Photos of the Month: December 2015

An Interview with Len Price, a 2016 Corps Legacy Achievement Award Winner

Len Price of Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa was selected as a 2016 Corps Legacy Achivement Award Winner. We interviewed Len to learn more about him and his experience in the Corps movement. Click here to read Len's bio. 

How did you become involved in Service and Conservation Corps?  What were you doing before?

My knowledge of the Conservation Corps did not occur until my Legislative days. In the 1990s, the Corps ( known then as MCC or Minnesota Conservation Corps) was part of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and as such was funded through the budgeting process for that State Agency. As a committee member of the Minnesota State Senate Finance Division that had jurisdiction over that budget, I heard about the program and supported its funding. In the state budget proposal for the 2001-2003 budget there was no funding offered for the Minnesota Conservation Corps. I was approached by Corps members at one of my senate Legislative Town meetings to try to figure out how to prevent the proposed cut to the funding and in essence end the Corps’ existence.

I was then Chairman of the Senate Finance Division for Natural Resources and championed the Corps funding and held the position through the Legislative process and conference committee  for the State Budget and the Corps emerged with funding to keep it intact as a 501 c 3 nonprofit and saved from extinction.

I was not reelected to the State Senate in the next election (2002), and  was asked to join the Corps Board of Directors in 2003. With a bleak outlook for funding, the Executive Director for the Corps left.  I was asked to apply for the position, was hired, and began work as the Executive Director in January of 2005. I am retiring December 31, 2015 after 11 years of service.

Prior to the ED position at the Corps (2005-2011), I was a classroom teacher at a suburban high school for 34 years (1965-1999) and concurrently a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate for 20 years (1983-2002). I have always had an interest in youth issues-employment and training. The Corps work seemed like a good fit.


Who are some of your heroes?  What did they do to inspire you? 

Among my heroes are my parents, both hard working Greatest Generation individuals who lived through the Great Depression and World War Two. They gave me the values and ethics that have guided my life. The late Minnesota State Representative Willard Munger gave me the inspiration and tenacity to use the legislative process to help protect and sustain natural resources. I was also inspired by President John Kennedy’s challenge, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. I took that to heart and became a social studies teacher.


Describe some of your most memorable experiences working with Corps programs.

Every day there are memorable experiences associated with the Corps and Corps’ programs. To see first hand the change in youth and young adults after their term of service or completion of a project or a days’ work provides me with great satisfaction. To give individuals a chance to have new experiences outdoors and be involved in a tactile manner; to see the personal growth, the skill changes, the attitude changes and the appreciation of caring for the environment and each other; and the improvements made to a stream, trail, shoreline, forest, landscape, or a public place and the team spirit that develops in the process provides me with a very warm feeling. As an example, I’ll not forget the day a crew of six teenagers, including two deaf corps members, successfully and safely dismantled a problematic beaver dam in the Minnesota wilderness. They carefully and strategically repositioned themselves in order to extract each carefully constructed stick in the beaver dam. They emerged from the water coated with mud, filthy and smelling like the rank water in which they toiled for about 45 minutes. The joy on their faces of such an accomplishment is etched in my mind. They wore the mud proudly like medals for the rest of the day. Together with their crew companions they had experienced a once in a life time activity. The face of the crew leader reflected the elation of a job well done…of what a successful day had become.


Given your experience, what is the primary piece of wisdom you could provide to Corpsmembers?

As a corpsmember, remember it is okay to ask questions, to learn new things, to be supportive of team members, and to relish the new things that you can experience. You are not alone in not knowing. Embrace the chance, the adventure and be supportive of others.


What is the primary piece of wisdom you would provide to staff at Corps?

As a staff person, you have the chance to influence your charges, your crew, in so many ways. You are a mentor, a role model, an authority figure, a counselor, and an influence for life. Ask participants in programs from the past and they will likely share the profound ways that you affected them emotionally. Staff in leadership positions, carry the burden of perpetuating the reputation of the Corps movement and sometimes the sustainability of the Corps mission. It is you that must take up the mantle for the future of the Corps and national service- you must be an advocate, an educator to the public, that does not know or understand what the Corps is and what impacts it has on individual lives and the social good and value-added that Corps programs produce. You must be the storyteller and the role model.


In the future, what developments would you like to see happen in the Corps movement?

If I were king, I would require all high school graduates and school drop-outs to serve at least one year of service in a community and service activity before they pursue post- secondary schooling or work related training. Ideally it would not necessarily need to be just in the natural resource world. It would allow time for many young people to have some world experience, grow up a bit, and help many worthy causes and the needs of communities. Exception to the requirement would be for military service. As king I would not hesitate to provide the necessary funding to make such a worthy and noble cause become reality.


What do you hope your legacy will be?

