Photos of the Month: June 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 June 2015. 


Earth Conservation Corps 

Montana Conservation Corps 

Larimer County Conservation Corps 

PowerCorps PHL

The Corps Network

The Corps Network

CCC Backcountry 

Mt. Adams Institute 

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - New Mexico 


Kupu - Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, visits Kupu 

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps

Utah Conservation Corps - Utah, Montana, and Wyoming Conservation Corps got to spend the morning with USDA Secretary Vilsack and USFS Chief Tidwell in Jackson, WY. 


Heart of Oregon Corps 

SCA - Student Conservation Association 

ACE - American Conservation Corps 

Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa 

Washington Conservation Corps 



7 Ways Corps Enhance Fishing & Boating Opportunities

In recognition of National Fishing & Boating Week (June 6 - 13, 2015), an event of Great Outdoors Month, here are just a few examples of how Corps across the country help create or improve fishing and boating opportunities. 

As boaters and fishing enthusiasts know all too well, human activity can have a disastrous effect on our waters. Carelessness is what leads to trash-clogged rivers, wetlands coated with oil slicks, and depleted fish populations.

Fortunately, there are many people who are not only aware of how their actions affect our waterways, but who make an effort to protect our lakes and rivers. Among these environmentally-conscious individuals are Corpsmembers; young adults enrolled in America’s Service and Conservation Corps.

Corps are comprehensive youth development programs that engage diverse young adults in service projects that address local environmental and community needs. Read below to learn about seven service projects across the country through which Corps enhanced fishing and boating opportunities.


1. Kayaking in Los Angeles – LA Conservation Corps 

In 2011, LA Conservation Corps received a license to operate the first non-motorized boating pilot program on the Los Angeles River. All 280 available seats sold out within the first 10 minutes of the program’s online launch. During the first week of the program, the waiting list surpassed 350 people.

This early success allowed the Paddle the LA River program to expand. Today, kayaking trips are led five days a week throughout the summer by members of LA Conservation Corps who have been trained in swift water rescue. These Corpsmembers build leadership skills and spread environmental awareness as they educate kayakers about the ecology of the river during the course of the 1.5 mile trips. By paddling this scenic stretch of river, Angelenos can discover a side of LA they might not have ever known existed.


2. Veterans Beautifying Beaches – Washington Conservation Corps 

Marine debris is harmful to aquatic life, unpleasant for beachgoers, and potentially dangerous for boaters.  It is estimated that nearly 270,000 tons of plastic debris float on the surface of the world’s oceans. While some of this trash eventually sinks, a lot of it drifts ashore. The good news for ocean-lovers is that Corps based in coastal communities are frequently involved in beach cleanups.

For example, United States veterans serving with Washington Conservation Corps removed over 4,000 pounds of marine debris from 5.5 miles of Bellingham Bay over the course of just seven days in 2014. Their efforts were part of a larger cleanup project through which more than 11 tons of trash were removed from the beaches of the Northwest Straits between March and September of last year.

Through this project, not only did northern Washington’s beaches receive a much-needed cleanup, but a group of young veterans continued to serve their country as part of their transition back to civilian life. 


3. Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems in Montana – Montana Conservation Corps 

Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) engages both Corpsmembers and volunteers in protecting the pristine waters of the Northern Rockies. In 2014, Corpsmembers removed invasive Tamarisk (commonly referred to as salt cedar) from the banks of over 40 miles of the Missouri River. Tamarisk is extremely invasive, replacing native plants with impenetrable thickets that can make riverside recreation impossible. Corpsmembers also removed Eurasian watermilfoil, an invasive plant that forms dense mats on the surface of the water, from an 11-mile section of the Jefferson River. Watermilfoil can quickly overtake native plants, rob other aquatic life of oxygen, and interfere with fishing and boating.

Last year, MCC Corpsmembers also participated in a fin clipping project for Montana’s Fish, Wildlife, and Parks division. Approximately 150,000 fish were marked as a way to evaluate the effectiveness of fish stocking programs at numerous dams.

Recently, Montana Corpsmembers have been involved with the Flathead River to Lake Initiative.

Thanks to Corpsmembers and other volunteers, over 1,000 shrubs and trees have been planted along the Flathead this spring. The new plants stabilize the riverbanks and reduce the amount of sediment flowing downstream.=

In addition to Corpsmember projects, MCC engages the whole community in watershed protection through volunteer projects, education and outreach. Recurring volunteers with MCC’s “Stream Teams” have the opportunity to collect sophisticated water chemicals for state and federal databases. Episodic volunteers can still participate in a wide variety of projects focused on improving overall watershed health. Past projects have included river cleanups, wildlife and fisheries surveys, water quality and quantity monitoring, snowpack surveys, riparian habitat surveys, and teaching youth about conservation. 


