A Corpsmember's Roman Holiday

This story originally appeared in LA Conservation Corps' E-Newsletter

Brian Langston, one of our outstanding corpsmembers who currently works in our Administrative Offices as an IT assistant, recently had the trip of a lifetime. He traveled to Rome, Italy in March for two weeks to run the Rome Marathon and to take in the sights of this historic city.

How did this come about, you ask? Well, it happened by chance, really. While attending Los Angeles Trade Technical College, a surprise speaker by the name of Judge Craig Mitchell came to Brian's class to talk about his difficult beginnings. He chronicled how he overcame the challenges of homelessness and illiteracy to become a school teacher, and then Los Angeles County Superior Court judge. Having a similar background, Brian was inspired by Judge Mitchell's story, and stepped outside of his comfort zone to speak up and ask the judge if they could keep in contact. To this request, Judge Mitchell invited Brian to join the Midnight Mission Running Club that he leads each week.

The rest, as they say, is history. Just by reaching out to a potential mentor for guidance, Brian went from running casually with the group on Skid Row, to running in the 2014 LA Marathon, to running in this year's Rome Marathon. Brian says that he's inspired by all of the generous supporters of his journey, and continues on because he wants to show his supporters that investing in him was worthwhile.

As for his time in Rome, Brian says "it was a dream" and that taking this trip made him realize the importance of coming back to Los Angeles to "do better in life." He also remarked that taking this trip across the pond showed him that world is much bigger than he originally thought. It opened his mind to more things that he wants to do.

Brian hopes to inspire other young people to get involved with the running group, and to help them take advantage of the same life-changing opportunities that made such a wonderful difference in his life.

We look forward to great things from Brian in the future!

To learn more about Judge Mitchell and his running club, check out these links:

Skid Row Marathon
NPR Story: From Skid Row to Rome
LA Weekly Article: Ex-Addicts Head for Rome Marathon

Boiler Plate: 
Brian Langston, a LA Conservation Corps Alum, recently had the trip of a lifetime. He traveled to Rome, Italy in March for two weeks to run the Rome Marathon and to take in the sights of this historic city. How did this come about, you ask? Well, it happened by chance, really.

California Conservation Corps Helps with Oil Spill Cleanup

Story provided by the California Conservation Corps

Members of the California Conservation Corps continue their work this work cleaning up the beaches in Santa Barbara County, site of last week's pipeline spill.

The CCC crew is working under the direction of the state Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response and has been trained in hazardous material and oil spill cleanup procedures. The corpsmembers are working 12-hour days.

The CCC's work is expected to continue for several weeks.

Boiler Plate: 
Members of the California Conservation Corps continue their work this work cleaning up the beaches in Santa Barbara County, site of last week's pipeline spill.

The Corps Cooperative Adds 3 New Corporate Partners

UPS, JiffyLube, and Shell have all recently made agreements with The Corps Cooperative that will help provide members of The Corps Network and Corpsmembers with access to discounted services. 

Formally announced in March, The Corps Cooperative, or "Corps Coop," is a Group Purchasing Organization that is available as a member benefit to all members and affiliates of The Corps Network.

Conservation United, ADP Payroll Services, and Enterprise Fleet Management are the other companies currently offering discounted services through The Corps Coop, with many other companies expected to agree to partner soon. 

Under the new agreements, the following discounted services will be offered:



UPS – United Parcel Services (UPS) has created a specific discount for each TCN member! All you have to do is join TCC to get your discount code. Discounted mailing rates range from 25-50%!

 



Jiffy Lube – Corps Coop members, as well as their staff and Corpsmembers, will be able to get a 15% discount off of ALL Jiffy Lube car maintenance services including oil changes, tire alignment and rotation, and battery maintenance and replacement.  Join TCC to get your code to start saving today!



Shell– Shell will offer a discount on fuel to Corps Coop Members who utilize a fleet of 10 or more vehicles and will additionally provide maintenance packages through Jiffy Lube with very steep discounts.

 


Members and affiliates of The Corps Network can sign-up to participate in The Corps Coop for free on the Corps Cooperative website. 

For additional information please contact Rob Spath, CEO of The Corps Coop at rob@thecorpscoop.org or by calling 520-904-2938.

Boiler Plate: 
UPS, JiffyLube, and Shell have all recently made agreements with The Corps Cooperative that will help provide members of The Corps Network and Corpsmembers with access to discounted services. Formally announced in March, The Corps Cooperative, or "Corps Coop," is a Group Purchasing Organization that is available as a member benefit to all members and affiliates of The Corps Network.

