Public Lands Service Corps Act Introduced in U.S. Senate

From the Office of U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich

Senators Launch Effort to Employ Youth Restoring Public Lands

Friday, February 15, 2013

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich today reintroduced legislation to expand job training and educational opportunities for youth, while helping repair and restore the country's public lands. 

The Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013 improves on the existing Public Lands Corps by expanding the scope of projects to reflect new challenges. It would also add incentives to attract new participants, including Native Americans and veterans, that suffer from disproportionately high rates of unemployment.

“As many of our public land managers retire, we have the opportunity to create a new generation of conservation leaders to protect the lands and natural environment that make New Mexico so spectacular," said Udall. "Passing this legislation would also help combat the unacceptably high unemployment young people face by providing them with job training, education and skills they can utilize long into their careers.”

“Strengthening the Public Lands Corps program will continue to provide rewarding opportunities for young adults who want to work to preserve our water and public lands, such as our rivers and lakes, national parks and forests, and tribal lands. This bill is also particularly significant for tribal families in New Mexico because it establishes the Indian Youth Service Corps where young adults can work to preserve their tribal lands and strengthen their communities. As a former AmeriCorps volunteer myself, I spent the better part of a year doing construction, education, and fieldwork for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and I know first-hand that these programs are essential to improve the lives of those around us,” said Heinrich.

Currently, several agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service work with national nonprofit organizations and more than 100 service corps to hire and train young people to build trails, perform maintenance, and assist with conservation projects. 

An array of local, regional and national organizations support expanding the Public Lands Corps Act, including the National Parks Conservation Association, the Sierra Club, the National Education Association and the Public Lands Service Coalition, which includes the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in New Mexico.

"Senators Udall and Heinrich understand the positive impacts that come from linking community service with environmental stewardship," said Carl Colonius, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Taos, New Mexico. “I thank them for introducing the Public Lands Service Corps Act and inspiring young people in New Mexico and across the country to revitalize communities, preserve and restore the environment, prepare for responsible, productive lives and build civic spirit through service."

Specifically the senators' bill would do the following:

  • Amend the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 to raise the priority of service corps in the Interior and Agriculture Departments (including such agencies as the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service);
  • Establish an Indian Youth Service Corps so that Indian Tribes can start corps programs to carry out priority projects on Tribal lands, which Udall has worked to include in legislation since 2009;
  • Authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Department of Commerce to participate in the program, which would allow Corps members to work on restoring coastal and marine ecosystems;
  • Provides for establishing residential conservation centers to house and train corps participants;
  • Expand the scope of eligible projects to include working with agency professionals on activities including historical, scientific and cultural research, visitor services, and interpretation;
  • Allow agencies to provide noncompetitive hiring status for Corps participants for two years after completing service. Current law allows such status for only 120 days; and
  • Expand the age range for the program is to youth aged 15 to 25, and participants may serve either in crews or as individuals.

The legislation was also introduced by Sen. Udall and retired Sen. Jeff Bingaman during the 112th Congress and it cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The new Senate legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.).

Tweets about The Corps Network 2013 National Conference

Last week, Twitter was aflutter with commentary about The Corps Network 2013 National Conference. We took screen shots of some of the best tweets and have aggregated them for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!


Support Our 2013 Corpsmember of the Year Giving Campaign!

*** January 23 Update ***

In the final week of our Corpsmember of the Year Giving Campaign, we'd like you to meet Jesse and Luis! Previews of their stories are below. As of 1/23/13, we have raised $415 to support the Corpsmembers attendance at the National Conference. Thank you to those of you who have generously contributed!

We are also pleased to announce that we were selected as a finalist in the JobRaising Challenge, a fundraising and blogging competition "among nonprofits committed to ending the jobs crisis in America." The competition is sponsored by The Huffington Post, the Skoll Foundation, and Crowdrise. The organization that raises the most money “wins” an additional $250,000.

Because of the timing of this fabulous opportunity, we have decided to roll the Corpsmember of the Year Giving Campaign into meeting that larger goal. We hope you will consider donating to our campaign or spreading word of our participation in the competition. You can note on your donation that it is in honor of the Corpsmembers of the Year.

With huge thanks to 2013 Corpsmembers of the Year: Jesse, Luis, Sarah, Brandon, Raghda, and Alex. We are excited to have you all join us at our National Conference in Washington D.C. this February, and honor your significant accomplishments! You and the other Corpsmembers nationwide are the reason we do what we do, and we thank you for sharing your stories of triumph with us.