4. Local Youth Restoring the Gulf – CLIMB CDC | Texas Conservation Corps | The Corps Network |The Nature Conservancy 

Over the last decade, the Gulf Coast has been battered by natural and man-made disasters, one of the most notable being the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill which released 4.9 million barrels-worth of crude oil into the Gulf.

Although we have yet to see the long-term environmental and economic impact of recent disasters (ranging from the oil spill to hurricanes and flooding), mobilizing a trained environmental and disaster response workforce to effectively carry out restoration efforts is the best way to diminish any further ecological degradation.

The Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative is an effort to build the capacity of Service and Conservation Corps in coastal communities of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Led by The Corps Network and The Nature Conservancy, the initiative has operated two phases of a pilot project in which local Corpsmembers from CLIMB CDC, a Mississippi-based economic development organization, tested water quality and surveyed invertebrate and fish populations under the supervision of experienced Texas Conservation Corps Crew Leaders. Corpsmembers learned how to kayak and were trained in water safety, water monitoring techniques, and construction.


5. Protecting Hawaii's Beaches - Kupu, Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps

In the Hawaiian language, Kupu means “to sprout, grow, germinate, or increase.” The kupukupu fern is one of the first plants to bring life back to areas that have been devastated by lava flow. Taking its name from this vital plant, the organization Kupu, which houses the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps, states that its mission is to “bring life back to the people, land, and ocean while restoring the larger community for a better tomorrow.” One way that Kupu embodies its mission is through organized service projects.

In April of this year, youth in Kupu’s Extended Internship Program and CommunityU Program participated in a weeklong service project in which they cleaned Malaekahana Stream and Kahuku Beach in Kahuku, Hawaii. The ocean plays a very important role in Hawaiian culture and is vitally important to the state’s economy. Keeping Hawaii’s beaches and waterways clean and healthy is a necessity.

One of the crew’s accomplishments was removing large ghost fishing nets from Kahuku Beach. These nets, which weigh hundreds of pounds, had been sitting along the shoreline for years, entangling fish, coral, turtles and other marine species. Crew members also removed invasive mangrove trees from Malaekahana Stream. The trees had completely choked out native flora and fauna; their removal will allow native aquatic plant and fish species to thrive.


6. Adopt a Channel – Orange County Conservation Corps 

In California’s Orange County, over 350 miles of storm channels and urban waterways help transport rain and stormwater to the coast, where one can find some of California’s most pristine beaches and coastal ecological preserves. Over time, however, the county’s storm channels and waterways were neglected and accumulated debris and trash. Graffiti also spread throughout the system of channels, creating a sense of urban decay that stimulated gang activity.

A powerful storm could flood the county and severely damage coastal ecosystems if the channels remained clogged. Partnering with Orange County Conservation Corps and a number of other local organizations, Disneyland started a program to clean the channels. Modeled after the successful Adopt a Highway program, the pilot of the Adopt a Channel program was extremely successful: crews removed over 1,000 pounds of debris that otherwise would have been deposited into the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Corpsmembers also removed over 15,000 square feet of graffiti from two miles of the channel, leading to a 90% decrease in vandalism.

Adopt a Channel has encouraged the whole community to take ownership of their water resources and local coastal ecology. Each Adopter has the opportunity to provide a healthier habitat for fish, great blue herons, pelicans and other coastal animals.


7. Reinvigorating D.C.’s “Forgotten River” – Earth Conservation Corps 

“Endangered youth reclaiming the Anacostia River, our communities and our lives” is the mission statement of Earth Conservation Corps (ECC). The Anacostia has been called “DC’s forgotten river.” Its 8.7 miles flow through some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the nation’s capital. Though the river is beginning to recover thanks to government and private efforts, some of the communities along its banks continue to experience limited development and high crime.

Earth Conservation Corps works to reverse this trend by engaging youth from under-resourced DC neighborhoods in the environmental restoration of the Anacostia. Among other things, Corpsmembers and ECC volunteers remove trash and debris from the water, collect and analyze water samples, and stabilize the river’s banks with new plantings. The Corps has also been involved in bringing bald eagles and ospreys back to the river by improving nesting habitats and helping restore the river’s fish population. In past summers, ECC held Friday Night Fishing, inviting families from the community to the ECC dock on the Anacostia to learn how to reel in a fish.