Texas Conservation Corps Sends AmeriCorps Crew to Assist with Tornado Relief

 

The AmeriCorps crew pauses for a photo prior to deployment.

From the Texas Conservation Corps

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Volunteers will help the community in response to the recent EF-3 tornado

Austin, TX, May 13, 2015 – Tomorrow at 8AM, volunteers from the Texas Conservation Corps (TxCC) at American YouthWorks (AYW) will deploy to the community of Van, Texas in response to the recent tornado. 

The EF-3 tornado hit on Sunday, May 10th and reportedly impacted an area 700 yards wide along a nine-mile swath. More than 100 buildings and 30% of the city were damaged with over 40 people injured and two deaths. In response to the recent, severe storms, Governor Abbott has declared a disaster for Bosque, Clay, Denton, Eastland, Gaines, Montague, and Van Zandt counties.

TxCC is a program of AYW which has AmeriCorps volunteers on call to respond to disasters in the state of Texas and across the United States. This service is made possible through a grant from Texas' One Star Foundation. Members will deploy May 14th and will arrive in Van, Texas that same day. The team will set up a volunteer reception center which will register volunteers and assign them to help to locals affected by the disaster.  Also, the TxCC members will support the multi-agency resource center which provides help to the agencies that have come together to serve the members of the Van community. TxCC AmeriCorps members will also serve in a direct capacity, helping to remove debris, managing donations, and otherwise assisting residents.

With TxCC's help, the volunteer reception center is scheduled to open this weekend. Those who are interested in volunteering or donating to the affected community should visit VolunteerTX.org to learn more and register.

About American YouthWorks and Texas Conservation Corps

AYW provides young people with opportunities to build careers, strengthen communities, and improve the environment through education, on-the-job training, and service to others. TxCC is an AmeriCorps service program at AYW, which, for nearly 20 years, has focused on developing leaders in conservation and emergency management and provided critical support to improve parks and preserves.

Each year the program engages over 100 diverse youth and young adults  in critical, hands-on conservation and disaster service projects, giving participants the skills and opportunities to solve real life community and environmental problems. From right here in Austin to the Alaskan bush, TxCC has served thousands of individuals in disasters and helped numerous communities recover. The program has responded to disasters such as the Central Texas Wildfires, the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, the floods in east Austin, and Hurricane Sandy.

Boiler Plate: 
Volunteers from the Texas Conservation Corps (TxCC) at American YouthWorks (AYW) are deploying to the community of Van, Texas in response to the recent tornado. The EF-3 tornado hit on Sunday, May 10th and reportedly impacted an area 700 yards wide along a nine-mile swath. More than 100 buildings and 30% of the city were damaged with over 40 people injured and two deaths. In response to the recent, severe storms, Governor Abbott has declared a disaster for Bosque, Clay, Denton, Eastland, Gaines, Montague, and Van Zandt counties.

[Photos] Youth Conservation Corps on Earth Day 2015

On Earth Day, members of Youth Conservation Corps helped prepare some raised garden beds. Photos below!

How Service and Conservation Corps Celebrated Earth Day in 2015

Corpsmembers enrolled in Service and Conservation Corps help protect the Earth and its wonders on a daily basis through their service.

Earth Day always provides a great additional opportunity to promote the benefits, goals, and fun of spending time outdoors and in nature.

Below you can discover the numerous ways that Corps programs served the Earth this year and gained attention for their work. For instance, 2 mayors of major cities spent time with Corps! One Corps also participated in a Google Hangout for Earth Day with the Clinton Global Initiative. 

Boiler Plate: 
Discover the numerous ways that Corps programs served the Earth this year and gained attention for their work. For instance, 2 mayors of major cities spent time with Corps! One Corps also participated in a Google Hangout for Earth Day with the Clinton Global Initiative.

7 Questions with Gina Carroll

This article is part of a new series of interviews with Corps Staff members.

Gina Carroll is the Director of Conservation Programming for Kupu, operators of the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps. She talks about her experience working at the Corps, the challenges faced by Hawaii's youth, and Kupu's culture of being pono.


1. What are some of the projects that your Corps is working on right now that excite you the most?

The Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps is 1 of 4 major programs within Kupu. Currently we are working to provide Community U, a program designed for disconnected young adults, program structure and long-term funding. 21st Century Conservation Service Corps projects in the Hawaii Volcano National Park and the Haleakala National Park give Kupu the opportunity to increase our reach into the middle schools to improve awareness of the National Park System in their own neighborhood.

