Video: John Griffith and his CCC Crew Teach the Bioblitz Dance

 

Learn how to do the Bioblitz Dance from John Griffith and his California Conservation Corps crew.

20 Years Ago—The Northridge California Earthquake & the California Conservation Corps

Corpsmembers dismantling a cracked chimney in Santa Clarita.

On January 17, 1994, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Northridge, shook Southern California.  Within hours, the California Conservation Corps began to mobilize, and had its first crews helping with cleanup work the very next day.

During the peak of the CCC's efforts, more than 500 corpsmembers were dispatched.  They assisted with water distribution, tent cities, Disaster Application Centers, and general debris cleanup, including the dismantling of 315 damaged chimneys.  Oil-spill trained corpsmembers were also needed as the earthquake caused an oil pipeline to rupture.

Several months later, after 170,000 hours of work, the CCC set up its Northridge Earthquake Recovery Corps, funded through the Job Training Partnership Act.  Two hundred local young people were hired from the areas impacted by the quake.

Story Provided by the Charming Staff of the California Conservation Corps

Boiler Plate: 
On January 17, 1994, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Northridge, shook Southern California. Within hours, the California Conservation Corps began to mobilize, and had its first crews helping with cleanup work the very next day.

Thank you for 35 years of support

Editor's Note: The following op-ed was originally published by San Luis Obispo's The Tribune. The above photo was tweeted to The Corps Network by Domenic's son. He looks like a cool guy for sure.


BY DOMENIC SANTANGELO

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/12/19/2842267/thank-you-for-35-years-of-support.html#storylink=cpy

I started my career in the California Conservation Corps heading up to Calaveras County, which I’d never heard of before. I didn’t know a whole lot about the CCC, either, back in 1978. But what I wouldn’t have guessed is that I’d spend the next 35 years with the program, most of those years here in San Luis Obispo.

I’m retiring from the CCC at the end of December, and it’s bittersweet. There have been challenges, yes, but the community support we’ve received over the years has been nothing short of amazing. That, together with the young people we call corpsmembers and the work we’ve been able to do throughout the county and region — you couldn’t find a more rewarding job.

The CCC is a state agency offering young people between 18 and 25 a year of service and training in natural resource work and emergency response. We have a residential center here in San Luis Obispo, the Los Padres Center, located behind Cuesta College. It’s home to 80 corpsmembers, men and women from the whole spectrum of ethnic backgrounds. Some are from big cities, some from rural areas, some from around here. A few have taken college classes, others are working on their high school diplomas. All in all, they represent the diversity of California.

These corpsmembers are not “bad kids,” and in fact cannot join if they are on probation or parole. They’re here for many reasons — to work outdoors, acquire some job experience and training, get their lives on track, earn a paycheck.

We try our best to provide a caring and positive environment enabling our corpsmembers to grow and learn. But in the years I’ve been with the CCC in San Luis Obispo, I never cease to be amazed at the transformations made over their months in the Corps. We change lives, we really do. And calls from former corpsmembers, reflecting on their CCC days five, 10 or 20 years later, mean more than you can imagine.

I’m often asked, “Have young adults changed much since I came to the Corps?” I really don’t think so. The faces change, the names change, but corpsmembers are still navigating those transition years after high school, and, for most, trying to figure out what to do next. Despite the physical labor and long days — our motto is “Hard work, low pay, miserable conditions … and more!” Our corpsmembers hold this motto in high esteem, like a badge of honor. They work extremely hard every day meeting the challenge.

That’s not hard to understand, since we are blessed to work for agencies and organizations such as California State Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program , the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, the city of San Luis Obispo, Cambria Community Services District, Friends of the Elephant Seal and so many more.

If you’ve hiked up the trail to Bishop Peak, or maybe the Bob Jones trail, the CCC has worked there. Or maybe you’ve seen us involved in fish habitat work along the creeks. We’ve also helped restore historic buildings such as the Oceano Depot and the Point San Luis Lighthouse.

The CCC had a popular summer youth corps a few years back, hiring 60 local high school students in five different cities, with the help of the SLO Workforce Investment Board and Cuesta College. We’ve participated in work exchanges with programs in Montana and Australia. And we volunteer at local activities most weekends, whether it’s working at community gardens, dog parks or festivals.

Not only local residents reap the benefits. It’s also great to walk along the boardwalk we put in at Moonstone Beach in Cambria and hear so many different languages from the international visitors. The benefits of our work to the region’s economy is obvious.

We also have a major role in emergency response, sending crews locally and throughout the state: The Highway 41 and Las Pilitas fires; Avila Beach and San Luis Creek oil spills; The San Simeon Earthquake. Last month we trained our crews to be ready to respond to winter floods or storms, wherever they’re needed.

