those offered by the over 130 member organizations of The Corps Network. We are thrilled about the potential of this new tool to help more young people engage in national service and help our Corps recruit talented, ambitious Corpsmembers.

National service programs have a tremendous positive impact on our communities, on those who serve, and on the lives of millions of people who benefit from service projects completed by AmeriCorps members and others. Today, The Corps Network proudly joins many major companies, philanthropists and public figures in support of Service Year Alliance and the vision that national service programs can build understanding and empathy among diverse populations and empower the next generation. 

2017 Request for Proposals for Civic Justice Corps (CJC) through The Corps Network and CNCS

Eligibility: 
Must be an “Organizational/Service and Conservation Corps” member of The Corps Network in good standing with dues fully paid for each year as the program year may span more than one TCN fiscal year. Affiliate members are not eligible.
 

The Civic Justice Corps Request for Proposals (RFP) is open from November 10 to December 2, 2016. The program period would start October 1, 2017 for a three-year grant cycle. Please direct all questions via email to programs@corpsnetwork.org. We will create a list of FAQ’s to present during the Informational call on Wednesday, November 16 at 2pm EST (see last bullet above for recording of this call).

Each year, according to the Department of Justice report, “Roadmap to Reentry” (April 2016), more than 600,000 citizens return to neighborhoods across America after serving time in federal and state prisons. Another 11.4 million individuals cycle through local jails. And nearly one in three Americans of working age have had an encounter with the criminal justice system—mostly for relatively minor, non-violent offenses, and sometimes from decades in the past.

To address the needs of our court-involved and justice-involved youth and young adults, the proposed Civic Justice Initiative will build upon TCN’s Civic Justice Corps (CJC), a service-based re-entry and diversion approach to improve the employment prospects and labor market performance of young court-involved or “returning” citizens through an integrated, partnership-based program of education, training, work, and service.

In CJC, service is the center of a strategy that includes formal working partnerships with justice agencies, employers, and other community agencies, engaging systems in collaboration as a part of its method; individual case management and intensive services; life skills development, service-learning, education, and employment preparation; and meaningful service projects as well as the use of the trauma and healing curriculum, which is being developed by The Corps Network.  CJC is flexible—it has met the needs and tapped the assets of communities nationwide, from Wisconsin to Texas to California to Florida.

Hurricane Matthew Response is first Project for Palmetto Conservation Corps Inaugural Crew

Launched this past August as an arm of the South Carolina-based Palmetto Conservation Foundation, Palmetto Conservation Corps is one of the newest members of The Corps Network. Right out of orientation, the Corps' inaugural crew headed out to assist the Hurricane Matthew response. Check out this local news report as well as photos and a press release from the Corps. Well done to the crew and thank you for your service! 


 


October 18, 2016
For Immediate Release

Contact:  Rachel Price
Palmetto Conservation Foundation
rprice@palmettoconservation.org
803-771-0870

 

Palmetto Conservation Corps Deploys For Disaster Relief in Horry and Marion Counties

For the next three weeks, the Palmetto Conservation Corps will work out of Conway, SC, to provide disaster relief in Horry and Marion counties following Hurricane Matthew and subsequent flooding.

Both counties experienced wind damage and flooding from the 12 to 18 inches of rain that fell during the hurricane. Severe flooding continued as the PeeDee, Little PeeDee, Lumber, and Waccamaw rivers crested about a week after the storm at heights not seen since the 1920s. Hundreds of homes, farms, public buildings, roads and bridges were damaged in the storm.

The Corps will work for up to three weeks in the two hard-hit counties to assist with immediate needs for disaster relief at no charge to the communities. The work will focus on debris removal and general clean up, and may also include house muck outs, house gutting, mold remediation, potable water distribution, recovery resource guide distribution, call assistance on crisis clean-up hotlines, and assessing damage at housing sites.

Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF) launched the Corps in August as the only trail-based AmeriCorps service program for young adults in South Carolina. Most Corps training and service focuses on construction and maintenance of the Palmetto Trail, South Carolina’s premier hiking–bicycling trail that runs across the state from Awendaw in Charleston County to Walhalla in Oconee County.

In addition to trail work, a portion of Corps service is dedicated to disaster preparedness and response. Corps training for this disaster relief deployment has been in partnership with the St. Bernard Project, the South Carolina Commission on Community Service, South Carolina Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (SCVOAD), Waccamaw Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (Waccamaw VOAD), United Way of South Carolina, North Conway Baptist Church, and First Baptist Church of Conway.

Two members from Columbia's St. Bernard Project team will join the Corps during this deployment. First Baptist Church will provide housing, and Waccamaw VOAD will feed the crew lunch and dinner on workdays.

 





Photos of the Month: October 2016

NJYC-Phillipsburg Works with New Jersey Audubon to Improve Habitats, Water Quality


CONSERVATION PARTNERS HELP IMPROVE YOUR WATER QUALITY IN NORTHERN NEW JERSEY

Originally published on New Jersey Audubon website, 5/23/16, John Parke

 

Free native plants and labor were the words of the day last week as New Jersey Audubon (NJA), the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority/Wallkill River Watershed Management Group (SCMUA-WRWMG) and the NJ Youth Corps of Phillipsburg partnered up to work with private landowners in the Highlands region to restore habitat and improve water quality.