2. What kinds of careers are typically available in your neck of the woods for Corpsmembers?

Careers range from food service, tourism, construction, volunteer coordinators, wildlife technicians, field technicians, park directors and program coordinators. In the past 2 years, we were able to bring on 6 of our own Corpsmembers into staff positions.    

3. What are some of the most typical problems you face when working with Corpsmembers, and how do you solve them?

Many of our members have little to no family support. They often lack motivation and direction and many are without any sense of work ethic. Poor attendance, chronic tardiness, and poor communication skills are all common issues. I’m not sure we ever solve the problem, however we do try to reduce the barriers or excuses. Asking why they are chronically late will probably evoke an excuse. Asking what is going on at home that is making them chronically late will evoke an answer that is closer to the truth. We do our best to set them up for success by eliminating as much of the barriers/excuses as possible. When problems persist, there might be a ‘special’ barrier they need assistance in removing. 

4. What’s something about your organizational culture that you are proud of and something you want to improve?

Kupu culture prides itself on being pono. Pono is the Hawaiian word for righteous, upright and moral. We teach this value formally through orientations and trainings, and informally through the way we conduct ourselves day to day. Pono is the guidance we use when there is no clear rule, it’s the unspoken guide, ‘is this right?’ ‘Did we decided correctly on this?’ I hope that when it is all said and done, and the job is complete, people can say Kupu did the right thing.

One thing I’d like to improve? I’d like some time to find ways to best support our staff in their own personal development. They spend so much time and intentional energy into creating amazing programs each year that to me, change lives. Their efforts touch the lives of hundreds of members each year that ultimately create a stronger community. There are not enough ways to let them know how much they are appreciated and how much better our future will be because of them.

5. What’s your favorite kind of terrain and why (Beach, mountain, forest, lake, tundra, etc…)?

I honestly cannot say I have a favorite terrain because growing up in Hawaii, these parts of home all have a purpose in balancing my life. However, my most recent epic field experience is on the slopes of Haleakala on the island of Mau’i. Being flown in (and out) by helicopter to the 5,000 ft. elevation of this dormant volcano was breathtaking. Our team worked in this area for 5 days at a time alongside amazing trees that were 100s of years old. Planting native seedlings on a 30-40% grade, in 50 degree cloud cover with a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean is my newly experienced terrain. Why? Besides the obvious beauty of the landscape, working in the mist and gazing across the ocean toward the snow capped mountains of the neighboring island brings more than dew to your brow. The work will bring tears to your eyes and peace in your heart knowing that you have just planted your contribution to a future you will probably never see.

6. What’s something accessible to the masses (a movie, tv show, song, book, event) that has inspired or influenced you recently?

“If you’re out there” by John Legend. ... be the change we want to see. I am also inspired by the many video clips on YouTube and photos on Instagram created by our members that remind me of the importance of what we do.

7. What’s one of the best pieces of advice a mentor has given you?  

There is a plan and purpose for your life. Be intentional and don’t give up until you know you found it.


Previous Interviews in this Series

Michael Muckle of the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg

Boiler Plate: 
This article is part of a new series of interviews with Corps Staff members. Gina Carroll is the Director of Conservation Programming for Kupu, operators of the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps. She talks about his experience working at the Corps, the challenges faced by Hawaii's youth, and Kupu's culture of being pono.

Governor Jerry Brown Visits California Conservation Corps Headquarters

Story and photos provided by the California Conservation Corps 

California Governor Jerry Brown spent time away from his Capitol office in Sacramento a few weeks back to visit the California Conservation Corps' statewide headquarters. Brown had a chance to meet with staff and also field questions from several dozen corpsmembers in attendance.

Questions ranged from drought relief to the governor's vision in founding the CCC during his first term in 1976.

This was Gov. Brown's second visit to the CCC headquarters in the last few years.

Boiler Plate: 
California Governor Jerry Brown spent time away from his Capitol office in Sacramento a few weeks back to visit the California Conservation Corps' statewide headquarters. Brown had a chance to meet with staff and also field questions from several dozen corpsmembers in attendance.

7 Questions with Michael Muckle

This week is the inaugural article in a new series of interviews with Corps Staff members.

Michael Muckle is the Director of the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg and talks about his experience working at the Corps, advice from mentors, and what inspires him.