I hope my legacy is that I was part of caring for others and my community and that programs like Corps will be in existence for opportunities forever. Participation to that end will help us take care of public places and spaces and” restore resources and change lives”.



An Interview with Dwight Washabaugh, a 2016 Corps Legacy Achievement Award Winner

Dwight Washabaugh of Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps was selected as a 2016 Corps Legacy Achivement Award Winner. We interviewed Dwight to learn more about him and his experience in the Corps movement. Click here to read Dwight's bio. 

How did you become involved in Service and Conservation Corps?  What were you doing before?

For 20 plus years prior to being involved with Service and Conservation Corps, I had been the Controller, Director of Development and Executive Director for a faith based organization. Next I did independent consulting for nonprofit organization for 3+ years facilitating strategic planning, consulting related to data management and serving as a contract administrator for a nonprofit organization.

While it is unheard of in today’s world, I was reviewing the job classified ads in two northern California newspapers and found the Sacramento Regional (Local at that time) Conservation Corps was seeking an Executive Director.  The combination of working with youth and the environment peeked my interest and I applied; and thirty days later I was offered the position and began a steep learning curve with a wonderful 21+ year career until I retired March 31, 2015.


Who are some of your heroes?  What did they do to inspire you?

Two groups:

  • Historical

Jesus – Inspired by his teachings and his actions.

Abraham Lincoln – Inspired by his leadership skills and determined focus.

  • Personal

A.     Business man and board member in my first nonprofit experience who when he graduated with his MBA from Harvard, his goal was to be president over the years of 10 different companies.  He has accomplished that goal.  I was inspired by his combined focus of the mission of the organization and the bottom line to create a successful organization and program.

B.     Ira Okun and Bruce Saito within the Corps movement:  I was inspired by both men as they helped me with the steep learning curve of directing a Corps and building relationships with government leaders.


Describe some of your most memorable experiences working with Corps programs.

My most memorable experiences occurred between me and the corpsmembers.  Topping the list were the opportunities to hear their stories about how they grew and were successful during their participation in the Corps program.  These experiences were much greater than the mere statistical accomplishments.  Their successes brought deep convictions of change in their lives, which also brought a richness to our community and to my personal experience.


Given your experience, what is the primary piece of wisdom you could provide to Corpsmembers?

I would share with corpsmembers the importance of letting go of the past and to focus on the opportunities they can achieve going forward. Be proud of who you are and strive to do your very best in every endeavor.  Begin by investing the time in the Corps program and   opportunities that are available to you, and participate fully.  Be honest with yourself and others.


What is the primary piece of wisdom you would provide to staff at Corps?

Work as a team to provide a strong, viable and meaningful program that supports, encourages and challenges each corpsmember participant.  Demonstrate to the Corpsmembers that each staff member cares.  Each staff member must “model” him/herself in his/herself day-to-day actions as a professional, caring person and leader.  Actions speak louder than words.


In the future, what developments would you like to see happen in the Corps movement?

The Corps movement today and the original Civilian Conservation Corps of the Depression era is a well kept public secret.  I would like to see a comprehensive ongoing National marketing plan using television, bill boards, newspapers and social media that spreads the word about Service and Conservation Corps and the multiple benefits to every community.

Secondly, I would like to see federal funding, similar to that of Job Corps for Service and Conservation Corps that would compliment State and local funded work training and service projects.


What do you hope your legacy will be?

My hope is that my legacy has built a strong foundation for the continued growth of the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps as a significant part of the community fabric serving young men and women in the region with training and education while providing a meaningful workforce for important urban conservation and environmental needs.


Dan Knapp Named New Executive Director of Conservation Corps of Long Beach

For Immediate Release

Date: December 15, 2015


Mike Bassett, Executive Director/CEO
Conservation Corps of Long Beach
340 Nieto Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90814
(562) 986-1249


Conservation Corps of Long Beach and Conservation Corps of Long Beach Gateway Cities Charter School Announces New Executive Director

The Selection Committee of the Conservation Corps of Long Beach and the Board of Directors of the Conservation Corps of Long Beach Gateway Cities Charter School are proud to announce the selection of Mr. Dan Knapp as the new Executive Director for the Conservation Corps of Long Beach and the Conservation Corps of Long Beach Gateway Charter School, succeeding Mr. Mike Bassett. Mr. Knapp will begin his duties February 1, 2016. Mike Bassett will be retiring in February, 2016 after serving as Executive Director for over 24 years. The selection was made after a nationwide search and selection process.

Dan Knapp’s resume includes over 19 years’ experience in the non-profit sector with extensive knowledge in project and business development, grant writing and agency advocacy. He comes to the Conservation Corps of Long Beach/ Conservation Corps of Long Beach Gateway Cities Charter School after serving as Deputy Director for the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, the largest non-profit Conservation Corps in the nation. Dan is a graduate of California State University Long Beach and has served as a dedicated member of several local boards and groups including the California Center for Economic Initiatives, Southern California Mountains Foundation (Finance Committee Chair) and the Conservation Corps State Museum.

