Photos of the Month: September 2015

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps Facebook pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from September 2015. 

 


ACE 



Arizona Conservation Corps 



California Conservation Corps 



California Conservation Corps 



Kupu 



Vermont Youth Conservation Corps 



LA Conservation Corps 



LA Conservation Corps 



Utah Conservation Corps 



Washington Conservation Corps 



Mile High Youth Corps 



Montana Conservation Corps 



Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - CO 



Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - NM 



Arizona Conservation Corps 


 

The Corps Network Joins Green For All for "Forum on Climate Change, Clean Energy, and Communities of Color"

Van Jones moderates a panel of expert speakers at Green For All's Forum on Climate Change, Clean Energy, and Communities of Color.

Yesterday several members of The Corps Network's staff were honored to join Green For All at an event that focused on the opportunities presented to communities by President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency's finalized Clean Power Plan.

Speakers included:

  • Julian Mocine McQueen, Green For All Outreach Director
  • Vien Truong, Green For All National Director
  • Kim Noble, Green For All Director of National Partnerships
  • Van Jones, Green For All President and Founder
  • The Honorable Raul Grijalva (AZ), U.S House of Representatives
  • Elianne Ramos, Principal and CEO of Speak Hispanic Communications
  • Key Chatterjee, Executive Director, US Climate Action Network
  • The Honorable Keith Ellison (MN), U.S. House of Representatives
  • Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ

In her opening remarks, Vien Truong put a big emphasis on her desire to tell the uplifting stories of those people who have not traditionally benefitted from the economics of the energy industry and who probably have been negatively impacted by pollution. She said that there were already many positive examples, from places like California, where new programs were helping communities benefit from clean energy economically as well as environmentally.

In his keynote, Van Jones then spent a few minutes detailing the challenge that President Obama has faced in reducing carbon emissions. He then introduced a panel he moderated by asking "How do you take the new rules [of the Clean Power Plan] and push down on the pollution and up on jobs? That's what we are going to hear about today."

Van did not shy away from bringing some less savory thoughts and comments out into the open, and began the panel by asking Elianne Ramos, CEO of Speak Hispanic Communications, to respond to the idea "that a lot of people pretend that Latinos don't care about the issue [environmentalism]." Elianne responded that this perception was false and that connections with nature were strong within Latino cultures. For instance, she mentioned that recycling and reusing materials was a well-established part of Latino culture.

Keya Chatterjee, Executive Director of the US Climate Action Network, spoke about the importance of giving people the opportunity to come together and find common ground. She mentioned that the recent climate march in New York City was attended by a variety of immigration and AIDS advocacy groups, whose chief cause might not have been climate change, but nonetheless it was something that they supported.

U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (MN) emphasized that in regard to positive developments in the clean energy sector, "people who profit from the status quo are going to push back." He said, however, to not be deterred, and to "not treat the clean power plan as a Washington thing."

Van Jones asked U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva to speak about a bill he recently introduced that would boost clean energy on tribal lands. The Congressman responded by explaining that "having clean power as an economic tool could be powerful." He mentioned that the excess energy produced by tribes could be sold outside of reservations, providing a new economic resource for tribes. He also noted that tribes own lands that count toward more than 25% of the United States' renewable energy capacity.

The conversation then took a turn and focused on how to build a stronger grassroots movement. Elainne Ramos spoke about the need to establish leadership pipelines that would provide young people with more opportunities to be involved and receive mentorship from current environmental leaders. This is the type of work, of course, that members of The Corps Network excel at doing. 

One of the other big topics discussed by the panel and also later in a keynote address by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, were how to blend together the goals of religious groups and envionmentalism. Rev. Moss III highlighted how as part of Green For All's "Green the Church" initiative, his church had implemented a variety of environmental practices, including an organic farm. He noted that organic farming in particular, was a fantastic hands-on opportunity to incorporate STEM-focused learning for participants. He also talked about how his church was involving returning citizens from prison in projects, including the renovation of the church into a LEED-certified building.

In his concluding remarks, Congressman Grijalva implored for the audience to reach new people and broaden the movement and "keep it personal, and talk about the future." He added: "Climate change is the most important unifying issue we have as a country and a globe... Barack's got a nice wingman right now with Pope Francis on the issue."

The Corps Network looks forward to continuing to work with Green For All to broaden the environmental movement to communities of color. We will also continue to work with our members to implement the Clean Power Plan and activities that combat climate change.

Boiler Plate: 
Yesterday several members of The Corps Network's staff were honored to join Green For All at an event that focused on the opportunities presented to communities by President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency's finalized Clean Power Plan.

California Conservation Corps Corpsmembers Continue Fire Response

From the California Conservation Corps

This week the California Conservation Corps has more than 600 corpsmembers -- 47 crews -- out on eight different wildfires, including the devastating Valley Fire in Lake County.