 


1. What are some of the projects that your Corps is working on right now that excite you the most?

There's a few things here in New Jersey that we're currently working on that I'm excited about:  

a. Our upcoming HOPE project at the Gateway National Recreation Area @Sandy Hook is something that I'm really anticipating because it will give our Corpsmembers such a unique opportunity to learn preservation craft skills while rehabilitating a historic building in a really beautiful setting.  

b. The second project I'm excited about is developing a partnership with the American Conservation Experience (ACE) to put our Waders in the Water trained Corpsmembers to work here in New Jersey.  ACE has taken the lead on some riparian restoration projects in the mitigation banking arena here in the state and we look to partner with them to place our Youth Corps WitW Level 1 Corpsmembers on site with them.  

c. The third ‘project’ I'm excited about is helping the state of New Jersey develop its implementation plan for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  We believe that WIOA will enable us to implement new ideas and programmatic strategies on a local level to expand and lengthen the services to our Corpsmember participants – who are requiring more effort and more time to achieve certain goals within Youth Corps. It’s an opportunity to amend our programs with opportunity to increase the quality of service for the next decade…maybe longer. That’s exciting.  

2. What kinds of careers are typically available in your neck of the woods for Corpsmembers?

Jobs usually available for our Corpsmembers are found in retail, foodservice and warehouse work given our rural location here in New Jersey. Other typical placements are entering into Community College, or directly into military service.    

Here at our program we're trying to change the mindset of Corpsmembers by offering them unique service opportunities that shadow careers within the field of public service. In doing so, we hope to reveal what’s possible to the Corpsmembers by introducing them to people in the field that have themselves blazed an unconventional career pathway. That one-on-one interaction is essential to the building of confidence and gaining of trust on behalf of the Corpsmember.  When they see that others like themselves can achieve, they buy into the idea and start to believe.        

3. What are some of the most typical problems you face when working with Corpsmembers, and how do you solve them?

I thought hard about this question. ‘Typical’ problems working in Youth Corps, as most readers might guess, are anything but typical. On any given day, we encounter myriad problems ranging from the relatively benign like punctuality and attendance to the more serious and detrimental behavioral issues -  drug addiction, sexual abuse, gang involvement, etc. The stories of our Corpsmembers are as dramatic as they are varied. We approach all these issues from a position of patience and understanding while utilizing our entire staff in addressing an individuals’ needs. We’re all about second chances. It is challenging, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. It’s particularly satisfying when a young adult has an epiphany about his or her life and then decides on an action of assuming responsibility for their future. It’s all worth it in the end!

4. What’s something about your organizational culture that you are proud of and something you want to improve?

There are two things in particular I’m proud of relative to the organizational culture here at the Phillipsburg Youth Corps. First, I’m proud of the legacy of service this program has provided to this community. Our seventeen years here haven’t been easy. We’ve had ups and downs, but we’ve had a lot of help from a lot of people. I think that we've become an essential part of this community here in Phillipsburg and Warren County. We’re very proud of that.

The second would be the level of commitment and passion for the youth we serve on behalf of my staff. Their hard work and determination are so inspiring! They have a familial approach in everything they do, are wonderful mentors to the young adults they work with and are the most patient people I know. They propel me to want to do better…for them and our youth.

Something I would like to improve is to become more effective with communication; things develop and change so quickly over the course of a day sometimes, and it is difficult to be able to keep pace and inform everyone about those developments. Getting your message out to the right people is so essential to finding partners that support your program as well as identifying the youth we serve, and with so many systems to do so (i.e. Social media, websites, newsletters, etc.), your message can get muddled in the medium you choose. I’d look to improve upon that.

5. What’s your favorite kind of terrain and why (Beach, mountain, forest, lake, tundra, etc…)?

This is an interesting question, but I'm going to answer it like a politician, so I apologize beforehand. I just love the natural world. I can’t pick one type of terrain or environment over another because I feel just as comfortable down the shore as I feel up in the mountains. I have a deep fascination and appreciation of both and everything in between, which by the way, is why I love New Jersey. I’m originally from Connecticut and I had the impression that most people who travel through New Jersey are only familiar with;  the industrial I-95/Route 1/NJ Turnpike corridor.  But the best of New Jersey is just beyond all that you can see when you’re barreling down the NJ Turnpike. New Jersey has it all. Mountains, forests, farms, beaches...it’s perfect.

6. What’s something accessible to the masses (a movie, tv show, song, book, event) that has inspired or influenced you recently?

