Partnerships for Global Youth Service Day

On April 11-13, 2014, youth organizations around the country will hold events for Global Youth Service Day (or in this case, Days!)  This initiative spearheaded by Youth Service America (YSA) highlights the work of youth engaged with changing their communities. It’s a dedicated day for youth to serve – and be celebrated for their service.

Carol Huls, The Corps Network’s Member Relations Manager, attended part of the Youth Service America’s Youth Service Institute on Nov. 12, 2013. This multi-day intensive training was designed for programs planning Global Youth Service Day events. (Carol just attended on the “partner” day). In addition to workshops on how to engage youth, YSA offers funding to support GYSD events. Their Lead Agency grants for 2014 have been allocated, but the Sodexo Foundation Youth Grants are still open for application.

The workshops focused on how to incorporate youth voices into the planning and execution of GYSD events. YSA staff like to “ask the hard questions”: How do you involve those youth “not traditionally asked to serve”? What barriers are you not seeing that are keeping youth from participating (eg. lack of transportation)? Are you stepping back and letting the youth actually lead?

Carol participated as TCN’s representative in a time for networking with the attendees from all around the country. She distributed a list of TCN members and encouraged programs to reach out to Corps for assistance in planning and implementation of their GYSD project – and to develop longer term partnerships.

The Corps Network is a part of The Global Youth Service Network convened by YSA.  This coalition is made up of local, state, national, and global organizations committed to engaging children and youth to solve problems and lead communities through volunteering, community service, service-learning, national service, and civic engagement.

Please check out their resources at www.ysa.org

Sally Jewell Meets New Jersey Youth Corps Members, Announces New Hurricane Sandy Restoration Grants, and Promotes Emphasis on Youth in Major Speech

Sally Jewell puts on New Jersey Youth Corps attire.

Written by the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipburg with additional reporting from The Corps Network

Last week, New Jersey Youth Corps programs from Camden and Phillipsburg, by invitation of the Secretary of the Interior, attended a press event at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Galloway Twp, NJ. On behalf of President Obama, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Interior and local officials to announce that $162 million will be invested in 45 restoration and research projects that will better protect Atlantic Coast communities from future powerful storms, by restoring marshes, wetlands and beaches, rebuilding shorelines, and researching the impacts and modeling mitigation of storm surge impacts.

Using the dramatic backdrop of Atlantic City as a stark contrast to the some 40,000 acres of wildlife habitat, Secretary Jewell stressed the importance of preserving our natural treasures, preparing for and building resiliency against future storms as well as developing projects with strong youth components. After her press conference, the Secretary had a private meet & greet with Corpsmembers (US Fish & Wildlife Director Daniel Ashe and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ12th) also participated) They thanked the Youth Corps for all their efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, encouraged the Corpmembers to pursue careers in the environmental field and to continue their great work all throughout the state.

Earlier this week, Mary Ellen Ardouny of The Corps Network attended an additional event in Alexandria, Virginia where Sally Jewell further promoted the restoration projects at the National Park Service managed Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. In all, $162 million for 45 projects were authorized (list here). They also announced that the Department would issue a Request for Proposals for an additional $100 million in grant funding under the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program. We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress toward getting Youth Corps to work on these types of projects.

In a major policy speech today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Secretary Jewell also outlined a major emphasis on connecting youth to public lands through a new effort in 50 cities, through K-12 education in “outdoor classrooms”, through volunteerism, and through training and employment opportunities like the 21st Century Conservation Corps (click here to watch the segment of the speech about youth). Further details were not immediately available, but we are glad to hear that Secretary Jewell remains committed to connecting youth to public lands!

[Video] Civicorps Corpsmember Stars in PBS Documentary, Leaves it Behind as Legacy

An Important Note from Civicorps Executive Director Alan Lessik:  Sharon was due to graduate Civicorps in December with plans to attend college, when Civicorps found out that she died from a heart attack on October 16, 2013. The video is a testament to the perseverance that corpsmembers all over the country feel as they work hard to turn their lives around and to overcome the barriers that they face. Sharon’s final words in the movie talked about her future and how “I really want to make it.”

In the video, Sharon reflected on her past, her gang involvement as well as her family and  discovering Civicorps as the path to a new and different future. It describes her academic and work life at Civicorps and in some footage from in one of the East Bay Regional Parks, she talks about learning new skills and appreciation for the outdoors as part of a crew.