My proudest moments have come in the relatively few periods of adversity. During tough economic times, our center has been threatened with closure three times. But the outpouring of bipartisan support from community members and local officials without a doubt helped turn those decisions around. It could not have been more gratifying for us.

Back in 1977, the CCC decided to locate its very first center in San Luis Obispo. A good decision that has stood the test of time, and to which thousands of corpsmembers and hundreds of work sponsors can attest.

Thank you, San Luis Obispo County, for your ongoing support and encouragement over all these years. You are certainly one of the reasons for our success.

I’ll miss my work with the CCC, but you’re in good hands. I’m leaving a strong staff that will carry on the Corps’ efforts throughout the county and beyond. Hope to see you on the trails.

Domenic Santangelo is the center director of the California Conservation Corps’ Los Padres Center. He and his wife, Patty, live in Atascadero.

Boiler Plate: 
I’m retiring from the CCC at the end of December, and it’s bittersweet. There have been challenges, yes, but the community support we’ve received over the years has been nothing short of amazing. That, together with the young people we call corpsmembers and the work we’ve been able to do throughout the county and region — you couldn’t find a more rewarding job.

California Conservation Corps Sends Crews to Big Sur Fire

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

It may be December, but members of the California Conservation Corps were still sent to a forest fire.  Thirty corpsmembers from the CCC's Monterey Bay Center were dispatched Monday to the Pfeiffer Fire in the Big Sur area. 

The corpsmembers are assisting the U.S. Forest Service with logistical support at the fire camp.

The fire, located in the Los Padres National Forest, destroyed at least a dozen homes, including one belonging to the local fire chief.

Boiler Plate: 
It may be December, but members of the California Conservation Corps were still sent to a forest fire. Thirty corpsmembers from the CCC's Monterey Bay Center were dispatched Monday to the Pfeiffer Fire in the Big Sur area.

2014 Corps Legacy Achievement Award Winner, David Muraki



David Muraki 
California Conservation Corps

 

Click here to Read an Interview with
David Muarki 

David is the first Director of the California Conservation Corps to have “risen from the ranks.”  He initially joined the CCC in January 1978, spending over 60 weeks living out of a tent and supervising three trail crews in the
backcountry of Yosemite National Park. In 1979, he started the CCC’s iconic Backcountry Trails Project that has gone on to field 176 crews, build and maintain 10,840 miles of trails in national and state parks, forests, and wilderness areas throughout the state.  At the CCC’s Del Norte Center, David founded the salmon and steelhead restoration program that received the Robert Rodale/Renew America Award for the top fisheries conservation program in the nation and the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award. 

David served on the staff of the CCC in numerous capacities until 1996. From ‘96 until his return to the CCC in 2007, David served as deputy director for California Volunteers, where he led public policy efforts and supported AmeriCorps national service and disaster volunteer programs. Upon David’s return to the CCC as Director, he soon became the Chair of The Corps Network’s Corps Council and was appointed to the federal advisory committee on the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC).  In addition, he serves on the California Biodiversity Council and the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council.

David’s extraordinary dedication to the Corps is due, in part, to his deep program knowledge and love of young people; David’s experience as a crew supervisor, project coordinator and center director at a CCC center provide him the “street cred” to engender loyalty and respect from field staff and Corpsmembers.  

Boiler Plate: 
David is the first Director of the California Conservation Corps to have “risen from the ranks.” He initially joined the CCC in January 1978, spending over 60 weeks living out of a tent and supervising three trail crews in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park. In 1979, he started the CCC’s iconic Backcountry Trails Project that has gone on to field 176 crews, build and maintain 10,840 miles of trails in national and state parks, forests, and wilderness areas throughout the state.

2014 Corpsmember of the Year, Ruby Simonian


Ruby Simonian
AmeriCorps member - California Conservation Corps
Ukiah, CA

 

Ruby Simonian is the first of several of her family members to have participated as an AmeriCorps member in the California Conservation Corps. Soon after she joined the Corps in June 2011, Ruby’s twin brother Dylan also became a Corpsmember. Most recently, their brother Chris joined the CCC. When asked about his determination, Chris says he has his sister Ruby to look up to.

Before Ruby came to the CCC, she was making sandwiches at a Subway shop and not doing much else with her life. When her mother suggested she research the Corps, Ruby knew she had to give it a try. AmeriCorps and the CCC offered everything she was looking for: job experience, life experience, and independence.

Since enrolling in the Corps, Ruby has earned three promotions. First, she was respected enough by her supervisor that she was recommended for a Firefighter Specialist position, meaning that she was at the top of her class in the U.S. Forest Service Type II Fire Training course. In order to pass this course, Ruby had to complete a timed hike during which she carried 40 lbs. and walked three miles in under 45 minutes. Ruby took her position as one of the only women on the fire crew seriously; she has mentored other young women on how to succeed in the CCC program and how to maintain confidence in a male-dominated field.

