Montana Conservation Corps Restores CCC Built Fish Hatchery

Local stone mason Jimmy Plovanik assists crew members with stone wall repair Tuesday. The seven-person MCC crew made much progress on the park at Big Springs Trout Hatchery this week.

This article was originally published by the Lewistown News-Argus.

Fish hatchery park gets make-over


The Montana Conservation Corps crew working on the fish hatchery make-over includes (from left) Timothy Gillispie, Helena; Eric Barr, MCC co-leader, Florida; Taggert Street, Helena; Sharanne Dement, Great Falls; Logan Callerg, Great Falls; Albert Leavell, MCC leader, Maryland; and Amanda Knorr, Helena.
Special to the News-Argus
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 11:01 AM MDT
Editor’s Note: This week, Montana Conservation Corps volunteers came to Lewistown to assist community members with the park at Big Springs Trout Hatchery. The volunteers did not just clean up the area; they also did some stonework and landscape work.

Having MCC do this work is fitting, Gies said, as it was the Civilian Conservation Corps that constructed the park in the first place.

Most of the park facilities at the Big Springs Trout Hatchery southeast of Lewistown were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in about 1936, almost eighty years ago.

The  CCC was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25.  Robert Fechner was the head of the agency. The program was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, and provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments.

Now, almost eight decades later, the Montana Conservation Corps is doing repair and renovation work at the fish hatchery park. The Montana Conservation Corps grew out of stories of men joining and serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps, stories that can be heard at coffee counters across Montana in places like the Empire Café. Tales of the accomplishments of the CCC to improve the landscape and the spirits of the young people who joined are numerous, and verging on mythical, in the best tradition of Montana.

This week, MCC workers are busy repairing the facilities built by the CCC. These MCC workers include five Montana high school students and two supervisors in their twenties. The supervisors work right along with the kids.

In two days the crew has accomplished much of the repair of rock work in the big pool, building trails and pulling weeds. They have two more days of work left. Local master stone mason Jimmy Plovanic has been right along side of this crew, showing them how to do the repair and renovation work on the stone walls. These walls are simply stacked stone, but of course, stacked in an aesthetic and lasting way. Jimmy has made a great contribution in sharing his expertise.

The project leader on the park renovation is Eric VanderBeek. Eric has been a strong leader, including working to obtain $14,000 in grant money for the project. Locals Brad McCardle, Lewistown trails manager, Clay Dunlap, retired educator, and Clint Loomis, retired educator and artist, have also worked hard on this project. All have spent countless hours on planning and implementing the project. Much credit on this project goes to Paul Pavlak a Lewistown resident who started the ball rolling on this park renovation.

Karl Gies is a member of the Big Spring Creek Watershed Association.


Boiler Plate: 
This week, Montana Conservation Corps volunteers came to Lewistown to assist community members with the park at Big Springs Trout Hatchery. The volunteers did not just clean up the area; they also did some stonework and landscape work.

Partnership between Trout Headwaters, Inc. and The Corps Network Featured in Newsletter of National Mitigation Banking Association


As written on its website, "The National Mitigation Banking Association brings together leaders who are committed to a unique concept for restoring and conserving America's wetlands, streams, and other habitat resources - a concept that unites sound economic and environmental practices." 

We are thankful that the NMBA recently chose to highlight our partnership with Trout Headwaters, Inc. on page 7 of their latest newsletter. The goal of the partnership is to train Corpsmembers to complete advanced aquatic restoration projects. The NMBA newsletter is sent to over 600 restoration companies in the US and abroad in addition to numerous federal, state, and local government policy, regulatory, and funding officials, so awareness of our joint initiative continues to grow. 

Delaware North Companies Announces Significant Commitment to HOPE Crews at Gettysburg Summit

This past week at the Aspen Institute's Gettysburg Summit on National Service, Delaware North Companies Principal, Jerry Jacobs Jr., in partnership with Stephanie Meeks, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced a $3 million commitment to additional HOPE Crew projects.

This announcement follows a successful HOPE Crew pilot project in Shenandoah National Park, where a crew from Harpers Ferry Job Corps in collaboration with Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia restored the historic Skyland Stables. The project was recently featured on PBS Newshour, and also according to HOPE Crew partners resulted in cost savings of 25% when compared to what it would have cost for the park to work with a traditional contractor to restore the Stables.

Most of the new Delaware North funded HOPE Crew projects will take place in Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Olympic, and Shenandoah National Parks.

"Delaware North Companies should be applauded for continuing to support the HOPE Crew initiative with such a substantial and meaningful commitment," said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network. "Combined with the other HOPE Crew projects that have recently occured and will also soon get under way in places including New Mexico, New Jersey, Montana, and Virginia, there is already significant proof that these partnerships yield cost-effective training for youth to gain historic preservation skills, while also getting meaningful projects done that Americans can appreciate."