Crews are involved in fire suppression and fire camp support for Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service. There are also two crews helping displaced residents at a Red Cross shelter.

Photos: Camarillo fire crews on the Rough Fire in Fresno County

Boiler Plate: 
This week the California Conservation Corps has more than 600 corpsmembers -- 47 crews -- out on eight different wildfires, including the devastating Valley Fire in Lake County.

Photos of the Month: August 2015

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps Facebook pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from August 2015. 



California Conservation Corps 



ACE 



Earthcorps



Montana Conservation Corps 



Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - CO, taken by Corpsmember Taylor Hobson

 


Washington Conservation Corps  



Civic Works 



Earthcorps



ACE 



Green City Force 



Vermont Youth Conservation Corps 



Larimer County Conservation Corps 



Greater Miami Service Corps 



Youth Conservation Corps 



St. Bernard Project
 



Civicorps 



SEEDS 



Onondaga Earth Corps 



LA Conservation Corps 

 

The Corps Network Joins SCA to Celebrate 99th Birthday of National Park Service

National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and SCA President and CEO Jaime Maytas prepare to blow out the birthday candles.

Who doesn't enjoy celebrating a birthday? Take pity on those who can't or don't enjoy sinking their teeth into a delicious piece of cake.

Fortunately for The Corps Network's staff, on Tuesday we were invited to join the Student Conservation Association and the National Park Service for a "Servabration" at the Washington Memorial in honor of the National Park Service's 99th Birthday. Speakers included SCA President and CEO Jaime Maytas, National Mall and Memorial Parks Superintendent Karen Cucurullo, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, and SCA Alum Ayomide Sekiteri. There were also a few small opportunities for fun, including a trivia contest and a small service project to assemble seed bombs.



SCA Alum and Volunteer Centennial Ambassador 
Ayomide Sekiteri with Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network.

You can see more photos of The Corps Network staff and the event here.

Celebrations of the birthday of the National Park Service took place nationwide and online. The National Park Foundation published a list of 99 Ways to Find Your Park. For comedic pleasure, a Mother Jones story that made the rounds online titled, "I Can't Stop Reading One-Star Yelp Reviews of National Parks." Clearly those people didn't watch Acadia Gettin' Funky. The National Parks Conservation Association shared a nice new video [watch below].

 

We look forward to continuing to celebrate the National Park Service's 99th birthday and especially its upcoming Centennial! We know that The Corps Network and our members have played, and will continue to play, a large role in the stewardship of our national park system. We look forward to telling these stories over the coming years.

Boiler Plate: 
Who doesn't enjoy celebrating a birthday? Take pity on those who can't or don't enjoy sinking their teeth into a delicious piece of cake. Fortunately for The Corps Network's staff, on Tuesday we were invited to join the Student Conservation Association and the National Park Service for a "Servabration" at the Washington Memorial in honor of the National Park Service's 99th Birthday. Speakers included SCA President and CEO Jaime Maytas, National Mall and Memorial Parks Superintendent Karen Cucurullo, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, and SCA Alum Ayomide Sekiteri. There were also a few small opportunities for fun, including a trivia contest and a small service project to assemble seed bombs.

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Proposes an $8 Million Gulf Coast Conservation Corps Program

A Climb CDC Corpsmember and Texas Conservation Corps Crewleader work together on a pilot project as part of The Corps Network's Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative. Photo Credit: The Nature Conservancy

Last week the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration (RESTORE) Council released its Draft Initial Funded Priorities List. Using funds obtained from settlements following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Restore Council now aims to solicit public feedback on $139.6 million of proposed projects by September 28th. In addition to the opportunity to provide written feedback, several public meetings have been scheduled in Gulf Coast states. 

Among the proposed projects is a Gulf Coast Conservation Corps program. The $8 million program would be administered by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with support from the U.S. Department of Interior, as well as the state governments of Gulf Coast states. In addition to training local youth and veterans, a major emphasis would be placed on the engagement and recruitment of tribal youth. The Restore Council states that "The initial recruitment target is to employ approximately 25 crewmembers per State, per year, with a total of approximately 375 crewmembers working a total of 750,000 hours."

Ecologically the program would aim to restore at least 500 acres of coastal habitat, as well as assist with the completion of other priority projects, including some of those that are part of the Draft Initial Funded Priorities List. Rather than establishing a new federal Corps program, NOAA, DOI, and the states would partner with pre-existing regional and local Corps programs who could help coordinate the implementation of the program.