In our community meeting today, we honored Sharon and viewed the film together. All of Civicorps mourns her death  and the greatest honor we can give to Sharon is to bring her words into our hearts and our actions. As one corpsmember said, “She was my age, trying to get to a higher place. So, I’m going to graduate for her. I’m going to go to college for her.”

Twenty-one year old Sharon Montano grew up in east Oakland, California in a neighborhood known as the “Dirty Thirties.” She did fine in grammar school but when she hit middle school she began drinking, smoking, and popping pills with friends whom she’d later lose. In her East Oakland neighborhood, violence was part of her daily life.

Going back to school turned out to be more difficult than she thought. Over the years, she started and dropped out of several remedial programs; then later became ineligible for others because of her age.

When she discovers Oakland’s Civicorps, where she meets other young people who have gone through similar rough situations, she finally gets another shot at a high school diploma — and a future. Sharon has gone from being a bad influence to a role model, and really wants to make it.

Directed by Raymond Telles

More Information on the ITVS website

Boiler Plate: 
Sharon was due to graduate Civicorps in December with plans to attend college, when Civicorps found out that she died from a heart attack on October 16, 2013. The video is a testament to the perseverance that corpsmembers all over the country feel as they work hard to turn their lives around and to overcome the barriers that they face. Sharon’s final words in the movie talked about her future and how “I really want to make it.”

[Video] AmeriCorps, Youthbuild, and Youth Conservation Corps Featured on PBS Broadcast for American Graduate Day

On Saturday, we were proud to watch several of our young spokespeople represent AmeriCorps and us on PBS's nationwide broadcast of American Graduate Day. 

Germain Castellanos, a Corps Network 2005 Corpsmember of the Year and a former member of Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) in Waukegan IL spoke about his AmeriCorps experience, as well as Jamiel Alexander, one of our good friends from Youthbuild and the National Council of Young Leaders. They were interviewed by Wes Moore, a former U.S. Army Captain who is a youth advocate, best-selling author, and now hosts "Beyond Belief," a show on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The segment also includes a short video about AmeriCorps' Education Service Corps.

Watch by clicking here or on the image above.

Boiler Plate: 
On Saturday, we were proud to watch several of our young spokespeople represent AmeriCorps and us on PBS's nationwide broadcast of American Graduate Day. Watch the segment on AmeriCorps here.

Numerous Members of The Corps Network Participating in National Public Lands Day

Saturday, September 28th is National Public Lands Day, and several members of The Corps Network are helping to lead events! Below you will find links and brief descriptions of the events that Corps will be helping to organize and make successful. You can also find a list of projects near to where you are by using the search tool on the National Public Lands Day website.

American Youthworks / Texas Conservation Corps (Austin, Texas)

Please join Texas Conservation Corps and Austin Parks Foundation for National Public Lands Day this Saturday, September 28th, 2013.
There are over 25 work projects across Austin that will be followed with an awesome lunch and after party at Zilker Park.  There will be food, drink, t-shirts and a give away of 20 3-day passes to ACL fest!
Flex Austin's volunteer muscle by celebrating this 20 year anniversary of National Public Lands Day!

Register at NPLD/Austin

Civic Works and The Student Conservation Association (Baltimore, Maryland)

Be a part of Maryland's Day to Serve initiative by giving back to Baltimore's public green spaces! In partnership with Civic Works, The Student Conservation Association will lead a group of volunteers in trail restoration work at Baltimore's own Gwynns Falls Leakin Park! Volunteers should be sure to wear long pants and closed toed shoes that they don't mind getting dirty! Snacks and lunch provided. Sign up today!

When: Saturday, October 5th, 2013 (9am – 1pm)

Where: Gwynns Falls Leakin Park, 4600 North Franklintown Rd, Baltimore, MD 21289

What: Trail cleanup and maintenance

To register contact SCA's Service Event's Manager Lori Robertson at lrobertson@thesca.org or 703-524-2441

Greening Youth Foundation (Atlanta, Georgia)

The Greening Youth Foundation will be helping to take part in activities at Martin Luther King National Historic Site, and will be joined by special guests Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and music star Cee Lo Green! They will also host their "Urban Campout." Campers will engage in an overnight urban camping experience & camp site fun that includes instruction, entertainment, and food! Send contact information to Rkitchen@gyfoundation.org or Lbrown@gyfoundation.org if you’re interested in participating with this event. *Open to High School  students and approved chaperones only.