Civic Works and The Corps Network Join Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell for 50 Cities Initiative Launch

Civic Works Corpsmembers and Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network, with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Photo courtesy of DOI.

On Tuesday, June 2nd, Baltimore officially became the 11th city to join the Department of the Interior’s 50 Cities Initiative. Staff from The Corps Network as well as representatives from Civic Works, Baltimore’s Conservation Corps, attended an event at Middle Branch Park along the Patapsco River where Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement. Also in attendance at the event were Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, White House Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes, the YMCA and several other local organizations.

The 50 Cities initiative is an effort to build coalitions in 50 cities across the country to put into action the Department of the Interior’s broader youth initiative, which is focused on enhancing and expanding outdoor recreational, educational, volunteer and career opportunities on public lands for millions of youth and veterans.

In each of the 50 cities participating in the initiative, The Corps Network is working with member Corps to place an AmeriCorps member at the local YMCA. The Corpsmember will assist a Community Coordinator in developing and leading a coalition of local organizations that can inspire young people to play, learn, serve, and work on public lands.

Twenty-six of the 50 cities will be announced this year. The 11 that have already been announced include New York City, Atlanta, Miami, the Twin Cities, Boston, San Francisco, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Denver, the District of Columbia, and Baltimore. Twenty-four cities will be announced in 2016.

Over the next four years, the goals of the youth initiative (Play, Learn, Serve and Work) include engaging over 10 million young people in outdoor play in 50 key cities; providing outdoor educational opportunities to at least 10 million K-12 students; engaging 1 million volunteers annually in volunteer activities on public lands; and developing 100,000 work or training opportunities on America’s public lands.

Boiler Plate: 
On Tuesday, June 2nd, Baltimore officially became the 11th city to join the Department of the Interior’s 50 Cities Initiative. Staff from The Corps Network as well as representatives from Civic Works, Baltimore’s Conservation Corps, attended an event at Middle Branch Park along the Patapsco River where Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement. Also in attendance at the event were Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, White House Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes, the YMCA and several other local organizations.

Kupu volunteers plant 20,000 trees for Arbor Day

Photo courtesy Kirsten Gallaher/DLNR

Kupu Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps' Arbor Day project received significant press coverage. In the weeks leading up to Arbor Day, volunteers planted 20,000 native trees in an effort to restore a deforested Natural Area Reserve. 


Press release (4/24/2015) - - Department of Land and Natural Resources
By Deborah Ward

KAHULUI — “E ola ‛oe. E ola mâkou nei,” Malia Heimuli whispers as she removes a koa seedling from its container and buries its roots in the soft, dark earth. “It means you live, so we live.”

It’s fitting that in the weeks preceding Arbor Day – Friday April 24, groups of Kupu Hawai‛i Youth Conservation Corps volunteers have traveled to the Division of Forestry and Wildlife -run Nakula Natural Area Reserve (NAR) high on the leeward slopes of Haleakalâ. The aim of this partnership: planting 20,000 native trees to help bring life and water back to barren slopes damaged by non-native hooved animals. The catch: planting at a rate of around 2,800 trees a day to make use of $300,000 in federal grant money before the end of 2016. But the enthusiastic team of volunteers is up for the challenge.

Established in 2011, the Nakula NAR is an extraordinary landscape with a dramatic elevational change of 5,600 vertical feet in 2.5 miles. The mostly koa-dominated dryland forests are habitat for 9 species of endangered Hawaiian plants and 4 species of birds, including the Kiwikiu or Maui Parrotbill. With populations numbering only 500, it is now one of the rarest birds in the world. While no longer found here, the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project plans to start reintroducing Kiwikiu in 5 years’ time as an insurance policy to prevent extinction of the species.

Photo courtesy Kirsten Gallaher/DLNR

This ambitious plan relies on the revival of the forests. Along with those on the Big Island, the koa forests of leeward Haleakala were once the major source of logs for wa‛a (canoes) that supplied ancient Hawaiian voyagers. Where there was once a vast forest, a scarred landscape of invasive grass and red earth remains. In some places, entire chunks of the mountainside have been washed out onto the coral reefs below.

Gina Carroll, of Kupu Hawai‛i, points out the few remaining trees in the valleys, “When you see how large the koa trees are, you can imagine what it must have been like across the whole landscape. You cannot help but think what the trees would say if they could talk.”

