2014 National Conference Photos

 

Where are they now? Updates from The 2014 Corpsmembers of the Year

 

Jon Brito 

Since the conference I have completed my fellowship with Hawaii Energy through a program of Kupu, called RISE. Through various technical retrofits and behavior changing programs, we helped save tens of thousands of kWh from Hawaii's electrical grid. This saved barrels of oil used and reduced CO2 emissions across the board.

I am still in school, still working towards my Electronic Computer Engineering degree on Maui through the University of Maui. I am also working on a GIS certification.

Something I have gained through my experience in the Corps is some amazing networking opportunities. Doing my GIS certification has led us to map out some of Maui's premiere environments and preserves. There is also this need to continue my work in conservation even though I currently am not directly employed.

I still continue to volunteer at the fishpond, and have cleared a whole shoreline of the invasive mangrove. Roughly 3 acres have been removed from the time I started at the fishpond. Currently I am still looking for more volunteer opportunities, but I am lucky because on Maui they are plentiful.


 

Edgar Galvez

Hi, everyone. This is Edgar Galvez - I attended The Corps Network 2014 conference as a Corpsmember of the Year. Let me tell you, that conference was amazing. I had a blast in DC, and getting to know the other Corpsmembers of the year. After the conference I came back home and started working for the union.  There have been so many projects that I’ve been working on, like schools, freeways, bridges. It's been incredible to see how things are built and destroyed.

I also go back to Fresno YouthBuild and talk to the new Corpsmembers that are coming in about my life, and how the Corps changed my life, and how it could happen to any of them if they truly believe in themselves.

The other wonderful thing that happened after the conference is that my wife just gave birth to my baby boy, Damian. It's truly a blessing.

What I gained from the conference is public speaking experience. That was my biggest fear or obstacle, but ever since I read my speech in front of all those people I believe in myself more. When it's time to speak in a group or conference, I think I can handle it now. 


 

Eliseo Nunez 

I woke up this morning and noticed my doormat was backwards. Instead of wondering what happened, right away my love for life made it clear.

“Welcome to planet earth, anything is possible!”

Since my trip to D.C. I’ve really been putting in the time and effort to make San Diego a better place. Clearly it has not only been an amazing opportunity for me to grow, but I feel that I have planted thousands of seeds. For starters, I am now a full time supervisor with San Diego Urban Corps. I find it hard to forget where it all began. My plan is to be the best supervisor I can be and to keep furthering my education. When it’s time to go, I’ll have such an amazing bag of tools I can use out there to keep making my city a beautiful place.

The San Diego Union Tribune has written two articles about me, the city council has awarded me with my own day in early March. Last night I just got a certificate of appreciation signed by an honorable judge here with the superior court. Everyone asks who, what, why?

Well, going back to my doormat. Nothing has changed, I welcome each day with open arms. I do my best to find the gain in the pain, the good in the bad, and the happy in the sad. Thank you guys for sharing these special moments with me and I pledge to continue to take it one day at a time!!!!!


 

Linda Santana

Since the conference, I’ve moved back to Los Angeles, CA. During the summer, most of my time was spent volunteering at a high school and doing things with my family. Most recently I got a job working for an afterschool program. I work with 2nd grade students, not only helping them with their homework but also providing them with other activities that will allow them to be successful.

As I reflect back on the past year and my term with RMYC, I can’t help but feel grateful for the experience the Corps provided me with. It inspired me, gave me confidence and provided me with personal growth. Although currently I’m not working in an outdoor/ conservation field, the skills I learned have helped me tremendously. My leadership skills have improved, I’m more assertive when it comes to getting things done but I’m also conscious of when I need to step back and allow others to do their job. I learned to have patience and let things go. Living in L.A. my personal as well as professional lifestyle are different but I still find time to go on occasional hikes and am trying my best to live a healthier and more fit lifestyle. 


 

 

Ruby Simonian

After my California Conservation Corps experience, I am now working for State parks in the beautiful redwoods of northern California. I will always take my corps experience with me in my future endeavors and will forever be grateful for my past excursions. I plan on continuing school and working towards my goal to become an ecopsychologist.

 

 


 

Candace Washington

Since the conference I have continued being actively engaged in public environmental events. Shortly after the conference I was invited to New York City for a fundraiser for Civicorps by Reeta, she is on the board of directors for Civicorps.  In May I was asked to be the emcee and say a speech to over two hundred people for Civicorps’ Gala. This was also an event to raise money for corpsmembers who graduated and went off to college.

I am still enrolled and attending community college where I am earning my credits needed to transfer. Currently I am working at the City of Oakland Environmental Services division; I received a one year extension. I was also offered a possible permanent position that pays twice as much as what I make now with the City of Oakland Public works call center. I have accepted the offer and I will start next year once I have a full two years of public experience.

Meet The Corps Network's 2014 Award Winners!

We are very excited to announce our 2014 Award Winners! They will each be honored at our National Conference in February. Please click on the links to read their stories. 


Projects of the Year

Each year The Corps Network awards several noteworthy endeavors from Corps with Project of the Year Awards. Here are links to stories about this year's winners.

