The Wilderness Society and the Partnership for 21st Century Conservation Corps Launch "Fifty for the 50th Campaign"

Washington, DC (June 24, 2014) – The Corps Network joined The Wilderness Society today to launch the Fifty for the 50th Campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. This campaign will, through the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), employ youth and veterans across the country in 50 conservation projects in 50 wild places. Project locations include places such as Gates of the Mountains Wilderness in Montana, Candlestick Point State Park in San Francisco, and Bladensburg Waterfront Park, just outside of Washington, DC.

The launch event featured a series of prominent speakers, as well as personal testimonies from various corpsmembers. Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society, kicked-off the event, calling the campaign a “chance to give back to wild places.” Other speakers included Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Liz Close, Intermountain Region Director of Recreation, Heritage & Wilderness with the US Forest Service, Mary Ellen Sprenkel, Present & CEO of The Corps Network and Co-Chair of the Partnership for 21CSC, Jono McKinney, President & CEO of Montana Conservation Corps, and corpsmembers Michael Richter (MCC), Anthony “Chako” Ciacco (SWCC), Agnes Vianzon (CCC), and Priscilla Flores (CCC).

The Corps Network’s Mary Ellen spoke about the creation of the 21CSC and its “special effort to engage the next generation to care for these wild places.” The Corps Network’s membership currently includes around 100 programs that engage approximately 25,000 individuals a year. With 21CSC and campaigns such as the Fifty for the 50th Campaign, the goal is to increase that number to 100,000 people serving on public lands annually. Although ambitious, partnership is key and as Robert Bonnie of USDA mentioned, “the challenge is in the next 50 years where we must build the next generation of stewards and leaders.”

The Fifty for the 50th Campaign is the perfect way to promote the goals of 21CSC; when completed, the 50 projects will have improved or restored more than 40,000 acres, built 887 miles of trails, planted 325 acres of trees, and corpsmembers will have spent nearly 200,000 service hours on public lands.

The Fifty for 50th event was part of Great Outdoors America Week (GO Week), an annual event in Washington, DC that draws hundreds of people to celebrate, advocate, preserve, and enjoy the great outdoors! A list of events going on this week can be found here.

While celebrating the outdoors, be sure to take part in the Wilderness Society’s We Are The Wild campaign. This campaign is designed to promote and share a collective wilderness experience and inspire preservation. While at GO Week take a photo or video and post it to your social network with the hashtag #WeAreTheWild. The Wilderness Society will launch a digital hub in July at to share all the posts. Together we can build the next 50 years of wilderness!

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The Corps Network’s Great Outdoors Day of Service in the Nation’s Capital Recap

Last Friday, June 14, The Corps Network held its first annual Great Outdoors Day of Service in the Nation’s Capital. This event took place during Great Outdoors Month, a month dedicated to celebrating and recognizing the beauty of our natural landscapes. The Corps Network’s Day of Service provided an opportunity to inspire American’s to use service as a strategy to protect our nation’s great outdoors.

Despite chances of rain, the day started off sunny with the kickoff event at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, where Corps from the nearby area and as far as Los Angeles joined volunteers in service projects around the Capital. Participants were encouraged to sign a shovel, which was then given, on behalf of Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, to David Jayo, Jewell’s Senior Advisor, as a symbol of both TCN and our member Corps’ support of the work that her and her administration do for Service and Conservation Corps around the country.

During the kickoff event guests listened to a number of prominent speakers who spoke about the importance of service and conservation work across the country. Speakers included Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President & CEO of The Corps Network, Derrick Crandall, President & CEO of the American Recreation Coalition, Gerard Gabrys, CEO of Guest Services Inc., Butch Blazer, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Bill Basl, Director of AmeriCorps, Tina Terrell, National Forest Service Job Corps Director, and Jenn Kays, Volunteer Program Manager for National Mall and Memorial Parks.

Wrapping up the kickoff event, Corpsmembers and volunteers enjoyed lunch provided by Guest Services Inc. and split off to work on three service projects in the Nation’s Capital. The first project included painting fence, chains, and posts at the FDR memorial while a second group traveled to the Tidal Basin to provide cleanup. The third service project, at Fort DuPont, enlisted Corpsmembers to clear a path for future outdoor exercise equipment. All the projects got off to a great start but had to end early when a large thunderstorm entered the area. Despite the rain, everyone had a great time serving in the outdoors and meeting other Corpsmembers and volunteers!

The Corps Network would like to thank those who spoke at the kickoff event, the National Park Service, USDA, US Forest Service Job Corps, American Recreation Coalition, GSI, and most of all – the Corps and volunteers that participated and made this Day of Service a success. President & CEO Mary Ellen Sprenkel says, “The Corps Network’s First Annual Day of Service in our Nation’s Capital, as part of Great Outdoors Month was a great success – even in the pouring rain!  It provided an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the power of Service and Conservation Corps in a very public and high profile setting and enabled Corpsmembers from across the country to feel a part of something much larger – the “Corps Movement.”  Big thanks to all of the Corps that participated and to all the partners that made it possible!  We are already looking forward to next year!”