[Video] HOPE Crew Partnership Featured on PBS Newshour

Earlier this week, PBS Newshour aired a segment about our new HOPE Crew Partnership with the Trust for Historic Preservation and many other partners. The five minute piece focuses on the historic stable project in Shenandoah National Park, that was recently completed by a Harpers Ferry Jobs Corps / Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia HOPE Crew. We think it's a great watch and encourage you to view it below.

Meet Our Summer Interns!

The Corps Network is pleased to announce the arrival of our summer interns! We are very excited that both Bobby and Judith have joined us to offer their help. Please join us in welcoming them, and read more about them below.

Bobby Tillett

Prior to interning at the Corps Network, Bobby completed two AmeriCorps terms-of-service working with the Montana Conservation Corps as both a Field Crew Member and a Field Crew Leader. The experiences and people Bobby met during his terms-of-service are the main inspiration behind his further interest in advocating for our nation’s Service and Conservation Corps. He graduated with a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Mary Washington and is looking to further his education in the near future. Bobby is a native Virginian, who enjoys backpacking, running and anything related to DC sports franchises.

Judith Rontal

Judith joined The Corps Network for the summer of 2014 to be the Communications and Membership Intern. Prior to joining the team, Judith has held previous communication internships with the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce and with the Human Rights Ordinance Campaign: One Royal Oak. All throughout her high school and college years Judith has been involved with youth development programs, such as tutoring inside local schools, working as a camp counselor, and teaching English during her semester abroad in Italy.

Judith’s passion for youth development is combined with an interest in conservation, which she developed while spending a month in Kenya doing independent research on the conflict-ridden relationship between the indigenous pastoralists and the protected national reserves. She is excited to leave the cold of Michigan after recently graduating from the University of Michigan to get a fresh start in DC! When not at TCN offices, Judith can either be found running through the streets of DC or baking cookies at home.

Buy a Father's Day Gift through Amazon and Help Support The Corps Network!

To celebrate Father's Day, from now through 6/15/2014, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate an extra $5 for each customer who makes an eligible purchase at in support of The Corps Network. This is in addition to the regular donation of 0.5% of the purchase price. 

Click here to get started: 

Thanks and have a great Father's Day!

The Corps Network

Our Staff Visits Florida Corps as part of Effort to Develop Gulf Coast Restoration Corps

Staff members from The Corps Network, including Vice President Marie Walker and Gulf Coast Restoration Corps Director of Development John Hosey recently had the privilege of visiting two members of The Corps Network in South Florida. Their time with Community Training Works, Inc. and Greater Miami Service Corps was a refreshing reminder about all the great work our network members are doing across the country making a difference in their lives of in the communities where they serve.

Community Training Works, Inc. crews work out of a number of locations across the state of Florida. Our staff members were pleased to get to know Chris Butler and his crew working in the Ft. Lauderdale area.  The crew work for the local Department of Corrections and Department of Transportation repairing and installing security fences as requested. You don’t have to be around these young men long to see the difference this program has made in their lives. When asked why he choose this program, Chris said, “I want to provide a good living for my wife and children and I always wanted to find a place I could learn a trade and have a future."

The Greater Miami Service Corps is also making a big difference in the lives of dozens of young adults every day. They have teams that work across the Miami-Dade County area on projects that are as diverse as the members themselves. The teams are made up of intercity youth (18-26) who come from a variety of culturally diverse backgrounds. Many of the members attend classes and earn a high school diploma and/or a degree from the Miami-Dade Community College system.

The Corps Network (TCN) wants to thank these wonderful Corps programs for all their hard work and accomplishments. Their success is based on a number of ingredients that come together to make something special. One of these special ingredients are the program directors and support staff. They dedicate countless hours and energy towards helping young adults succeed and find a productive place in their local communities.

As TCN continues to develop plan for creating the Gulf Coast Restoration Corps, John Hosey is traveling across the region introducing existing corps programs to the GCRC project. This visit to south Florida was such an effort as John and Marie met with the Directors for both programs. “We are always looking for ways to include existing Corps programs in our plans to start the Restoration Corps in the Gulf Region. This visit allowed us to see successful programs in action and identify some of their best practices that may be replicated in the new Corps” commented John Hosey.  

Mission Accomplished! Historic Stables in Shenandoah National Park Restored by 1st HOPE Crew

Photos by The Trust for Historic Preservation and The Corps Network

On Wednesday, June 4th, members of the first HOPE Crew participated in a ribbon-cutting event at the historic Skyland Stables, where they had recently completed a variety of projects to restore the stables. Corpsmembers seemed immensely proud of their work, and the skills they had gained. Some even had bonded with horses, and planned to visit them again for a ride over the summer (Sugarfoot the horse seemed to have been particularly fond of the Corpsmembers).