Orange County Conservation Corps Partners with Disneyland on Innovative “Adopt-A-Channel” Program

Fresno Local Conservation Corps Helps Prepare New Home for Veterans

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps Boost Local Economy and Walkability of Vermont's Capital City


Legacy Achievement Award

The Corps Network Legacy Achievement Award recognizes leaders with approximately 20 or more years of contribution to the Corps movement, who have served in a senior leadership position of a Service or Conservation Corps or multiple Corps, and who have made a significant contribution to the movement (e.g. founded a corps, brought a corps to scale, served for approximately 15+ years as ED/CEO of a corps, or who have made a significant national contribution through developing a national project). This year's winner's include

David Muraki
Executive Director, California Conservation Corps

Scott Weaver
Senior Vice President, Government & Agency Affairs, Student Conservation Association

Leslie Wilkoff
Director of AmeriCorps Programs, The Corps Network


Corpsmembers of the Year / Corps Ambassadors

Each year The Corps Network honors Service and Conservation Corpsmembers whose accomplishments and personal stories exemplify the positive role that Corps serve for individuals and communities nationwide. They help serve as Corps Ambassadors, or spokespeople for the Corps Movement. 2014 winners include

Jon Brito
Kupu / Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps

Edgar Galvez
Fresno Local Conservation Corps

Eliseo Nunez  
Urban Corps of San Diego County

Linda Santana
Rocky Mountain Youth Corps

Ruby Simonian 
California Conservation Corps

Candace Washington
Civicorps

Boiler Plate: 
We are very excited to announce our 2014 Award Winners! They will each be honored at our National Conference in February. Please click on the links to read each of their stories.

2014 Corpsmember of the Year, Jon Brito



Jon Brito
AmeriCorps member - KUPU - Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps
Molokai, HI

 

The island of Molokai, Hawaii has fewer than 7,400 residents. Much of the population is of Hawaiian descent and many people still rely heavily on subsistence agriculture. The island has no traffic lights, no major stores and just one high school. Life on Molokai is slow-paced and pleasant, but the island offers few opportunities and is home to the highest unemployment rate in Hawaii (11.4% in October 2013, compared to a state unemployment rate of 4.4%). However, this statistic has never discouraged 2014 Corpsmember of the Year Jon Brito.

Jon grew up in the town of Kualapu’u, located roughly in the center of the island. After graduating from Molokai High School in 2008, Jon immersed himself in the world of environmental conservation as an AmeriCorps member with KUPU’s Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps (HYCC). Upon completing his term with HYCC, Jon travelled to California to attend Humboldt State University. Inspired by his Corps, he enrolled in Humboldt’s Environmental Resources Engineering program. In 2012, Jon decided to take a year off from school so he could return home to gain work experience and earn money. Remembering how much he enjoyed his time with HYCC, Jon took a position with the program as an AmeriCorps team leader.

“…I enjoyed going away to college, [but] I really felt my calling here at home in Hawaii,” said Jon. “I got some amazing work experience and network connections, but I decided to transfer home to be in a program geared towards working in and benefitting Hawaii.”

Spending the summer mentoring Molokai youth as an AmeriCorps member was an empowering experience for Jon. He excelled as a team leader and served as a positive role model for HYCC Corpsmembers in whose place he had stood just four years earlier.

Jon had found his place in the Corps. At the end of the summer, he decided to continue his service by accepting a year-long AmeriCorps position with HYCC. He spent the 2012-2013 term as an intern at Ka Honua Momona (KHM), a Molokai-based nonprofit that seeks to revitalize natural and cultural resources and create connections between the Hawaiian people, their heritage and the environment. All the while, Jon continued to spread the word about HYCC and encouraged Molokai youth to join the Corps.

During Jon’s year-long internship with KHM, KUPU was unable to find a suitable team leader for the summer 2013 HYCC Molokai program. Knowing the fate of the program was at stake, Jon volunteered to put his internship on hold and subsequently served as the HYCC team leader for the second year in a row. At the end of the summer, he picked up where he had left at Ka Honua Momona and successfully completed his internship.

Jon currently lives on the island of Maui, where he attends the University of Hawaii, Maui College. He is enrolled in the school’s Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology program and plans to one day use his education to help Hawaii reach energy independence. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2010 Hawaii imported some 94% of its energy and had the highest electricity prices in the United States.

“I strongly feel that the future of Hawaii depends on locally produced energy and goods,” said Jon. “From reducing our carbon footprint, to [ensuring] energy and food security; this is our future and what we will leave to the next generation.”

In addition to his school responsibilities, Jon serves as an energy efficiency and agriculture intern with KUPU’s vocational training program, RISE. In this position, Jon works with Maui’s business and agriculture sectors to improve the sustainability of their operations.

As his supervisors say, “Jon has a heart of gold and is a truly selfless person with all the right intentions.” As the only KUPU Corpsmember to have served in the RISE program as well as three HYCC programs, it goes without saying that Jon is dedicated to Corps and environmental sustainability.

“I believe with an absolution that only good comes out of what Corps do,” said Jon. “It is my firm belief that Corps empower people to do good in this world.”

Boiler Plate: 
As his supervisors say, “Jon has a heart of gold and is a truly selfless person with all the right intensions.” As the only KUPU Corpsmember to have served in the RISE program as well as three HYCC programs, it goes without saying that Jon is dedicated to Corps and environmental sustainability.