Sally Jewell Meets New Jersey Youth Corps Members, Announces New Hurricane Sandy Restoration Grants, and Promotes Emphasis on Youth in Major Speech

Sally Jewell puts on New Jersey Youth Corps attire.

Written by the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipburg with additional reporting from The Corps Network

Last week, New Jersey Youth Corps programs from Camden and Phillipsburg, by invitation of the Secretary of the Interior, attended a press event at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Galloway Twp, NJ. On behalf of President Obama, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Interior and local officials to announce that $162 million will be invested in 45 restoration and research projects that will better protect Atlantic Coast communities from future powerful storms, by restoring marshes, wetlands and beaches, rebuilding shorelines, and researching the impacts and modeling mitigation of storm surge impacts.

Using the dramatic backdrop of Atlantic City as a stark contrast to the some 40,000 acres of wildlife habitat, Secretary Jewell stressed the importance of preserving our natural treasures, preparing for and building resiliency against future storms as well as developing projects with strong youth components. After her press conference, the Secretary had a private meet & greet with Corpsmembers (US Fish & Wildlife Director Daniel Ashe and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ12th) also participated) They thanked the Youth Corps for all their efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, encouraged the Corpmembers to pursue careers in the environmental field and to continue their great work all throughout the state.

Earlier this week, Mary Ellen Ardouny of The Corps Network attended an additional event in Alexandria, Virginia where Sally Jewell further promoted the restoration projects at the National Park Service managed Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. In all, $162 million for 45 projects were authorized (list here). They also announced that the Department would issue a Request for Proposals for an additional $100 million in grant funding under the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program. We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress toward getting Youth Corps to work on these types of projects.

In a major policy speech today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Secretary Jewell also outlined a major emphasis on connecting youth to public lands through a new effort in 50 cities, through K-12 education in “outdoor classrooms”, through volunteerism, and through training and employment opportunities like the 21st Century Conservation Corps (click here to watch the segment of the speech about youth). Further details were not immediately available, but we are glad to hear that Secretary Jewell remains committed to connecting youth to public lands!

New York Times, Senator Udall Highlight Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts of Service and Conservation Corps

Following the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, numerous members of The Corps Network have responded with disaster relief assistance in communities along the Eastern Seaboard. The efforts of Service and Conservation Corps located in New Jersey and New York, as well as those arriving from out-of-state as part of a broader National Service mission have already garnered significant recognition.

Service and Conservation Corps Contributing to Relief Efforts After Hurricane Sandy


While The Corps Network is concerned and saddened by the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy throughout many areas of the East Coast, we are proud that some of our Corps are already helping to mobilize their Corpsmembers to respond and meet needs in their communities. 

In New York City, several Corps are already attempting to help improve conditions by volunteering, including the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) and Green City Force. On their Facebook page, NYRP wrote: "We've been restoring parks and gardens in NYC's most underserved communities for nearly two decades - and our parks & gardens were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. But we're New Yorkers and this storm only makes us more determined to make NYC a cleaner & greener place to live. For those of us who are fortunate enough to still have our own homes and gardens intact... Sign-up to be a volunteer at www.nyrp.org/volunteer and we'll let you know when it's safe to be back in our parks. In the meantime, help our clean-up efforts at www.nyrp.org/donate."

Green City Force wrote a blog post and said "A few of us went down to the Red Hook Community Farm yesterday, and it has taken quite a hit. A lot of help is needed, and so we are making this a GCF service priority over the next few days." A Corps Staff member also spoke with staff from the Corps, and was pleased to hear that they have made contact with almost all Corpsmembers and were doing ok. Green City Force posted a photo from the farm, and seems to be in good spirits.

A Corps Network staff member also spoke to a staff member with the New Jersey Youth Corps of Camden / The Work Group, and heard that they were doing ok and seemed to escape terrible damage in their part of the state.

More Help on the Way from The Corps Network, FEMA, and AmeriCorps

Working with our partners at FEMA and the Corporation for National and Community Service, numerous other members of The Corps Network are deploying to New York City to help staff shelters. As it currently stands, 400 AmeriCorps members will deploy in the next week to help assist on projects at the shelters and beyond as needed in New York. Given the training of Corps to work independently, and their high levels of training and skill with volunteer management, they are a tremendous resource in times like these. More broadly, 877 AmeriCorps members are currently on the ground in six states, including 41 FEMACorps crews. An additional 900 members are on standby.

Several days ago Washington Conservation Corps wrote on their Facebook page that they "will deploy 40 AmeriCorps members and 8 WCC Crew Supervisors to assist the communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. Our teams will be travelling with tools onboard, including chainsaws and other equipment for clearing debris, placing sandbags, and tarping roofs. Corpsmembers will also be assisting in shelter operations, supply distribution, and damage assessments with FEMA staff. Food and lodging will be provided by various non-profit groups, churches and schools."

AmeriCorps St. Louis has already arrived in New York City, with many Corps scheduled to arrive over the weekend and the next few days. While the response will include AmeriCorps partners beyond The Corps Network, from our membership Washington Conservation Corps, Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (Taos), and Montana Conservation Corps are already set for departure. Several additional Corps may be mobilized as well in the coming days in addition to those members of FEMA Corps and AmeriCorps NCCC that will be assisting throughout affected areas.

Mario Colucci, a Regional Program Coordinator for Montana Conservation Corps who will be leading Montana's crew over a deployment of at least 30 days said: "This is an all hands on deck scenario and AmeriCorps members are uniquely suited to provide immediate assistance. They have a level of efficiency and skills that make them a great resource to bring stability and aid to the beleaguered people affected by Hurricane Sandy."

Colucci's thoughts about it being an "all hands on deck scenario" have been echoed by many, and we hope that our Corps will make as much of a difference as they are able.

You can follow updates from AmeriCorps on the National Service by clicking here.