The historic preservation project was made possible by a large number of partners, including The Trust for Historic Preservation, Delaware North, Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia, Harper's Ferry Job Corps, Shenandoah National Park, and The Corps Network. Leaders from each organization attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

In addition to the earlier article about the project featured on, an article on covered the story. Enjoy the before and after photos below and we look forward to additional HOPE Crew projects having similar levels of success.



A Photo Collage for Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell

After receiving a photo from Mile High Youth Corps with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell from last week's announcement of 21st Century Conservation Service Corps grants, we thought "Wow! Secretary Jewell really has visited with a large number of Corpsmembers and Corps staff nationwide."

Based on our count, in only slightly over a year in office, Secretary Jewell has already met Corpsmembers from a total of 20 different Service and Conservation Corps programs! (See the list below) She has also spent time with youth and Corps completing service projects.

As a token of appreciation, we pulled together all of our photos from her visits to Corps and public lands, as well as photos from the FDR Memorial and The Corps Network 2014 National Conference. We hope you enjoy the collage. If you want to share it, we posted it on Twitter and Facebook.

1. Urban Corps of San Diego County
2. Rocky Mountain Youth Corps
3. Kupu / Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps
4. EOC Fresno Local Conservation Corps
5. CiviCorps
6. Southwest Conservation Corps
7. Northwest Youth Corps
8. California Conservation Corps
9. Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa
10. New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg
11. Earth Conservation Corps
12. DC Green Corps
13. Montgomery County Conservation Corps
14. Student Conservation Association
15. Conservation Corps North Bay
16. Utah Conservation Corps
17. Mile High Youth Corps
18. EarthCorps
19. LA Conservation Corps
20. Montana Conservation Corps

Kupu Leader Co-Authors Op-Ed on Benefits of Conservation to Hawaii

John Leong, Executive Director of Kupu, operators of the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps, recently co-authored an editiorial published by the Star Advertiser. It is republished below. 

Island Voices: Efforts to restore Hawaii's ecosystem serve many socially beneficial goals

By Josh Stanbro and John Leong

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 11, 2014

Our freshwater streams and ocean have long been at the center of Hawaii's culture and ecosystem.

Today, the impacts of climate change and changing land uses are threatening the balance of our environment, reducing our rainfall, eroding our beaches and harming our ocean resources.

To address these challenges, the Hawaii Community Foundation recently announced its 2014 grant recipients from the Community Restoration Partnership grant program.

The partnership brings together forward-thinking donors and dynamic nonprofit programs to find solutions for the critical challenge of our time: How do we make Hawaii as secure as possible in the face of diminishing fish stocks, invading species and increasing drought?

Since 2009, the partnership has worked collaboratively to protect Hawaii's nearshore ecosystems and encourage a robust, healthy fish population that will sustain future generations.

The partnership has come to understand that it can't fix Hawaii's reefs and stabilize its marine environment without following the problem upstream, addressing the source. In order to achieve a sustainable future, we must restore our coastal lands and waters from mauka to makai.

As one of nine partnership grantees for 2014, Kupu's Community U program is one bright example of Hawaii's people coming together to protect our island home. Community U puts underserved youth to work on the ground at conservation and cultural sites throughout the state, providing assistance and aid to grassroots restoration efforts.

On Oahu's windward side at Heeia, for example, invasive plants with shallow root systems have crowded out native growth along natural streams and traditional taro lo'i, allowing soil to be stripped from the land and eventually swept into the sea. Hawaii's fish populations and coastal waters have become threatened by tons of sediment gradually smothering the once-healthy coral reef systems. Here, Kupu is hard at work with Papahana Kuaola and Kako'o ʻŌiwi to remove invasive species, replant native vegetation and restore traditional taro lo'i that trap sediment and clean stormwater runoff.

Beyond this important work to repair terrestrial and marine resources, Kupu's Community U program provides opportunities for at-risk youth coming from difficult situations (in some cases, incarceration) to turn their lives around -- a second chance to obtain a diploma, gain transferable job skills, develop life skills and successfully build career pathways.

Hawaii's environment has been impaired because of human impact, certainly, but our greatest threat is apathy. Community U tackles these challenges head-on both by reversing damage to the land now, and restoring our youth as responsible change agents who care and are dedicated to stewarding themselves and our islands over the long term.

Our quality of life and the resilience of our aina and oceans in the 21st century are directly dependent on the people of Hawaii healing the land, and the land in turn helping to heal us.

Thanks to forward-thinking grant funders -- including the Hawaii Community Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Weissman Family Foundation, the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation -- the partnership is able to directly support restoration projects for a cleaner, healthier Hawaii.

Work is underway to clear the waters at Heeia, but Hawaii needs community restoration projects in every single ahupua'a around our Islands.

Restored lands defend against the scourge of invasive species, capture precious raindrops and absorb them into our aquifers, and hold the line against sediment and erosion that reduce our marine and fish populations.

The Community Restoration Partnership firmly believes in supporting community groups that organize in their backyard to restore their own beloved places. We encourage other funders and donors to join the partnership and expand our impact.