TCN would also like to thank anyone who participated in our Twitter campaign #dayofservice even if they couldn’t be at the event in-person. The first annual Day of Service was a success and The Corps Network looks forward to next year’s event!

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Meet Our Summer Interns!

The Corps Network is pleased to announce the arrival of our summer interns! We are very excited that both Bobby and Judith have joined us to offer their help. Please join us in welcoming them, and read more about them below.

Bobby Tillett

Prior to interning at the Corps Network, Bobby completed two AmeriCorps terms-of-service working with the Montana Conservation Corps as both a Field Crew Member and a Field Crew Leader. The experiences and people Bobby met during his terms-of-service are the main inspiration behind his further interest in advocating for our nation’s Service and Conservation Corps. He graduated with a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Mary Washington and is looking to further his education in the near future. Bobby is a native Virginian, who enjoys backpacking, running and anything related to DC sports franchises.

Judith Rontal

Judith joined The Corps Network for the summer of 2014 to be the Communications and Membership Intern. Prior to joining the team, Judith has held previous communication internships with the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce and with the Human Rights Ordinance Campaign: One Royal Oak. All throughout her high school and college years Judith has been involved with youth development programs, such as tutoring inside local schools, working as a camp counselor, and teaching English during her semester abroad in Italy.

Judith’s passion for youth development is combined with an interest in conservation, which she developed while spending a month in Kenya doing independent research on the conflict-ridden relationship between the indigenous pastoralists and the protected national reserves. She is excited to leave the cold of Michigan after recently graduating from the University of Michigan to get a fresh start in DC! When not at TCN offices, Judith can either be found running through the streets of DC or baking cookies at home.

Buy a Father's Day Gift through Amazon and Help Support The Corps Network!

To celebrate Father's Day, from now through 6/15/2014, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate an extra $5 for each customer who makes an eligible purchase at in support of The Corps Network. This is in addition to the regular donation of 0.5% of the purchase price. 

Click here to get started: 

Thanks and have a great Father's Day!

The Corps Network

A Photo Collage for Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell

After receiving a photo from Mile High Youth Corps with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell from last week's announcement of 21st Century Conservation Service Corps grants, we thought "Wow! Secretary Jewell really has visited with a large number of Corpsmembers and Corps staff nationwide."

Based on our count, in only slightly over a year in office, Secretary Jewell has already met Corpsmembers from a total of 20 different Service and Conservation Corps programs! (See the list below) She has also spent time with youth and Corps completing service projects.

As a token of appreciation, we pulled together all of our photos from her visits to Corps and public lands, as well as photos from the FDR Memorial and The Corps Network 2014 National Conference. We hope you enjoy the collage. If you want to share it, we posted it on Twitter and Facebook.

1. Urban Corps of San Diego County
2. Rocky Mountain Youth Corps
3. Kupu / Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps
4. EOC Fresno Local Conservation Corps
5. CiviCorps
6. Southwest Conservation Corps
7. Northwest Youth Corps
8. California Conservation Corps
9. Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa
10. New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg
11. Earth Conservation Corps
12. DC Green Corps
13. Montgomery County Conservation Corps
14. Student Conservation Association
15. Conservation Corps North Bay
16. Utah Conservation Corps
17. Mile High Youth Corps
18. EarthCorps
19. LA Conservation Corps
20. Montana Conservation Corps

The Corps Network Partners with The National Trust for Historic Preservation to Train Next Generation of Preservation Professionals

Through “HOPE Crews” (Hands On Preservation Experience Crews), young people in Service and Conservation Corps programs nationwide will work with The Trust for Historic Preservation and other partners, including the National Park Service, to help protect and save America’s historic places.

Photos, Press, Highlights, and Video from the White House Champions of Change Conservation Event

Earlier this week as we announced, both Anthony "Chako" Ciocco of Southwest Conservation Corps and Jon Brito of Kupu were honored by the White House for "engaging the next generation of conservation leaders."

Numerous staff members from The Corps Network were honored to attend the event on Tuesday, and watch Chako and Jon represent us and the Corps Movement so well!

Secretary Jewell Makes Big Show of Support at Event, and Through Secretarial Order

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell served as the keynote speaker for the event, and highlighted each of the fourteen honorees' accomplishments. She quoted each of the honorees, and even ended her remarks with a quote from a forthcoming blog post written by Chako, to soon be published by the White House! (See video at time mark of 34 minutes and 35 seconds). She also announced that she would soon issue a Secretarial order for her youth initiative, which among other features formalizes the continuing implementation of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. A press release about the order was released earlier today. We believe this is a significant development and thank the Secretary for her support!