After fighting numerous fires throughout the summer of 2011, Ruby moved ahead in her Corps career and earned her Commercial Driver’s License. She was then promoted a second time to a Crewleader I position, in which role she acted as her supervisor’s go-to person. Ruby learned how to communicate professionally, how to organize a crew of up to 15 people, and how to keep a crew motivated. Ruby was so successful in this position that she was promoted again to Crewleader II. At this point, she is trusted enough that she has taken crews of 3 to 5 Corpsmembers out on projects without direct staff supervision. Ruby’s opinions and insight are highly valued, and CCC staff and sponsors frequently seek her advice.

Another testament to Ruby’s success as an AmeriCorps member was her selection as a participant in the CCC Australian Exchange. Though many Corpsmembers apply for this opportunity, Ruby was one of only ten people selected for the Exchange program. As a result, Ruby spent a summer doing conversation work in Australia.

“I loved seeing how different people lived halfway around the world, which was a once in a lifetime experience,” said Ruby. “Most people don’t get that much of an eye opener in their entire life! From this experience I now want to be an ecopsychologist, teaching people about themselves while they learn about the environment.”

Ruby is a strong leader in the CCC. She is president of the Corpsmember Advisory Board, frequently represents the CCC at job fairs, and has been instrumental in generating new volunteer opportunities for her peers. Most notably, she was an integral part of the Ukiah CCC’s participation in a dog rescue program through which the Corps helped retrain rescued animals and prepare them for adoption.

Ruby has been a diligent volunteer at community fundraisers, accruing over 170 service hours at cancer awareness events. She also spends time working in her hometown as a peer advisor, teaching an anti-bullying class.

For now, Ruby’s main goal is to go to college and gain the credentials she needs to become an ecopsychologist. Ruby credits the CCC with helping her realize a passion for protecting the environment and helping other people.

“I believe the Corps has changed who I am and made me a better person,” said Ruby. “It has done nothing but help me grow and learn, and it has given me the opportunity to learn who I am and what I am.”

Boiler Plate: 
Before Ruby came to the CCC, she was making sandwiches at a Subway shop and not doing much else with her life. When her mother suggested she research the Corps, Ruby knew she had to give it a try. The CCC offered everything she was looking for: job experience, life experience, and independence.

Ceremony Held to Name Naval Ship in Honor of Former Corpsmember Killed in Iraq


 

At the naval base in San Diego September 20, a naming ceremony was held for three new guided-missile destroyers, including the USS Rafael Peralta. 

Rafael was a San Diego corpsmember and crewleader in the California Conservation Corps from 1998-99. He later went on to serve in the Marines.

Rafael was killed in Iraq in 2004 while covering his body with a live hand grenade to save his fellow Marines.  He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, but a San Diego congressman continues to fight to have him awarded the Medal of Honor. 

Click here to read our original post about Peralta from when the Secretary of the Navy announced the naming in 2012. 


 

 


Diagram of Burke Class Destroyer - Ship model named after Rafael Peralta

Ceremony Held to Name Naval Ship in Honor of Former Corpsmember Killed in Iraq


 

At the naval base in San Diego September 20, a naming ceremony was held for three new guided-missile destroyers, including the USS Rafael Peralta. 

Rafael was a San Diego corpsmember and crewleader in the California Conservation Corps from 1998-99. He later went on to serve in the Marines.

Rafael was killed in Iraq in 2004 while covering his body with a live hand grenade to save his fellow Marines.  He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, but a San Diego congressman continues to fight to have him awarded the Medal of Honor. 

Click here to read our original post about Peralta from when the Secretary of the Navy announced the naming in 2012. 


 

 


Diagram of Burke Class Destroyer - Ship model named after Rafael Peralta

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.

California Conservation Corps Crews Sent to Silver Fire and Six Other Fires

More than 300 members of the California Conservation Corps -- including 100 on Riverside County's Silver Fire -- have been dispatched to assist Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Services on fires throughout the state.

On Southern California's Silver Fire near Banning, there are eight CCC crews, providing both firefighting assistance and logistical support at the fire camp.  The corpsmembers are working under the direction of Cal Fire.

The CCC is also assigned to the Aspen Fire (Fresno County); Butler Fire (Humboldt County); Dance Fire (Humboldt County); Falls Fire (Riverside County); Power Fire (Tuolumne County); and the Salmon River Complex (Siskiyou County).  These crews are working under the direction of the U.S. Forest Service.

The crews are from 15 different CCC locations: Camarillo, Chico, Fortuna, Fresno, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, Pomona, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Stockton,Ukiah, Watsonville and Yreka.

This has been a busy fire season for the CCC, with corpsmembers providing more than 40,000 hours of assistance during July.

Boiler Plate: 
More than 300 members of the California Conservation Corps -- including 100 on Riverside County's Silver Fire -- have been dispatched to assist Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Services on fires throughout the state.

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