*** January 16th Update ***

As part of our continuing campaign to introduce our 2013 Corpsmembers of the Year, this week we would like to introduce you to Sarah and Brandon.

To help defer the costs of their experience in Washington DC, this year we are asking for your help. As you may recall, our goal is to raise $1800 by January 31st and we've got a long way to go! Thank you for considering a donation and for sharing Sarah and Brandon's stories with others.

We thank you for your support.


For over 25 years The Corps Network has been working to support our network of members and the youth they serve through programming that focuses on helping Corpsmembers develop job skills and work experience, further their educational credentials, and develop leadership skills in service to their communities. More simply, our mission is to promote the growth, quality, and sustainability of Corps. We believe that in this time of economic hardship and recovery that well-funded, high-quality Corps are needed more than ever.

Each year over 30,000 young people join Corps with hopes of improving their own lives and the communities they live in. We bring 6 young people to our National Conference in February as “Corpsmembers of the Year.” Their achievements and service merit special commendation. As part of their experience in Washington D.C., Corpsmembers of the Year often get to meet their members of Congress and serve as our most valuable spokespeople.

To help defer the costs of this important experience, this year we are asking for your help. It costs us approximately $1800 to bring each person to Washington D.C. and pay for their meals, lodging, and airfare. With that goal in mind, we would like to raise $1800 by January 31st. For the next 3 weeks, we plan to send out 2 stories each week about our Corpsmembers of the Year to show you just how special they are, and how your support helps us work to support Corps. Each week we are going to send out updates to show how much closer we have come to achieving our goal. After reading the stories, we hope you will consider making a donation to The Corps Network in support of their experience. We thank you for your support.


Jesse Roehm
Mile High Youth Corps

Jesse was looking for a fresh start after he graduated from Indiana University in May 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and international studies. He wanted to do AmeriCorps and he felt he needed to move away from Indiana in order to make real changes in his life.

The mountains of Colorado seemed like the ideal location to forge a new beginning.

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Luis Gaeta
Fresno Local Conservation Corps

Nineteen-year-old Luis Gaeta was working three part-time jobs, struggling to make ends meet in retail, as a referee, and in security. His car constantly broke down and his housing situation was unstable. He realized his lack of job skills and a high school diploma held him back from leading a more comfortable lifestyle.

Luis knew it was time to get serious when he and his girlfriend found out they were expecting their first child.

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Sarah Huff
California Conservation Corps

Sarah Huff wasn’t looking for a job when she attended a California Conservation Corps (CCC) orientation in 2011. Lacking her driver’s license, living with her parents, and unable to declare a major after three semesters of college, Sarah thought she might find direction if she tried something new.

Little did she know she would soon discover her calling in conservation.

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Brandon Penny

During his third week with Civicorps Learning Academy, Brandon Penny wrote a poem in which he stated, “Just because I don’t have my high school diploma doesn’t mean I am not smart.”

This stanza encapsulates Brandon’s journey and his humble nature.

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Raghda Raphael
Urban Corps of San Diego

Raghda Raphael’s story is one of triumph over tragedy.

She and her family emigrated from Iraq to the United States in 2010. Though Raghda came to America as a refugee, her life in Baghdad had once been filled with happiness. As a child, she received good grades in school, had many friends, and lived comfortably with her family in her grandfather’s big house.

Unfortunately, things changed once the initial hopefulness following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein faded and insurgents took power. Raghda was soon surrounded by the threat of car bombs, roadside bombs, and assassinations.

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Alex Hreha
Coconino Rural Environment Corps

Alex Hreha was a teenager in need of direction. He describes himself as having been overweight, under-motivated, and lacking self-confidence.

All of this changed, however, when he joined the Coconino Rural Environment Corps (CREC) in 2010.

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Orange County Conservation Corps Helps Staff Veterans Day Event and Meet Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez

Corps Members (middle row, left to right) Andrew Aguirre, Michael Ramirez, Jordan Ramirez, (front row) Marlene Villegas Gonzalez, Julian Gonzalez and (not pictured) Myriah Vasquez met Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (front row, center) and many supportive veterans.

From Orange County Conservation Corps

Veterans continue to be an inspiration at home. Six of our Corps Members volunteered at the Veterans Day Flag Raising Ceremony and Job Fair in Santa Ana on November 8 and were honored to meet many service men and women, as well as Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and Mayor Miguel Pulido of Santa Ana.