"As an ardent believer in the conservation corps model as a means for youth and community development, I’m honored and look forward to serving the greater Long Beach region as the new CEO of the Conservation Corps of Long Beach,” remarks Dan Knapp.  “I’m thrilled to join the CCLB team and excited to meet and work with the young people we serve!"

The Conservation Corps of Long Beach was established by a group of concerned business owners, local community leaders and citizens in 1987. The Corps has been serving young people 18-25 for the last 28 years, providing paid work experience and educational opportunities. In 2014, the Conservation Corps of Long Beach opened its own Charter School, the Conservation Corps of Long Beach Gateway Cities Charter School that serves 18-25 year olds looking to complete their high school diploma. For more information, contact Mike Bassett, Executive Director/CEO at (562) 986-1249.

New Policies Create Opportunities for Waders in the Water-trained Youth

Submitted by Luke Frazza
Trout Headwaters, Inc.

New Waters in the Water students can now take advantage of a revised syllabus, a new edition training manual, and numerous EcoBlu Analyst platform updates. All these improvements coincide with the just announced federal conservation policies by the White House, and immediately echoed by the Dept. of Interior, that will create many new opportunities for Waders in the Water certified Conservation Corpsmembers.

These new directives mandate federal agencies to give preference to advance compensation mechanisms like mitigation banks to offset unavoidable environmental impacts from new development, infrastructure, and energy exploration.

Michael Sprague, Trout Headwaters CEO and Waders in the Water instructor, consulted with DOI, USFWS, and BLM for several years before issuance of these new directives. The new policies incorporate many of the principles of compensatory mitigation outlined in the National Mitigation Banking Association's Universal Principles of Compensatory Mitigation report released in July of 2015 which Sprague co-authored.

Let your Corpsmembers train with those who truly understand the restoration economy.   Register Here Now!

The restoration community is ramping-up in response, and increasing investments in conservation projects on private and public lands, adding to the already rapidly expanding U.S. restoration industry that now creates more than 120,000 jobs and nearly $10B in direct economic activity every year.

In response to the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps' (21CSC) effort to put young people and veterans to work nationwide, the Waders in the Water green jobs training and certification was specifically designed under a public-private partnership between The Corps Network and Trout Headwaters, Inc.

Waders in the Water:

  • introduces students to sustainable aquatic restoration techniques by teaching them how to improve the climate-resiliency of our streams, rivers, and wetlands
  • offers them an opportunity to earn an industry-recognized credential
  • is the only private restoration industry-recognized program for the installation of aquatic restoration projects
  • inspires participants to become the next generation of stewards of our natural and cultural resources

According to Adam Davis, Partner and Director of Research, Policy, & New Markets for Ecosystem Investment Partners in San Rafael, California:

"A highly-trained Youth Corps workforce will be a powerful tool for the restoration economy. There is certainly no shortage of work to be done." 

And Michael Gaffney of the White Mountain Youth Corps remarked:

"I think the training/certification gives our partners and potential partners more confidence that we're serious about restoration work and that we can be a trusted source for their restoration implementation plans." 

The Restoration Economy is calling. Register Here for an upcoming Waders in the Water class

The next two-day training takes place:       

  • Thurs. Dec. 17, 2015 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EST
  • Fri.      Dec. 18, 2015 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EST

This Training meets 2 times. Attendees are expected to attend both sessions.

Class size is limited so Register Here Today!

Contact Luke Frazza with any questions


Photos of the Month: November 2015

Wildfire Funding Critical to Protect and Defend America's Natural Resources

California Conservation Corps


Originally published by Nation of Change - 11/19/15

Wildfires are raging in many states around the U.S. This year, over 8.8 million acres burned by mid-September, nearing the number of acres burned during the same timeframe in 2006, one of the worst wildfire seasons on record. 2015 is poised to meet and even surpass that record.

Fighting wildfires is both difficult and expensive. The U.S. Forest Service alone spent over $1.1 billion on fire suppression in 2014. While federal land management agencies expect to spend a certain percentage of their annual budgets on firefighting, that percentage continues to increase as wildfire seasons grow longer.

Due to the effects of climate change, fire seasons are on average 78 days longer than they were in the ‘70s. In 2015, the Forest Service expects to spend 52 per­cent of its budget on fire suppression. In comparison, 16 percent of the budget went to fire suppression in 1995. A new report estimates that nearly 70 percent of the Forest Service’s budget will be devoted to fire suppression by 2025. Wildfires are causing more damage than ever before, yet budgets are not keeping pace.