According to Peter Landon, manager of the NAR System on Maui, “Pressure from ungulates is what really destroyed it all; the trees just couldn’t handle being trampled and eaten, and now the environment may be too dry for any of the seeds to establish. Back when it was a closed canopy forest, there used to be freshwater springs and streams that ran all the way to the ocean.” About Nakula he says, “This is really it. We are attempting to restore a forest in a small reserve of 1,400 acres, we’ve got Kanaio NAR (less than 900 acres) and that’s all we’re protecting from a dryland forest that used to span from Makawao to Kaupo; it’s kind of sad.”

Goats and cattle are still a dire threat to the remaining 5% of dryland forests on Maui. A helicopter flyover of a single ravine outside the boundary fence reveals hundreds of goats. The animals are present in such numbers that they overflow from rocky hiding places out onto the slopes. Fences hold back the onslaught from forests which are gradually being brought back to life by a dedicated team of a handful of Division of Forestry and Wildlife staff and dozens of volunteers. Without them the unique forests and birds, the very first inhabitants of Maui, will not return.

Photo courtesy Kirsten Gallaher/DLNR

Each morning starts with a steep climb from base camp up the slopes, where thousands of koa, ‛ô‛hia lehua, mamane and a‛ali‛i seedlings have been dropped by helicopter. The sun shines hot and bright, illuminating the rolling valleys stretching below to the sea. Within minutes, the view is whitewashed by clouds rolling in. Up here this is a daily occurrence. Tiny water droplets cling to the hairs on the volunteers’ skin and eventually fall to the ground, illustrating one of the reasons why Hawai’i’s upland forests are so crucial for ensuring healthy watersheds. Trees act as traps, condensing moisture from the clouds and recharging groundwater in what would otherwise be a dry habitat. It is predicted that bringing back the trees will one day return water to the dried up streambeds.

The volunteers form an outplanting assembly line, putting trees in the ground at an incredible rate. They are all interns under the Hawai‛i Youth Conservation Corps program, which places aspiring young conservationists at various environmental partner organizations. Many of the interns are inspired to channel their passion for nature into further studies or careers.

For Nôweo Kai, 33, something she’s valued during the program is, “the immersion: being completely surrounded 40 hours a week by individuals who actually share the same interests and passions as me”. When asked why she wants to conserve these areas, she replies, “There’s a foundation of place. I love – I am in love with – these islands. And I feel like the unique things that make up these islands biologically (and of course historically and culturally), that’s something that’s in the very core of me.”

Despite the lighthearted banter during outplanting, when they talk story around the campfire, every single person seems moved by the experience. Maeghan Castillo (25) describes it as “an experience so rare, it’s almost as if we are starting another chapter in our lives”. Gus Robertson (24) feels “profoundly humbled to be involved in this type of work. To think about this place before it was degraded, all rugged and wild, and to think about our grandkids being able to visit in 100 years when it will be a vibrant forest again, gives me a great sense of accomplishment and joy.”

Christopher Zauner, 18, articulates the sentiment shared by many: “Look how few people we are and how much we’re doing. Just imagine what a whole island could do…”

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

VIDEO: Montgomery County Conservation Corps profiled in local news segment

Montgomery County Conservation Corps profiled by Montgomery County Cable for their work helping local youth further their education and gain job skills. See the original video post here

Photos of the Month: April 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 April 2015. 


Civic Works - helping clean up following riots in Baltimore

Arizona Conservation Corps 

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps 

Canyon Country Youth Corps


Earth Conservation Corps 

Southwest Conservation Corps - Arizona Conservation Corps


LA Conservation Corps 

Southeast Conservation Corps


Earth Conservation Corps - Dr. Jane Goodall visits ECC for Earth Day 

Heart of Oregon Corps 

Washington Conservation Corps 

Texas Conservation Corps 

Montana Conservation Corps 

Southwest Conservation Corps

Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa

A Visit with Virginia Service and Conservation Corps

On Wednesday, March 30th, staff from The Corps Network travelled to Mason Neck State Park in Lorton, VA to visit Corpsmembers with the Virginia Service and Conservation Corps. In preparation for the busy summer season, the crew was rebuilding a section of boardwalk over a marshy area along the Potomac River. A quiet park located on a peninsula, Mason Neck is known for its significant population of nesting bald eagles.