The Corps Network's CEO Mary Ellen Sprenkel released the following statement on the proposed Gulf Coast Conservation Corps project:

"The RESTORE Council's commitment to restoring the Gulf Coast is not only a victory for the ecosystems, wildlife, and the Gulf of Mexico— it’s a victory for people. Thanks to the support of the Walton Family Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and many partners in the Gulf Region over the past year and a half, we have demonstrated through several pilot projects that young people have the will and desire to be involved in this critical work. By recruiting local young people and veterans to these new, high-impact demonstration projects, a growing tide of people throughout the Gulf Region will see how empowering youth to learn how to restore their region’s lands and waters pays off for local economies and communities, as well as for the Corpsmembers themselves." 

The Corps Network has been working with a number of its members and partners in the Gulf Coast Region to demonstrate the role Conservation Corps can play in coastal restoration and in the development of a locally available conservation workforce. A number of pilot projects are ongoing as part of our Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative. 

Boiler Plate: 
Among the proposed projects is a Gulf Coast Restoration Corps program. The $8 million program would be administered by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with support from the U.S. Department of Interior, as well as the state governments of Gulf Coast states. In addition to training local youth and veterans, a major emphasis would be placed on the engagement and recruitment of tribal youth. The Restore Council states that "The initial recruitment target is to employ approximately 25 crewmembers per State, per year, with a total of approximately 375 crewmembers working a total of 750,000 hours."

YCC Responds to Tornado


 

On the night of Sunday, August 2nd, an EF1 tornado with wind speeds up to 100 miles per hour touched down in Lake County, IL. The storm created a path of destruction over seven miles long, prompting Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), based in Waukegan, IL, to adjust their programming schedule to offer disaster response assistance.

YCC YouthBuild members have spent the better part of this week clearing debris. Their first stop was the home of an elderly woman whose house and driveway were buried in downed trees. The crew was able to clean the property and free her car. They next offered assistance at the home of a person with disabilities. So far, the crew has touched nine homes.

“It just so happens that this is my community and these are my neighbors,” said Ben Richards, YCC Program Director. “It brought a lot together for me. I was uplifted personally by what YCC AmeriCorps can and did do.”

Financial Literacy Training for Corpsmembers Through DOI Federal Credit Union


Mario Mejia (Center) of DOI Federal Credit Union at Green City Force 

Did you know that the Department of the Interior Federal Credit Union (DOIFCU) offers a free, comprehensive financial literacy training designed for Corpsmembers?

Through both The Corps Cooperative and The Corps Network, staff and Corpsmembers from member organizations of The Corps Network, as well as their immediate family members, have the option to bank with DOIFCU. Part of the Credit Union’s mission is to not only offer the resources to manage your money, but to help people understand money management practices, too.

“My main goal is to link knowledge to the resources,” said Mario Mejia, The Corps Network’s account manager for DOIFCU and the lead organizer of the financial literacy training program. “Everyone has financial needs, but everyone isn’t eligible to access resources.  Partnerships like this open the doors to meet financial needs through competitive resources in a low to no fee structure, that’s step one. Step two is simply providing the literacy so that each member is equipped with the knowledge to maximize the resources. I see it as, you can have a car and keys, yet learning how to drive is the game changer.

Mario recently visited New York City to conduct a training with Corpsmembers from Green City Force. The topics covered included Credit Unions v. Banks; Money Management Benefits; Steps to Improve your Financial Management; Budgeting; Practical Money-Saving Tips; Banking 101; Credit 101; and Money Management Tools. The training involves an informational presentation as well as activities that prompt Corpsmembers to make financial goals, consider their current expenses, and develop an action plan for how to meet their goals.  



Mario Mejia (Center) of DOI Federal Credit Union at Green City Force 
 

“This training is specific to Corps, with a focus on youth and young adults from every stage of life,” said Mario. “…I’ve found that over the span of years from adolescence to young adulthood can have its advantages or disadvantages.  During that time frame, several life changes can take place that the average person isn’t prepared for, and can have a lasting effect on your finances.  This can range from situations such as first time homebuyer, birth of a child/children, a loss of a loved one, college expenses, first time saving/checking accounts, etc.  This is where access to financial resources and literacy has its greatest effect.  We realize every situation may be different, but good money habits coupled with access to services and financial coaches is the best way to direct through life’s changes.  Sadly, it doesn’t take much to end up in an upward climb to get back on track.  Often times your credit can be damaged even before you’re 18, which a good amount of youth encounter from misusage due to family members or lack of information.  Even if it’s not the topic of credit I regularly receive questions like: how do I get started, how do I get ahead, or how do I fix that…?”

Though Mario hosted the training for Green City Force, the presentation and activities have accompanying notes, allowing Corps staff the flexibility to lead the training themselves. Mario is currently working with a Corps to develop a way to do the training via video conference so Corps staff will be better equipped to present and answer Corpsmember questions in future trainings. Additionally, though the training at Green City Force offered a general overview of financial management, Mario is happy to customize the training around particular topics a Corps may want to cover.