Montana Conservation Corps (Throughout Montana)

Helena: http://www.publiclandsday.org/npld-sites/centennial-park

Kalispell: http://www.publiclandsday.org/npld-sites/pompeys-pillar-national-monument-0

Billings: http://www.publiclandsday.org/npld-sites/pompeys-pillar-national-monument-0

Missoula: Fort Missoula Regional Park

Bozeman: Gallatin County Regional Park

Southwest Conservation Corps (Colorado and Arizona)

In Durango, Colorado:

Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) and community volunteers will participate in a day of community service to celebrate 15 years of serving the Four Corners and the 20th annual National Public Lands Day.  Twenty-eight SCC AmeriCorps Volunteers in addition to SCC staff and other volunteers will work on Chris Park trails (Hwy 550 N) in San Juan National Forest on Saturday morning to improve our public lands while celebrating this event with local community partners and participants.  Volunteer crews will be working on Haviland View Trail and Chris Park Trail to improve conditions and make trails more sustainable for all users including hikers, horses, and bicycles.  The event will take place from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m., followed by a lunch celebration near the Chris Park campground. 

As part of the national movement to support and maintain public lands while enjoying nature, SCC volunteers will be among the more than 175,000 volunteers contributing to public lands on this day throughout the United States. Southwest Conservation Corps strives to empower individuals to positively impact their lives, their communities, and the environment and has been accomplishing conservation work throughout the region for 15 years, improving local lands while impacting the lives of more than 4,500 AmeriCorps Volunteers. 

Volunteers from the Durango and surrounding communities are welcome to join SCC this Saturday morning to get their hands dirty.  Volunteers should RSVP with Kevin Heiner, 970-403-0145, kevin@sccorps.org and arrive at the Chris Park Group Campground on Saturday at 8am with boots, water, and rain gear. Tools and food will be provided.  

In Arizona (Molino Canyon):

The Coronado National Forest, Santa Catalina Ranger District along with REI and the Southwest Conservation Corps will be hosting a volunteer event Saturday, September, 28 in celebration of National Public Lands Day.  Come join us as  we work on cleaning up the Catalina Highway’s vistas,  trail heads, and parking pullouts.  Snacks, water, and lunch will be provided!  See you there!

Additional Information

The Student Conservation Association (Nationwide)

The Student Conservation Association is hosting events in Chicago, Anchorage, Houston, Moab, Seattle, and Richmond.

All of the details here! 

Boiler Plate: 
Saturday, September 28th is National Public Lands Day, and several members of The Corps Network are helping to lead events! Below you will find links and brief descriptions of the events that Corps will be helping to organize and make successful.

Famous and Crazy TV Car Salesman Cal Worthington was also in the CCC

Car dealer and TV personality Cal Worthington passed away September 8 at his California ranch.  He was 92. 

Worthington made a fortune selling cars in California and beyond with crazy commercials featuring his "dog," Spot (see one here).  But Worthington also had a CCC connection, a fact noted in his New York Times obituary.

At age 15 in 1936, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in Colorado where he was stationed at a camp in Estes Park. He worked on trails in what would become Rocky Mountain National Park.

He recalled those days, saying "I got the first toothbrush I ever had in my life in the CCC. And it was the first time in my life I had a balanced diet."

He went on to become a decorated bomber pilot during World War II, then a multi-millionaire, owning auto dealerships from Southern California up to Alaska.

More recently, Worthington was among the contributors to the "CCC boy" statue in the foyer of the California Conservation Corps headquarters in Sacramento.

Boiler Plate: 
Worthington made a fortune selling cars in California and beyond with crazy commercials featuring his "dog," Spot (see one here). But Worthington also had a CCC connection, a fact noted in his New York Times obituary.

Partnership for 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Hold 2nd In-Person Meeting in Washington

On Tuesday this week, participants in the Partnership for a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) met in Washington, D.C. to discuss the progression of the initiative. While fundamental questions about the logistics and funding of the initiative remain, substantial progress has been made by the Partnership and the National Council (i.e. official representatives from federal agencies) that will soon pave the way for on-the-ground activities.