We met with Jamie, Alyssa and George: three AmeriCorps members from a four-person crew. Jamie, who is originally from Wisconsin, previously served with Utah Conservation Corps. Alyssa came to Virginia after learning about AmeriCorps through a post-college internship with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper in upstate New York. George, who is originally from California, joined the Corps as a break from a tiring schedule that involved attending college full-time, volunteering as an EMT and working at a Mexican bakery.

Primarily based out of Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge, VA, the crew has served at a number of locations throughout northeast Virginia. Occasionally they meet with Corpsmembers based out of other parts of the state for large-scale prescribed burns or tree planting projects. While Alyssa is new to the Corps, both Jamie and George have wild land firefighter certifications and are working on getting certified in pesticide application. Jamie and George also recently took part in a nighttime search-and-rescue training.

Now that the weather is getting nicer, the crew serves about 45 hours a week. Most of their projects involve routine park maintenance. Usually a ranger or maintenance employee helps them get started on a project and then lets them take the lead.

The crew will serve together until August, marking the end of George and Jamie’s 1,700-hour term and Alyssa’s 300-hour term. Following the completion of her service, Jamie plans to use her AmeriCorps Education Award to get certified as a Wilderness First Responder. She misses the backcountry of Utah and hopes to move out West to find a job where she can utilize her college degree in biology and ecology. When George finishes his term, he plans to join AmeriCorps NCCC through their Sacramento campus and use his Education Award to complete college. Alyssa, who just started her term of service, isn’t sure what she wants to do at the end of the summer. For now she’s happy to be learning new skills and working outdoors.

Alyssa working on the boardwalk.

Blog Slideshow: 

Photos of the Month: March 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 March 2015.


Earth Conservation Corps 

Texas Conservation Corps 

Washington Conservation Corps 

Washington Conservation Corps - Swiftwater Rescue Training


Canyon Country Youth Corps 

Maine Conservation Corps 

Greater Miami Service Corps 
Secretary Jewell; City of Miami Mayor Regalado; GMSC Corpsmembers; Deborah Dorsett, Director and Alton Andrews, Team Supervisor.

Los Angeles Conservation Corps - Marie Walker, Vice President of The Corps Network, with LACC Corpsmembers and actor Joe Morton

Arizona Conservation Corps 


Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia 

Montana Conservation Corps 

Mile High Youth Corps 

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps




The Corps Network in Hollywood: The Serve A Year Campaign Launch Event

On Monday – March 23, 2015 – The Corps Network participated in the launch event of ServiceNation’s Serve A Year campaign at the Jimmy Kimmel Live! studio in Los Angeles, CA.

Background Info:

Announced in the fall of 2014 at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, Serve A Year is a campaign to unite national service organizations with some of the most influential voices in entertainment, business and technology in an effort to inspire young Americans to serve their country. The goal is that people will one day ask each other “where did you serve?” – similar to how we now ask each other “where did you go to college?”

To make national service a more prominent part of the American way of life, Serve A Year is focused on integrating national service into popular culture with the help of script writers, television and movie producers, celebrities, viral video stars and influential businesses. The campaign has already experienced success; AmeriCorps has been mentioned or written into the plotlines of popular TV shows including Parks & Recreation, True Detective, Melissa & Joey, and The Middle.  

Serve A Year is supported by innovative companies, including Airbnb, Tumblr, Comcast and NBCUniversal, as well as 18 of the country’s leading national service organizations. Along with YouthBuild USA, The Corps Network represents the Opportunity Youth pillar of the campaign, championing the idea that participating in national service can be a transformative experience for disconnected young people. 

The Launch Event:

Hosted at the Jimmy Kimmel Live! studio in Los Angeles, CA, the launch of the Serve A Year campaign included appearances by Jimmy Kimmel and Chelsea Clinton;  audience members included over 200 Hollywood executives, writers and producers, and senior corporate executives. The Corps Network was represented at the event by Marie Walker, Vice President of The Corps Network; Bruce Saito, Executive Director Emeritus of Los Angeles Conservation Corps (LACC) and a member of TCN’s Board of Directors; and several current and former LACC Corpsmembers. Kendrick Collins, an alumni of LACC, was one of three Corpsmembers to speak during the event about his national service experience.

After the launch event, Marie Walker and Kendrick Collins visited the studio’s green room to watch the filming of that evening’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! During the taping, Jimmy Kimmel interviewed Chelsea Clinton about Serve A Year and the duo released a PSA about the campaign. 

Blog Slideshow: