Montana Conservation Corps Restores CCC Built Fish Hatchery

Local stone mason Jimmy Plovanik assists crew members with stone wall repair Tuesday. The seven-person MCC crew made much progress on the park at Big Springs Trout Hatchery this week.

This article was originally published by the Lewistown News-Argus.

Fish hatchery park gets make-over


The Montana Conservation Corps crew working on the fish hatchery make-over includes (from left) Timothy Gillispie, Helena; Eric Barr, MCC co-leader, Florida; Taggert Street, Helena; Sharanne Dement, Great Falls; Logan Callerg, Great Falls; Albert Leavell, MCC leader, Maryland; and Amanda Knorr, Helena.
Special to the News-Argus
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 11:01 AM MDT
Editor’s Note: This week, Montana Conservation Corps volunteers came to Lewistown to assist community members with the park at Big Springs Trout Hatchery. The volunteers did not just clean up the area; they also did some stonework and landscape work.

Having MCC do this work is fitting, Gies said, as it was the Civilian Conservation Corps that constructed the park in the first place.

Most of the park facilities at the Big Springs Trout Hatchery southeast of Lewistown were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in about 1936, almost eighty years ago.

The  CCC was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25.  Robert Fechner was the head of the agency. The program was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, and provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments.

Now, almost eight decades later, the Montana Conservation Corps is doing repair and renovation work at the fish hatchery park. The Montana Conservation Corps grew out of stories of men joining and serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps, stories that can be heard at coffee counters across Montana in places like the Empire Café. Tales of the accomplishments of the CCC to improve the landscape and the spirits of the young people who joined are numerous, and verging on mythical, in the best tradition of Montana.

This week, MCC workers are busy repairing the facilities built by the CCC. These MCC workers include five Montana high school students and two supervisors in their twenties. The supervisors work right along with the kids.

In two days the crew has accomplished much of the repair of rock work in the big pool, building trails and pulling weeds. They have two more days of work left. Local master stone mason Jimmy Plovanic has been right along side of this crew, showing them how to do the repair and renovation work on the stone walls. These walls are simply stacked stone, but of course, stacked in an aesthetic and lasting way. Jimmy has made a great contribution in sharing his expertise.

The project leader on the park renovation is Eric VanderBeek. Eric has been a strong leader, including working to obtain $14,000 in grant money for the project. Locals Brad McCardle, Lewistown trails manager, Clay Dunlap, retired educator, and Clint Loomis, retired educator and artist, have also worked hard on this project. All have spent countless hours on planning and implementing the project. Much credit on this project goes to Paul Pavlak a Lewistown resident who started the ball rolling on this park renovation.

Karl Gies is a member of the Big Spring Creek Watershed Association.


Boiler Plate: 
This week, Montana Conservation Corps volunteers came to Lewistown to assist community members with the park at Big Springs Trout Hatchery. The volunteers did not just clean up the area; they also did some stonework and landscape work.

Youth Conservation Corps Restores Landscape of Adlai Stevenson II's Home

Local teens working with Youth Conservation Corps restored the white fence Adlai Stevenson II sat on for this historic photo shoot.

Originally published in the Lake County News-Sun
By Linda Blaser


Work to restore the historic home of Adlai Stevenson II surged ahead this summer through the blood, sweat — and possibly tears — of a Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) crew.

The teenagers installed a 216-foot length of white slatted fencing, including sinking 27 8-foot-long fence posts, attaching three 1-by-14-foot slats per section and painting the entire fence white.

“It was quite a job,” YCC Manager Luke Bowman said.

The teens’ combined effort brings back an important historic element of the property, which is poised to receive a National Historic Landmark plaque at a special ceremony on Oct. 12. The house is located at 25200 N. St. Mary’s Road in Mettawa.

“We replicated the original fence in order to restore the look of the property to the way it was when (Stevenson) lived there,” said Katherine Hamilton-Smith, director of cultural resources at the Lake County Forest Preserves.

In fact, a famous photo of Stevenson sitting on the original fence graced the cover of LIFE magazine in 1965, after he died.

The YCC crew of three boys and three girls, plus crew leader and assistant crew leader, also spent several weeks clearing out invasive plants and trees that grew around a large oak Stevenson often stood beside to view the river.

“We made a lot of headway,” Bowman said of the clearing project.

Removing the fast-growing maples from around the slow-growing oak was essential to maintaining the historic tree and opening up the canopy so the oak will get the sunlight it needs.

It is the second year a YCC crew worked on clearing out the small-diameter sugar maples, buckthorn and other invasives that grew beneath the historic oak.

“This year we made it all the way to the river,” Bowman said of the clearing. “Now we’re working both directions to make the view wider.”

Work on the historic Stevenson home — particularly the fence — was one of the top priorities for the 2014 YCC summer program.

“I was willing to set the whole summer aside to get the fence right,” Bowman said.

A total of 36 teenagers from across Lake County spent eight weeks this summer working on restoration and construction projects to improve forest preserves throughout Lake County. For the past 15 years, YCC has partnered with the Lake County Forest Preserves to provide summer employment for high school students and to teach them valuable life skills.

“We’re working extra hard right now to maintain the property and have it look wonderful,” Hamilton-Smith said of the Stevenson home, which houses the Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy.

The National Historic Landmark plaque presentation this fall will bring together a number of dignitaries, elected officials and other special guests to mark receipt of the prestigious honor.

“National Historic Landmark designation is a big deal,” Hamilton-Smith said. “This won’t happen again (in Lake County) any time soon.”

The Stevenson house is the second Lake County Forest Preserve District property to receive the designation — the first was a portion of the Fort Sheridan Historic District — and it is the first 20th-century Illinois politician’s home deemed a national landmark.

Delaware North Companies Announces Significant Commitment to HOPE Crews at Gettysburg Summit

This past week at the Aspen Institute's Gettysburg Summit on National Service, Delaware North Companies Principal, Jerry Jacobs Jr., in partnership with Stephanie Meeks, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced a $3 million commitment to additional HOPE Crew projects.

This announcement follows a successful HOPE Crew pilot project in Shenandoah National Park, where a crew from Harpers Ferry Job Corps in collaboration with Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia restored the historic Skyland Stables. The project was recently featured on PBS Newshour, and also according to HOPE Crew partners resulted in cost savings of 25% when compared to what it would have cost for the park to work with a traditional contractor to restore the Stables.

Most of the new Delaware North funded HOPE Crew projects will take place in Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Olympic, and Shenandoah National Parks.

"Delaware North Companies should be applauded for continuing to support the HOPE Crew initiative with such a substantial and meaningful commitment," said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network. "Combined with the other HOPE Crew projects that have recently occured and will also soon get under way in places including New Mexico, New Jersey, Montana, and Virginia, there is already significant proof that these partnerships yield cost-effective training for youth to gain historic preservation skills, while also getting meaningful projects done that Americans can appreciate."

[Video] HOPE Crew Partnership Featured on PBS Newshour

Earlier this week, PBS Newshour aired a segment about our new HOPE Crew Partnership with the Trust for Historic Preservation and many other partners. The five minute piece focuses on the historic stable project in Shenandoah National Park, that was recently completed by a Harpers Ferry Jobs Corps / Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia HOPE Crew. We think it's a great watch and encourage you to view it below.

Mission Accomplished! Historic Stables in Shenandoah National Park Restored by 1st HOPE Crew

Photos by The Trust for Historic Preservation and The Corps Network

On Wednesday, June 4th, members of the first HOPE Crew participated in a ribbon-cutting event at the historic Skyland Stables, where they had recently completed a variety of projects to restore the stables. Corpsmembers seemed immensely proud of their work, and the skills they had gained. Some even had bonded with horses, and planned to visit them again for a ride over the summer (Sugarfoot the horse seemed to have been particularly fond of the Corpsmembers).

The historic preservation project was made possible by a large number of partners, including The Trust for Historic Preservation, Delaware North, Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia, Harper's Ferry Job Corps, Shenandoah National Park, and The Corps Network. Leaders from each organization attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

In addition to the earlier article about the project featured on, an article on covered the story. Enjoy the before and after photos below and we look forward to additional HOPE Crew projects having similar levels of success.



National Trust for Historic Preservation Awards the Texas Conservation Corps a Preservation Grant for Work at LBJ’s Grandparent’s Cabin

Press Release Issued by Texas Conservation Corps and the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Johnson City, Texas (Wednesday, March 14, 2014)—Today, the Texas Conservation Corps was awarded a $ 5,000 grant by the  National Trust for Historic Preservation for a Hands-On-Preservation-Experience (HOPE) Crew project.  These grant funds will be used immediately to make repairs on a cabin at Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park originally inhabited by LBJ’s grandparents, Sam and Eliza Johnson, in the 1860’s.

This HOPE Crew project, overseen by craft  experts  from the  National Park  Service’s Western Center for Historic Preservation, is taking place this week in Johnson City, Texas. The project will result in critical repairs to the cabin while also transferring these unique historic preservation skills to the workforce of the next generation.  AmeriCorps members from the Texas Conservation Corps are hewing new wooden porch beams and making other repairs using tools that would have been used in the original construction in the 1860’s.  The Texas Conservation Corps is a program of American YouthWorks in Austin, Texas   that  places  teams  of  youth  and  young  adults  on  experiential  conservation, preservation and disaster response projects across the region.

"Programs like the Texas Conservation Corps help to ensure that communities and towns all across America retain their unique sense of place," said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "We are honored to provide a grant to the program which will use the funds to help preserve an important piece of our shared national heritage."

Grants from the National Trust Preservation Funds range from $2,500 to $5,000 and have provided over $15 million in preservation support since 2003. These matching grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations and public agencies across the country to support wide-ranging activities including consultant services for rehabilitating buildings, technical assistance for tourism that promotes historic resources, and the development of materials for education and outreach campaigns.

For more information on National Trust for Historic Preservation’s

Preservation Fund grants, visit:

About American YouthWorks

American YouthWorks is an education and jobs training nonprofit based in Austin, Texas.   The agency has been serving the community since 1981 and offers a diverse set of programs for young people, ages 16 to 28, who want to change their lives through education, workforce training, and service to their country. For more information see

About the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately-funded nonprofit organization that works to save America’s historic places to enrich our future. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is committed  to protecting  America’s  rich  cultural  legacy  and  helping  build  vibrant,  sustainable communities that reflect our nation’s diversity. Follow us on Twitter  @presnation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.

Boiler Plate: 
Johnson City, Texas (Wednesday, March 14, 2014)—Today, the Texas Conservation Corps was awarded a $ 5,000 grant by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for a Hands-On-Preservation-Experience (HOPE) Crew project. These grant funds will be used immediately to make repairs on a cabin at Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park originally inhabited by LBJ’s grandparents, Sam and Eliza Johnson, in the 1860’s.

New Jersey Youth Corps Participates in HOPE Crew Volunteer Day at Historic Stadium

Written by Michael Muckle, Executive Director of the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg.

Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey is a historic 10,000-seat municipal stadium built from 1931–32 on a dramatic escarpment above Paterson's National Historic Landmark Great Falls. It is one of only a handful of stadiums surviving nationally that once played host to significant Negro league baseball during America's Jim Crow era. The stadium was designated as a National Historic Landmark in March 2013 and a Paterson Historic Landmark in May 2013.

On April 16th, under the guidance of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Hands-On Preservation Experience HOPE Crew program, New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg & of Paterson, along with hundreds of other volunteers, helped paint Hinchliffe Stadium as part of the venues' National Historic Landmark Dedication Ceremony. Over the years the stadium has hosted all types of sporting events, from baseball, boxing, wrestling...even auto racing! We were honored to be part of history and look forward to following the progress and eventual return of this historic venue to its former glory! More photos below.  #SaveHinchliffe