For instance, it is expected that soon the National Council will release the first list of programs who have been deemed to meet the necessary criteria and principles for participation as a 21CSC program participants. This list and subsequent additions to the list are a necessary precursor to the federal land management agencies issuing guidance to regions and units on how to partner with local and regional 21CSC programs to accomplish select projects.

Among the ideas for raising substantial private funds for the initiative is to market a package of what were described as “projects that endure,” or perhaps something along the lines of “100 Projects to Restore America.” Key representatives from the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project attended this partnership meeting and the prior meeting, and wanted to express their enthusiasm that the 21CSC could be a substantial cornerstone of their primary goal to elevate voluntary civilian national service as a counterpart to military service in the United States. The nitty-gritty details of identifying projects that “are set apart from projects that Corps are already doing” is something of a dual-edged dynamic, as many people attending the meeting also believed that the initiative needs to be something more deeply “embedded into how the federal agencies work.”

This dynamic more broadly was discussed in the desire to create a launch event for the program with some pow, substantial press, and funded projects. It should be noted, however, that some attendees recognized that while a huge launch would have value, there have actually been a steady progression of events that have moved the initiative forward. Starting from a championed idea, to the creation and input of a Federal Advisory Committee to make that idea into a more functional set of principles and recommendations, to the establishment of a National Council as recommended by the Federal Advisory Committee to implement the initiative, and now the nearly-completed initial request for letters of interest in being listed as an official 21CSC program participants, there is a lot of merit to this perspective. So in other words, a request was voiced to appreciate the long-term progress made to create an enduring initiative, that has taken time to evolve given the complexities of collaboration between numerous federal agencies and partners.

One analogy that seemed to resonate with people in the room was that the 21CSC is a growing tree, where the roots and trunk of the tree are a “broad array of partnerships.”

Beyond generalizations about the big picture of where the initiative stands, several new memorandums of understanding / partnership agreements were detailed, with groups including The Wilderness Society, Backcountry Horsemen, and the Conservation Lands Foundation. A representative of the Federal Interagency Task Force of Outdoor Recreation (FICOR) also detailed some new recommendations that will be made to the agencies on how to better facilitate some of the legal framework issues for implementing the 21CSC collaboratively. Work on new partnership agreements and putting the FICOR recommendations into effect will continue.

Some potential logos for the 21CSC were also briefly presented as well as work by The Corps Network to build a website that will serve as temporary home for information about the 21CSC and approved programs. Finally, numerous accreditation efforts and a national service registry were discussed, as well as how to limit redundancies between these systems and processes.

In summary, the partnership meeting showed that while there are still a lot of finer details to be worked out in terms of how the 21CSC will operate, significant progress continues to be made and enthusiasm for the large potential of this initiative remains strong.

Boiler Plate: 
On Tuesday this week, participants in the Partnership for a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) met in Washington, D.C. to discuss the progression of the initiative. While fundamental questions about the logistics and funding of the initiative remain, substantial progress has been made by the Partnership and the National Council (i.e. official representatives from federal agencies) that will soon pave the way for on-the-ground activities.

[Video] Orange County Conservation Corps Teams with Disney for "Adopt a Channel" Initiative

Orange County Conservation Corps has been working with Disney and other partners to clean stormwater drains that leave from Disneyland as part of the "Adopt a Channel Program." Learn more about this cool initiative by watching the video below.

North to Alaska! Corps Helping with Flood Relief Efforts in Remote Village

Editor's Note: Over the summer, numerous Corps and partners have been assisting with flood relief efforts in the remote village of Galena, Alaska as part of a FEMA - AmeriCorps mission assignment. To date, among The Corps Network's membership, Washington Conservation Corps, Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa, and American YouthWorks have sent crews. In addition to the excellent story below that we are republishing courtesy of AmeriCorps and the National Service Blog, FEMA has an excellent resource page that includes items like a pair of striking before and after satellite images that show the rapid extent of flooding. There is also a Yukon AmeriCorps response Facebook page that includes photos and regular updates. As usual, we are proud of our members and partners for their excellent work to help out in a time of need, no matter how challenging the logistics or how far the distance!

By Paula Katrina Drago

On June 25, President Obama made a federal disaster declaration for parts of Alaska along the Yukon River due to ice jam-related flooding from May 17 to June 11. On cue, a team of AmeriCorps members soon arrived in the remote village of Galena to help people there begin to recover.