With funding associated with the Delaware River Watershed Initiative from the William Penn Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation the groups worked together and planted over 10,000 native plants along streams at farms in the region at no cost to the landowners. 

“The type of plant we are using is dark green bulrush,” said John Parke, Stewardship Project Director of New Jersey Audubon.  “Not only is the dark green bulrush a native plant that helps prevent soil erosion when planted along the banks of a stream and provides important food and cover for wildlife, but dark green bulrush helps remove phosphorus on the order of 80% from water.”

Excess phosphorus is a major part of nutrient pollution, which according to the US EPA, is “one of America's most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems.”  Although, phosphorous is a natural and essential part of ecosystems, too much can pollute the water by leading algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle.  Excess algae can harm water quality by decreasing the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive.  Additionally significant increases of algae in our water can also impact human health, food resources, and thus impact a region’s economy.

“The restoration work day conducted by NJ Audubon, SCMUA-WRWMG, and the New Jersey Youth Corps successfully created a new chapter for the awesome conservation and stewardship story that continues to grow at farms like the Jorittsma Farm and Summer Solstice Farm in the Delaware River Watershed," said, Nathaniel Sajdak, Watershed Director with the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority /Wallkill River Watershed Management Group. “With NJ Audubon bringing in the NJ Youth Corps as an on-call labor force for the initiative and knowing that the students are trained in the Waders in the Water program and have experience in on-the ground conservation work, it gives us another tool in the toolbox to get the work done efficiently, cost effectively and move the initiative forward,” added Sajdak.

NJ Audubon has recently partnered with NJ Youth Corps of Phillipsburg and is providing the Corps with service learning projects in support of the Delaware Watershed Restoration Initiative. These are projects conducted in partnership with landowners and farmers in three sub-watersheds of the Highlands region: the Lower Musconetcong, Lopatcong and Upper Paulin’s Kill. These projects will help the overall watershed initiative, increasing the pace of project implementation in the field, and the projects will also provide Corps members with valuable employment skills.

“Working on farms in the Delaware River region has been challenging,” said NJ Youth Corps Member, Stacy Leisner (Age 21).  “But it means a lot to me, because I’m one of those people that love animals and the environment, and I want to do what I can to make those habitats and the water better. I don’t want to see our environment go down the drain.”

NJ Audubon and SCMUA-WRWMG are looking to engage more landowners for enrollment into the various federal conservation cost share programs for conducting conservation practices on their land, as well as distribute more free native plant materials. However to be eligible to receive free pant materials properties must be located in the following sub-watersheds of the Highlands region (the Lower Musconetcong, Lopatcong and the Upper Paulin's kill sub-watersheds) and must exhibit a degree of ecological impairment. For more information please contact NJA Stewardship Project Director, John Parke at john.parke@njaudubon.org or SCMUA-WRWMG Watershed Director Nathaniel Sajdak nsajdak@scmua.org.

What is a watershed?  A watershed is an area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, creek, river, lake or groundwater. Homes, farms, forests, wetlands, small towns, big cities and more can make up watersheds.  They come in all shapes and sizes and can vary from millions of acres to a few acres.

Photos by John Parke and Nathaniel Sajdak

 

Hispanic Heritage Month 2016 - Corps Engaging a More Diverse Generation in Conservation/Community Leadership

The United States is increasingly diverse, but the population participating in outdoor recreation and working in environmental conservation is still overwhelmingly white. In order to ensure the future protection of our public lands and waters, it’s imperative that we make environmental issues and outdoor activities more relevant and accessible to all Americans.

Estimates show that white people of non-Hispanic origin comprise 68 percent of those participating in outdoor recreation. People of Hispanic origin, who comprise some 17 percent of the total U.S. population, make up only 8 percent of those getting outside to recreate.

However, this does not necessarily reflect how people feel about the outdoors. A survey conducted of Latinos in Colorado and New Mexico showed that 78 percent of respondents felt it is “very important” that government preserve and protect public lands. Another survey conducted by The New York Times showed that 57 percent of Latino respondents see climate change as “extremely or very important,” compared to just 37 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

There are a range of reasons why people of color are underrepresented in the outdoors. Lack of proximity to safe, nearby public lands is part of the problem, but a deeper issue to address is that not everyone feels particularly welcome or represented in our parks. For example, about 80 percent of National Park Rangers are white.

A big part of making public lands more accessible is increasing the diversity of those working to protect them. In 2015, some 19 percent of young people enrolled in member programs of The Corps Network identified as Hispanic. This is representative of America’s demographic breakdown. Through Corps, these young adults gain the experience and hard skills to succeed in community and resource management positions.