The current funding mechanism for fighting wildfires forces land management agencies to divert funds that otherwise would support routine maintenance and improvement projects as well as preventative measures that reduce wildfire risk. When more than half of the Forest Service’s budget is spent on wildfire suppression, less than half is available for maintaining habitats and the trails, roads, and bridges that make our national forests environmentally healthy and accessible to the public.

There is a clear solution to this problem:  make federal disaster funding available for wildfire suppression. Congress included $700 million in the Continuing Resolution to repay the Forest Service for funds that were transferred to firefighting, but the system of repaying the land management agencies on an annual basis is inefficient. Congress can fix this by passing the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (WDFA): a bi-partisan proposal that would fund wildfire suppression in a similar manner to how the government currently funds the response to hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters.

Passage of the WDFA is now more important than ever as Congress recently failed to act on bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Since its creation in 1965, LWCF has protected national parks and forests with the royalties from oil and gas drilling, not taxpayer dollars. LWCF helps reduce wildfire fighting costs by protecting water supplies from development and allowing firefighters to manage fire efficiently across public lands.

Further, with the passage of WDFA more of the Forest Service’s budget would be available for routine maintenance and programs like the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC): an initiative that engages youth and returning veterans in public lands maintenance projects, including forest thinning and other activities that mitigate the impact of future wildfires. Utilizing the 21CSC would also help provide job training to America’s next generation of land managers.

America’s parks and public lands provide precious natural resources, but Congress is not doing its part to protect and defend our heritage. Congress needs to pass the WDFA to ensure that the U.S. Forest Service has the funding it needs to fight wildfires, and it needs to reauthorize and fully fund the LWCF to ensure that we are able to continue to maintain and protect our natural resources for future generations.


The Corps Network Sends Sign-On Letter in Support of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act to Capitol Hill and the Administration

*Versions of this letter were sent to officials in the Obama Administration as well as staff from the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House and Senate Natural Resources Committees. 

November 10, 2015

To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of The Corps Network’s Service and Conservation Corps (Corps) across the country, we write to respectfully request your support for the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, H.R. 167 and S. 235. This important legislation will reform how wildfire suppression is funded in order to significantly minimize the harmful practice of transferring funds from critical programs to pay for wildfire suppression. The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would fund response to the most disastrous wildfires similar to how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds other disaster response under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. Instead of competing with funding for response to other natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes, wildfire disasters would have their own relief mechanism.

The Corps Network’s 100+ Corps are diverse in mission and membership and strive to improve quality of life for our participants and in our communities. From building trails and campgrounds on our nation’s iconic public lands, to responding to natural disasters and wildfire remediation and fighting, Corps provide communities with valuable services, improve lives, and the environment. Increasing disasters such as fires, risk the lives of Corpsmembers as well as interrupt other recreation, maintenance, and economic development activities on public lands.

Wildfire seasons are getting longer and major wildfires are becoming increasingly more costly to suppress. This national problem is causing a crippling burden on the Department of the Interior and the USDA Forest Service’s land management functions as they shift resources to fund suppression activities. Federal wildfire suppression will always be fully funded by the government – even if it comes at the expense of programs that improve forest health and mitigate future wildfires. However, this current ad hoc process of funding wildfire is inefficient and ineffective in delivering on nationwide agency land management priorities set by Congress and virtually assures that overall federal outlays will increase.

We believe a solution to fire funding should: 1) allow access to disaster funding; 2) minimize impacts from transfers; and 3) address the increasing costs of suppression over time. The WDFA, (S. 235, H.R. 167) is a bipartisan proposal that addresses these three items. We encourage you to incorporate WDFA language in the FY2016 appropriations or other related legislative vehicles moving through Congress to ensure this serious budgetary issue is addressed this year.

Additionally, since the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was not reauthorized in the most recent Continuing Resolution and the fund continues to be used to pay for wildfire suppression, it is also important that take action be taken to fully fund and reauthorize LWCF. Without LWCF, access to our public lands is diminished and proactive forest management provided through LWCF’s Forest Legacy Program is reduced. We cannot afford for conservation programs like LWCF to bear the burden of wildfire suppression and fighting.

We again respectfully urge your support for Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (WDFA) language in the FY16 appropriations omnibus or passage through other must-pass legislative vehicles. The WDFA is a critical, important step to ensure the long-term sustainability of our nation’s forests and other public lands and our Corps stand ready to continue helping manage and improve our nation’s important natural resources and great outdoors.


Mary Ellen Sprenkel

The Member Corps of The Corps Network

Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center Courier: Vol. 2, Issue 3 - November 2015

Photos of the Month: October 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 October 2015. 


California Conservation Corps


Utah Conservation Corps 

LA Conservation Corps 

Arizona Conservation Corps 

Larimer County Conservation Corps 

Mile High Youth Corps 

Northwest Youth Corps 

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps 

Washington Conservation Corps 

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - New Mexico 

Heart of Oregon Corps 



California Conservation Corps