Anyone who knows me knows that this is almost impossible for me to answer efficiently or succinctly, but I’ll try. One is a song, and it’s not even a new song, but Ben Harper’s “With My Own Two Hands” from 2003 is a personal anthem of mine. One of my former students turned me on to it, and from first listen, it spoke to me. It embodies an ethos of service with an infectious reggae hook. It reminds me why I joined AmeriCorps in the first place in 1998 and cements my resolve as I continue to serve alongside our Corpsmembers. Good stuff.

The second is a book I’m just getting into by Robert Putnam called “Our Kids: the American Dream in Crisis.” It’s a study on the growing inequalities in America and how it is affecting our youth.  I’m hoping it might open my eyes to something so it can foster a constructive conversation among our youth. It is interesting so far.  

7. What’s one of the best pieces of advice a mentor has given you?  

One thing the person who had my job before me said as they pulled me aside while walking out the door for the last time was “Seek balance, Mike. You’ve got to seek balance in all you do.” That has stayed with me ever since. It was a tough time of transition for me, both personally and professionally. I was working long hours, so I understood where the advice was coming from, but still I didn't heed it. It took a few years to fully comprehend and implement that philosophy, and I still struggle most days - but putting emphasis on the things that bring me the most satisfaction - my wife, my daughter and our family - has helped me.


 

Boiler Plate: 
This week is the inaugural article in a new series of interviews with Corps Staff members. Michael Muckle is the Director of the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg and talks about his experience working at the Corps, advice from mentors, and what inspires him.

15 Inspirational Quotes for Earth Day (or Any Day)

Earth Day is a great time to take action and reflect upon the wonders of nature. Here are some quotes to inspire you on Earth Day and beyond!


"It is an incalculable added pleasure to any one's sum of happiness if he or she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature." 
Theodore Roosevelt


Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. 

Rachel Carson


"Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's Party!" 

— Robin Williams


"My experience with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and my crew taught me to be patient, to laugh at things, especially when things go completely opposite of how I thought they would go, to work hard and to treat the environment and myself in the best way. I learned about the amazing beauty and stillness of nature, and the physical work it takes to preserve such wonder. I learned the value of preservation and trail work needed to protect the environment that offers us so much. I pushed myself farther than I thought I could ever go. Through this environmental and team service work, I, like many in my crew, found myself." 

— Gracie Billingsley, a Corps Network 2015 Corpsmember of the Year


"Na wai ke kupu o ʻoe?

Meaning whose sprout are you? This is a question I hold dear to my heart, because in order for the seedling to become the tree it must sprout and break out of the ground first. And for me personally I felt like Kupu really watered, sheltered, and encouraged me out of the ground and to drink in the sunlight. Now it’s up to me to grow to be that big koa tree. And with this question you should be asking yourself, who helped you sprout and how can you pass that on to change someone else’s life by encouraging their breakthrough of the lepo or the dirt." 

— Jon Brito, a Corps Network 2014 Corpsmember of the Year


"A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children."

— John James Audobon
 


"Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven't done a thing. You are just talking."

— Wangari Maathai


"To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from."

— Terry Tempest Williams


"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls."

— Edward Abbey


"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."

— John Muir


“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect.”

— Chief Seattle


I left the luxuries of life behind for a simple life. The cell phone was traded for envelopes and stamps. My motorcycle was replaced by a pair of hiking boots. I never imagined myself bathing in a creek or climbing a peak. I worked on mountain ridges during thunderstorms, near soothing creeks, at the world famous Yosemite Falls and throughout Northern California Wilderness. The work was intense and strenuous, and the days were long. I slept on the ground and under the stars. All the sights, sounds and smells will never be forgotten, because pictures and stories will never do justice to what I’ve experienced. Yet the biggest impact was that of my crew. We were an extremely diverse yet close knit crew of twelve. We worked, ate, hiked, relaxed, played, lived and grew together. I made friends for life. Despite five months of arduous labor my impact on the Wilderness is truly insignificant. Rain, snowfall or an earthquake can undo everything I’ve made, dug and cleaned this summer. But my influence on my crewmates and theirs on me will never be washed away.  

— Rosalio Cardenas, a 2007 Corpsmember of the Year


Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk. The rain makes running pools in the gutter. The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night. And I love the rain. 

— Langston Hughes


You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.

— Edward O Wilson




"Many of us ask what can I, as one person, do, but history shows us that everything good and bad starts because somebody does something or does not do something."

— Sylvia Earle


 

Boiler Plate: 
Earth Day is a great time to take action and reflect upon the wonders of nature. Here are some quotes to inspire you on Earth Day and beyond!

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