“To me, the Green City Force training was extremely successful,” said Mario. “I considered the success rate based on their questions from the beginning, and how much their questions advanced by the end.  I watched as they began to connect the dots, internalizing the information and making it relevant to their own lives.  I heard the side conversation and as a presenter I watched the principles germinate throughout the room. That said I knew they were getting it...People walked away and I felt like they were encouraged and equipped with credit union sheltered services, a plan, and knowledge to make S.M.A.R.T decisions with their financial lives.  The resources were going to be a lot more successful because something clicked. They said I can do this and I feel comfortable doing this.”

Mario is currently in conversations with several Corps about the training and is excited to talk with any other Corps that are interested. In the future, Mario hopes to provide the training as a day-long seminar or as 2-hour-long segments for each topic that the Corps wants to cover. All seminars are customized to fit your needs.  At the end of the training, Corpsmembers receive a certificate in recognition of their achievements and commitment to better their lives with sound money management habits.

Interested Corps can contact Mario by email, phone (703-801-5713), or through the Special Offers page of The Corps Network website’s Members Only section.

***This is a free service provided to all Members, Affiliates and AmeriCorps Basic Members of The Corps Network.

How Northwest Youth Corps’ American Sign Language Crews Overcome the Communication Barrier

Northwest Youth Corps (NYC) has developed a program dedicated to recruiting Deaf and Hard of hearing youth, and deploying them as American Sign Language (ASL) Inclusion crews. This fits into the Corps’ mission. Since 1984, the Corps has strived to provide opportunities for youth and young adults to learn, grow, and experience success. They focus on giving youth chances to experience education, challenges, community service, and develop critical life and leadership skills. NYC enrolls over 1000 young people each year.

Emma Bixler was crucial to making the American Sign Language program a reality. She is the Inclusion Coordinator of the program. She stays with the crew for most of the summer program not only as the coordinator but as the interpreter as well. She helped bring the program to life, after working on similar inclusive crews at Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa.

The ASL crews consist of ten young people between the ages of 16 and 19, whom are Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing. They are accompanied by two Crew Leaders, who are fluent in ASL. The ASL crews work throughout the state of Oregon and in Northern California to maintain and construct hiking trails, restore habitat for native plants and animals, and complete many other environmental conservation projects.

As part of the experience, Corpsmembers who can hear learn American Sign Language and other lessons throughout their term of service so that they can better communicate with their peers.

“We give them flash cards and some lessons to go over, so they can learn basic signs to communicate with the Deaf youth… The growth that occurs with communication over the next five weeks is very impressive… To see that growth is really exciting.” says Gruening.

Gruening says that after an initial period of acclimation, the ASL Inclusion crews have a similar experience to other crews.

“They have the same amount of challenges any other crew would have: they are all out of their comfort zones, not being able to sleep in their beds, no showers, not being able to go on their cell phones.”

Each of the crews in the summer program get to meet during the weekends. The first couple of weeks are a little shaky but through fun activities and bonding experiences, the crews get better every day at communicating to the point where they don’t require an interpreter.

The ASL Inclusion Crew program at Northwest Youth Corps is about so much more than land conservation and leadership development. It’s about uniting Deaf youth and hearing youth so that they have a common experience.

Gruening remarks that “I wish people could see what I see, when I see all the youth the first week off in their own little corner like really shy and quiet, you know? Not really wanting to engage with everyone. Then by the end of the five weeks they are this huge group that have learned to overcome the communication barrier. While also just learning to have fun and work with each other, even though it might be difficult.”

You can watch a video demonstration advertising the ASL InclusionCrew program below:

Photos of the Month: July 2015

Keep up the good work posting all of your photos and memories! They say an image is worth a thousand words. Therefore, each photo has a story behind it that we would like to see! Which is why we take some of our favorites that you shared and put them on our blog. Here you can see the photos we hand picked for July! Wow that was fast, now get ready to snap more photos for August!

 


American Conservation Experience

 


American Youthworks

 


Anchorage Park Foundation/Youth Employment in Parks (YEP)

 


Arizona Conservation Corps

 


Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa

 


Greening Youth Foundation

 


Kupu

 


Larimer County Conservation

 


Maine Conservation Corps

 


Montana Conservation Corps

 


Montana Conservation Corps 2

 


PowerCorps PHL

 


Rocky Mountain Youth Corps

 


Rocky Mountain Youth Corps

 


Southeast Conservation Corps

 


Texas State Parks Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy

 


Vermont Youth Conservation Corps

 


Western Colorado Conservation Corps

 


WisCorps – Wisconsin Youth Conservation Corps, Inc.
 

 

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