Our Corps Members helped set up for the event, control traffic and clean up afterwards, which kept them pretty busy throughout the day. Still, they had time to explore the booths and meet employers, exposing them to possibilities they might not have otherwise known about. They got a much better idea of what options there are specifically for veterans.

As far as their experience with the veterans attending the event: "They were amazed that there were so many people giving them support," said Program Specialist Ralph Jimenez. As Corps Members thanked veterans for their service, the veterans encouraged the Corps Members to continue their education and be loyal to themselves and their country. By the end of the day, veterans sought out Corps Members to see if they had any more questions.

150 Corpsmembers Join in California Conservation Corps Flood Exercise

Photo Credit: Conner Jay/Daily Republic

Members of the California Conservation Corps, including one crew from each center throughout the state, participated in a large-scale flood readiness exercise in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta this week.  The Delta levees have experienced flooding and levee breaks many times over the years, so the Twitchell Island exercise provided corpsmembers with a realistic site for sharpening their skills.

The exercise included proper methods for filling and passing sandbags, construction of sandbag walls, protection of levees from wave-wash erosion and "boils," or seepage through the levee.

Every CCC crew is trained in floodfighting techniques by mid-December, and can be dispatched where needed during to assist state agencies and local communities during winter storms and floods.

Read more about the exercise and see additional photos at the Fairfield Daily Republic website.

Support The Corps Movement in America– Donate Today!

As the national association of Service and Conservation Corps, our mission is “to promote the growth, quality, and sustainability of Corps.” 

December 4, 2012 

Dear Friends and Supporters of The Corps Network:
Although the economy continues to improve at a modest rate, many populations and sectors continue to be negatively impacted by the most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression. Youth unemployment remains at record levels, particularly for young people of color. The nation’s infrastructure, public lands, and natural resources have backlogged maintenance needs in the trillions. And state and local budgets have been cut to the point where they are unable to meet their obligations and the “well-being of citizens is threatened.”
Service and Conservation Corps provide a solution for addressing some of these critical problems. Based on the model of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which helped pull the nation out of the Great Depression in the 1930s, Service and Conservation Corps engage out-of-school and out-of-work youth and young adults in education and training while responding to national and community needs.
In 2012, more than 30,000 Corpsmembers built trails and campgrounds, planned and developed urban gardens and community green spaces, restored natural habitats and waterways, removed hazardous fuel and invasive species, weatherized and retrofitted home and buildings in low-income communities, fought forest fires and responded to natural disasters, while at the same time obtaining GEDs, high school diplomas, college credits, AmeriCorps Education Awards, industry-recognized certificates and jobs.
And we know that Corps work ~
For Corpsmembers: “If it wasn’t for the Corps I would NEVER have gone back to school.  They helped me understand the importance of education, they gave me job training and they gave me the chance to become a leader.  I don’t like to think where my life would be if I hadn’t joined the Corps.”  2005 Corpsmember of the Year, Urban Corps of San Diego

For Communities: “We’ve worked closely with Greater Miami Service Corps during the past two and half years and this partnership has been key to our department, and a win-win situation for us.  I can’t say enough about the value of this partnership.” Jorge Pena, Neighborhood Compliance Supervisor, Miami-Dade County
For Public Lands: I am extremely impressed with the crew’s attitude, work ethic, land ethic, and productivity. This experience has renewed my faith and interest in the caring for the land by a young group of adults. Working with the Corps has been one of the best experiences of my career, which spans 30 years!”  Jim Sparks, BLM
While we are proud of our Corps for the opportunities that they have provided to these 30,000 Corpsmembers, according to the White House Council on Community Solutions, more than six million young Americans between the ages of 16 and 25 are out-of-school and out-of work and are in need of similar opportunities.  
In 2012, The Corps Network had many notable accomplishments (read our detailed summary!). In the year ahead, we have ambitious plans for growing the Corps movement. We plan to:
·         Work with our federal land management agency partners to establish a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps to engage 100,000 young people in education, training, and meaningful work on our nation’s public lands.
·         Implement new and important provisions in the recently passed federal transit bill that will allow more Corpsmembers to work on transportation projects and gain entre into that industry.
·         Partner with experts in the field of education and workforce development to improve outcomes for Corpsmembers.
·         Promote the expansion of national and community service, particularly for Opportunity Youth and Environmental Stewards.
·         Implement an accreditation process that will promote a standard of excellence among all Corps.
You can help us make these plans a reality. As an important part of our national network, I hope that you will consider including The Corps Network in your charitable giving for 2012. By making a financial contribution to The Corps Network you can help us protect and develop our nation’s most precious resources – our youth, our communities and our lands. If you are interested in supporting us, you can contribute online directly through our website or you can send your tax-deductible donation to:
The Corps Network
Attn:  Lauren Hill, Director of Development
1100 G Street, NW Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005.
Thank you for your consideration.  May you enjoy a wonderful holiday season and new year!
Mary Ellen Ardouny
President and CEO
The Corps Network