Flooding affected villages along a 1,200-mile stretch of the Yukon in the United States – a distance roughly the length of the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, MN, to Vicksburg, MS. The ice blockage sent water flowing into Galena and other villages along the river, flooding homes, schools, and other critical infrastructure.

Response efforts to Galena were unlike any other flood response as the town is only accessible by plane and barge (and only plane once the river freezes up in early fall). The logistics of moving people and resources in and out of the village poses some unique challenges, and any work that isn’t complete by the time winter arrives in late September won’t be resumed until May.

AmeriCorps members arrived in Galena on July 13, two weeks after FEMA made the official federal disaster declaration. Within an hour of landing, they were in the field beginning the critical work of repairing the community. Since their arrival, AmeriCorps members have:

  • Gathered more than 100 homeowner work-order requests for volunteer assistance and established a collaborative work order and dispatch process for the Galena area.
  • Completed more than 70 work orders.
  • Collected and distributed 500+ pounds of food, 40+ pounds of clothes, and 5,600+ pounds of other supplies.
  • Provided direct volunteer management support to over 30 volunteers.

AmeriCorps members are supporting shelter operations and helping residents muck and gut, remove debris, and repair their homes, but that’s only a snapshot of the national service response. For a more detailed picture of what AmeriCorps is doing in Galena, watch the video below and read a member’s account of her team’s experience. 

Going to the Dogs

AmeriCorps has also played a critical role in addressing the impact of the flood on animals there because Galena’s dogs are more than pets—they’re integral to survival.

Dogs help residents find their way home in poor weather conditions, and they alert owners to predators and other dangers. Many are part of dog sled teams that are an important form of transportation – especially when temperatures fall below the point where fuel freezes and render motorized vehicles useless – in a town that is also a stop for the famous Iditarod race. 

Compared to many of the disasters AmeriCorps members have responded to in the last two years, Galena, Alaska, is small in size. Yet whether a disaster impacts millions, thousands, or hundreds, each family receives the same response whenever their world gets turned upside down.

When the work orders arrive, our teams don’t refer to them by a number or even a last name. They see instead that “Allison’s sister” needs some trees removed or that “John’s father” needs his home mucked and gutted. By connecting on this intimate level, AmeriCorps is able to do an even-better job with what we do best: getting things done.

To view the original version of this story and see additional photos and the short video, please click here to journey to the National Service blog.

Boiler Plate: 
Over the summer, numerous Corps and partners have been assisting with flood relief efforts in the remote village of Galena, Alaska as part of a FEMA - AmeriCorps mission assignment.

EarthCorps Featured in Seattle Times by "Fit for Life" Columnist

Benjamin Benschneider / The Seattle Times

Excerpted from the Seattle Times

Corps work: Get good exercise for the good Earth

Fit for Life columnist Nicole Tsong is all in for working hard and doing good for the planet by volunteering with EarthCorps, the nonprofit Seattle-based organization dedicated to environmental restoration and developing community leaders.

Special to The Seattle Times

BURIED DEEP in a thicket of sword ferns in Lincoln Park in West Seattle, wrestling with vine after vine of English ivy, I wished I had worn a heart monitor. Crouching in a forest and pulling out English ivy by the roots isn’t easy; I wanted to know exactly how hard I was working.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think ahead. So I relied on the fact that I was doing something good for the environment, and also the feelings in my legs, lower back and shoulders that told me weeding a forest for three hours or so is plain hard work.

Plenty of studies tell us that working out keeps us strong and elevates our mood, which can only be good for people around us. Most of us work out for the endorphins, to build strength, to get fit. Still, I don’t count going to the gym as public service.

Then there is EarthCorps. The nonprofit Seattle-based organization is dedicated to environmental restoration and developing community leaders, and its volunteer work requires physical effort for improving not only Lincoln Park but Magnuson Park in the North End and others scattered around Puget Sound. Working hard and doing good for the planet? Count me in.

Continue Reading

Boiler Plate: 
Fit for Life columnist Nicole Tsong is all in for working hard and doing good for the planet by volunteering with EarthCorps, the nonprofit Seattle-based organization dedicated to environmental restoration and developing community leaders.

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