Today’s Corpsmembers are tomorrow’s more diverse generation of conservation and civic leaders. In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, here are just a few stories submitted by member Corps about young people of Hispanic heritage serving their communities and the environment.

 


Eriberto Diaz Rocha

LA Conservation Corps

When I first stepped outside the work truck and onto our worksite in the mountains, there were mountaintops as far as the eye could see. I’ve never seen them this close before and I was scared – mostly because I am afraid of heights! But once I got past my initial fears, I thought the view was so nice!

After that first day, I remember telling my friends and family that I felt like I was on top of the world. I went from not ever giving the mountains a second thought because I just didn’t think they were something I would ever be able to experience, to being high above the city and seeing hiking trails, plants and trees. This made me think of how beautiful life is. It made me want to give more color to my life instead of living in black and white; that adventures like this can lead to experiences that will make my life more interesting. I can’t wait to bring my family and friends on a hike in the mountains so that I can share this beautiful place with them, too.

This experience has affected me in many wonderful ways. Not only has it provided me with a steady job that enables me to help my family, but it has encouraged me to think bigger about my place in the world. Everything I do has an effect. I might not see it right away, but one day I can come back to this space and see the benefits of the work that I’m doing right now.

Working in the mountains with the Corps has also instilled a sense of excitement about being able to pass this experience onto other young people who want to change their life. This is important because my work here has also granted me with an opportunity to forget about my past, learn to make better choices in life, and look forward to a brighter future.

It makes me feel good knowing that I am doing something to make a difference in and for the community.

 

 


Assisting the Hungry to Grow their Own Vegetables

¡YouthWorks! Santa Fe Youth Corps

Early one morning in July 2016, through the efforts of ¡YouthWorks! Santa Fe Youth Corps – a corps comprised of 90% Hispanic members from the northern New Mexico region – 50 individuals and/or families in-need each received a hand-built take-home Vegetable Garden Box, designed and planted with love by youth and young adults from ¡YouthWorks! Santa Fe Youth Corps.

This project was made possible by a unique grant awarded to nonprofits with the best projects for community and neighborhood revitalization, corridor improvements, green space creation or the creation of meaningful public spaces. The funds allowed ¡YouthWorks! Santa Fe Youth Corps members to hand-build and distribute garden boxes filled with vegetable starts for Santa Fe’s most in-need.

Developed as a concept to assist low-income members of community by giving them the ability to grow their own vegetables, ¡YouthWorks!’ take-home Vegetable Garden Box project has also functioned as a job-skills training and community service project for Corpsmembers of ¡YouthWorks! Santa Fe Youth Corps. Lead by a retired war-veteran, professional trainer and master carpenter, participating Corpsmembers learned carpentry skills, design, construction and small project management.

¡YouthWorks! is a nonprofit organization that offers alternative education and GED preparation, job and life skills training, hands-on work and service opportunities combined with job placement services for youth and young adults who are seeking to better their lives.

 

 


Alejandra Perez

Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps (LCC)

Hello, my name is Alejandra Perez and I am 25 years old.  I have two wonderful boys and a husband.

I struggled with finding a program that would help me finish getting my high school diploma as well as work-experience.  Every time I enrolled into a different school I felt like I wasn’t getting the help I needed or wasn’t really learning anything. But in the winter of 2015 I heard about Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps Program. I decide to attend their work-experience and school orientations and give it a chance.

I made a great decision. I have made it my goal to finish my high school diploma and to learn as much as I can in the work- experience program. So far I’ve been here for a year, started out with 50 credits and know I’m sixty-four credits away from graduating in March of 2017. Another decision I made was to do a dual enrollment class through Fresno City College.

I have accomplished a number of things since I started at the Corps in September 2015, but the most important thing for me is to volunteer and give back to the community. I have volunteered at the monthly Fresno EOC food distributions. When I see the longs line it just makes me work harder and give back as much as I can to the community.

During October 2015, and this October, I volunteer for Cancer Awareness and encourage students and Corpsmembers to come volunteer and bring awareness to school and the LCC campus. I encourage them to participate in the annual walk, get screened, and also encourage their friends and family members to get checked. 

Throughout the year I have volunteered in various events, including at Make a Difference Day back in October 2015, and through a recycling program for Global Youth Service Day. I was a presenter at the Corps Open House in December 2015, participated in April 2016 with YouthBuild Charter School at a Community Action Project for Green Is Good, and also volunteered to share my story on the Corpsmember panel during the LCC Mental Toughness Orientation. I have earned thirteen awards in Citizenship, the Student of the Trimester award, Perfect Attendance, Student of the Month and the Whatever It Takes Award-Field Crew. I am certified in First Aid/CPR and Forklift operation. 

Photos of the Month: September 2016

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 2016. 
 

 


Urban Corps of San Diego County 



Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps 



Maine Conservation Corps 

 


Larimer County Conservation Corps 



RMYC-NM 



Arizona Conservation Corps 



Civicorps

 


Texas Conservation Corps 



PowerCorps PHL 



PowerCorps PHL



LA Conservation Corps 



ACE 



 

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