Other Representatives also Highlight Importance of Youth in Conservation and 21st Century Conservation Service Corps

The event also featured high-ranking officials from numerous other agencies and the White House, including White House Counselor John Podesta, Department of Interior Assistant Secretary Rhea Suh, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, USDA Deputy Under Secretary Arthur Blazer (pictured), and Acting Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Michael Boots. Everyone was emphatic in their support of getting youth involved in conservation, and that the 14 "Champions of Change" were excellent role models for showcasing methods and strategies for involving youth in a variety of conservation efforts. The honorees were evenly split into two moderated panels, where they introduced themselves and answered questions from the moderators, from Twitter, and from the live audience. A video of the first hour of the event has already been posted on Youtube. In total it was a three hour event, so we are still waiting for the next video which should feature Chako and Jon's panel.

Additional Highlights Feature a Trip to Meet Wendy Spencer at the Corporation for National & Community Service, a mural tour at the Department of Interior that concluded with a stop in Secretary Jewell's Office

Both Jon and Chako were invited to the offices of AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) following the event. They were joined by Dr. Benjamin Blonder and Andy Hart, two other "Champions" who each had an AmeriCorps connection. CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer took a few moments to meet each of the honorees and take a photo with them. All of the champions also filmed quick videos with AmeriCorps staff.

Later in the afternoon, the Champions of Change were invited to take a tour of the Department of Interior, and see many of its fantastic and historic murals. Jon and Chako stopped to pose in front of one mural that depicted the Civilian Conservation Corps. The honorees gradually made their way to Secretary Jewell's office, where she again greeted the Champions and took more photos.

Party On Champions

But the fun didn't end there. The champions were invited by The Wilderness Society to their Ansel Adams Gallery to join a reception in honor of Bill Hodge, one of the Champions who was honored as a representative of the Wilderness Society's Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) program. An additional event was organized by our friends with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids.  

Praise from Members of Congress for Chako and Jon

“The White House Champions of Change award is a fitting recognition of Anthony’s environmental stewardship and leadership. He works tirelessly to improve outdoor access on the Navajo Nation,” Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet said. “In true Colorado fashion, Anthony, and the Southwest Conservation Corps, are dedicated to furthering opportunities for all of us to get outside and appreciate the outdoors, while also teaching countless young people the importance of being good stewards of our natural resources.” 

“Today at the White House, a local Moloka`i leader is being honored for his work to preserve our precious island environment and Native Hawaiian cultural practices. Jon has restored many endangered native Hawai`i species and habitats through his work with AmeriCorps and Kupu’s Hawai`i Youth Conservation Corps. I’m so proud of Jon and all that he has done to improve his community and the environment around him, while setting a great example for our keiki to follow. Congratulations, Jon, for this well-deserved honor! Aloha!” — U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard



* We will continue adding to this list as new stories are posted and released.

Boiler Plate: 
Earlier this week as we announced, both Anthony "Chako" Ciocco of Southwest Conservation Corps and Jon Brito of Kupu were honored by the White House for "engaging the next generation of conservation leaders." Read about the highlights and see photos from Jon and Chako's big day!

New Green Investments Report Highlights Sequestration Impacts on Service and Conservation Corps

Northwest Youth Corps working on a coastal project.

Service and Conservation Corps were highlighted in a new "Green Investments" report that was assembled by a number of environmental groups including the National Parks Conservation Association, Defenders of Wildlife, the Wilderness Society, Trust for Public Land, the Nature Conservancy, American Forests and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Using The Corps Network's "Impact of Sequestration" research and report, the Green Investments report indicated how less work would occur on federal lands including national parks and national forests because of cuts to federal funding.

Phil Taylor of E&E News Service wrote that

The report praises Congress for agreeing last year to undo sequester cuts for fiscal 2014 and 2015 but warns that the sequester will resume from 2016 to 2021 unless Congress acts.

And while top-level discretionary funding for 2015 is a "vast improvement" over sequestered levels, appropriators still must allocate a sufficient amount to the subcommittees that fund Interior, EPA, the Forest Service, the Energy Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the State Department, the report said.

"From the damaging sequester to the 16-day closure of national parks, other federal lands and environmental agencies, the last year added insult to injury for the places and programs that are popular with Americans and important for the economy," said John Garder, director of budgets and appropriation for the National Parks Conservation Association, who edited the report.

The full report will be sent to the White House and can be accessed here.

Boiler Plate: 
Service and Conservation Corps were highlighted in a new "Green Investments" report that was assembled by a number of environmental groups including the National Parks Conservation Association, Defenders of Wildlife, the Wilderness Society, Trust for Public Land, the Nature Conservancy, American Forests and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Service and Conservation Corps Will Soon Add “Waders in the Water”

The Corps Network is working with Trout Headwaters, Inc. on a new training program to put “Waders in the Water.”  THI president Michael Sprague (pictured) says his company is looking forward to readying America’s youth and veterans for work along our waterways. 

VIDEO: The Corps Network Participates in Center for American Progress Event on Competency-Based Education


The Corps Network's Government Relations Director, Tyler Wilson, recently spoke at a Center for American Progress event on competency-based education. Watch coverage of the event to learn more about The Corps Network's education initiatives.