Write Letters of Support for National Service Funding

From our partners at Save Service in America

National service enjoys strong support from many different sectors of American civic and economic life. Unfortunately, however, most elected officials are simply unaware that so many different constituencies are united in their support for service.

That is why Save Service in America, a campaign of Voices for National Service and ServiceNation, is circulating several letters of support and collecting signatures from key community leaders. It is crucial that we document the breadth of  support CNCS programs have earned, so we  are ready to share it with Washington decisionmakers when the budget  debates resume.

To show your support, sign on to a support letter today. If you have any questions, please contact us at or 202-742-7374. Find your constituency group on this page to be directed to the appropriate letter and full instructions.

Public Lands Service Coalition Holds a National Summit on 21st Century Conservation Service Corps

On November 15th, The Public Lands Service Coalition (PLSC) invited a wide range of public and private sector leaders to a National Summit on the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) in Washington, DC. Participants learned more about the 21CSC Federal Advisory Committee’s recommendations and also provided their input on implementation of the 21CSC.

PLSC members – Destry Jarvis, Harry Bruell, Mary Ellen Ardouny, Parc Smith and Scott Weaver – conducted a presentation on the background and capacity of Corps as well as key recommendations of the Federal Advisory Committee and an explanation of current "industry" efforts to implement a national accreditation process.

There were several additional speakers including Mary McCabe, a graduate of the Texas Conservation Corps (American YouthWorks), spoke about her experience serving in a Corps and how it is has affected her life.

Tim Harvey, Chief of the National Park Service (NPS) Park Facility Management Division, provided a presentation of the NPS’s efforts to increase the use of Corps to complete projects for the NPS.

Michael Gale, Director of the Department of The Interior (DOI) Office of Youth, Partnerships & Service, spoke about the DOI’s efforts to respond to the Committee’s report, manage the signing of an inter-fepartmental MOU to establish the 21CSC and the National Council, and coordinate an official launch of the 21CSC.

Merlene Mazyck, US Forest Service (USFS) Program Manager of Volunteers and Service, spoke about USFS’s efforts to support the 21CSC by expanding its partnerships with youth programs, supporting HistoriCorps projects and adding a youth employment focus to the USFS Youth Alliance.

The PLSC will continue to support the launch and implementation of the 21CSC as a bold national effort to put thousands of America’s young people and veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors!

Announcing The Corps Network's 2013 Award Winners

We received many excellent nominations this year for our Corpsmember of the Year, Project of the Year, and Legacy Achievement Awards. We thank all of those who applied and submitted nominations. Without further ado, those who will be honored at our upcoming 2013 National Conference include...

Legacy Achievement Award
Marilee Eckert
Ira Okun
John Irish
Projects of the Year
Flying Weed Warriors – LA Conservation Corps
POPS – Fresno Local Conservation Corps
Real Food Farm – Civic Works 
Corpsmembers of the Year
Jesse Roehm – Mile High Youth Corps
Alex Hreha – Coconino Rural Environment Corps
Luis Gaeta – Fresno Local Conservation Corps
Sarah Huff – California Conservation Corps
Raghda Raphael – Urban Corps of San Diego
Brandon Penny - Civicorps

Congratulations to all of the winners! We will look forward to sharing their stories over the coming weeks and months with you.

[Video] Fresno Local Conservation Corps Re-Entry Program Highlighted by Local News

Earlier this week several staff members from the Fresno Local Conservation Corps joined KSEE24 local news to talk about their re-entry program for formerly incarcerated youth. The program, much like The Corps Network's Civic Justice Corps Initiative aims to help youth who have been involved in the justice system to unlock their full potential and successfully become productive citizens in their communities.