AmeriCorps Crews from Two Member Organizations of The Corps Network to Restore Iconic Trails in Mt. Rainier and Olympic National Parks

2011 Project of the Year: Tribal Preservation Crew Wows National Park Service

 

Winner: Southwest Conservation Corps

Cornell Torivio was instrumental in working with the Southwest Conservation Corps to create a Corps at the Acoma Pueblo. As a member of the community, Cornell has always strived to blend his two primary professional interests: historic/prehistoric preservation and work with Native American youth. With his 10 years of experience doing preservation work for the National Park Service as well as at the Acoma Pueblo, Cornell decided that he could offer more.

Working with local National Park Service (NPS) partners, Cornell has now helped to create a Tribal Preservation Program crew. The crew is comprised entirely of young Native Americans who have been trained by Cornell to preserve valuable historic and cultural sites.

The first project the crew successfully completed was stabilization work on a historic depot tank stage station at Petrified Forest National Park. The NPS was so impressed that it plans to develop more projects for the crew.

Program participants gain many marketable skills through the work. These skills include knowledge of how to document and photograph all work that is being accomplished at the site; how to implement “leave no trace” methods into the daily work routine so as to cause the least amount of impact; how to identify different types of mortars, stones, and adobe used at historic and prehistoric sites; knowledge of historic and current NPS standards and policies, as well as interpretive knowledge of the parks; and professional preservation trade skills and career development. While it is unlikely that all program participants will go into preservation work, some of the program graduates will likely fill the ranks of retiring NPS and other professional preservation workers.

But without doubt, all program participants gain greater appreciation of the value in preserving our country’s historic treasures. The partnership has also allowed the National Park Service to gain a dedicated and well-trained preservation crew that might also provide the agency with a good portion of its future archaeological preservation staff.

2005 Corpsmember of the Year: Jennifer Mack

 

Jennifer Mack came to American YouthWorks’ Environmental Corps in Austin via Vermont in the middle of major life decisions and changes. Nonetheless, it was immediately visible to her crew leader that Jennifer was motivated by personal growth, community service and learning.  In overcoming her addictions, Jen constantly challenges herself and seeks new experiences and learning opportunities.  She has cultivated relationships for AYW with local nonprofits and a national park. She has served as a Policy Council Representative, and has become her crew’s amateur botanist.  After completing her term with E-Corps, Jennifer will attend Texas State University for a degree in Biology. 

--“Thanks to AmeriCorps, specifically the Environmental Corps program, I now have a better idea of what aspects I want to include in my education… My term of service has given me the confidence and direction that I needed to go back to school.”

(written in 2005)

2008 Corpsmember of the Year: Keith Storr

 


 

When Keith left his first term of service with the Greater Miami Service Corps for a music scholarship at Edward Waters College, his crew and supervisor of nearly seven months were sad to lose him but proud of his opportunity. When he found out a short time later that his mom had a terminal illness, he withdrew from his first semester of college and came home to take care of his mom and younger brother. When his mom passed, he knew he had to be strong for his little brother. 

Keith asked to return to the Corps. As he said, “At the time when I re-entered the Corps, my mom passed away and my younger brother and I had to move in with my grandmother.  The Corps staff helped me get back on track.” 

Keith is on the landscape maintenance crew for the Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer. When he was sent on a special project to The Everglades National Park, his team, and especially Keith, received praise from park management.  Upon his return from the Everglades, Keith was asked to fill the gaps on a crew that was down to only two Corpsmembers and a Supervisor.   His hard work, along with the assistance of his fellow Corpsmembers, maintained 93 acres of grass and trees, ensuring the project was never behind.  As Keith said:

“I learned how to get the ‘job done’ and how to work smart and not hard.  Many Corpsmembers view me as a leader.  I am now enrolled in Miami-Dade College studying psychology.  I intend to use the skills gained at the Corps to assist me with my future goals.” 

2008 Corpsmember of the Year: Linnea Heu


***Update! Click here to find out what Linnea has been up to since winning her award.***

(Written in 2008)

When Linnea joined the Hawai’i Youth Conservation Corps (KUPU), she had very little knowledge of or concern for Hawai’i’s environmental preservation. 

“I had always loved the outdoors and nature, but I’d never seen the environment as a responsibility, which I now realize it is," she said.

Linnea joined the Corps out of cultural consciousness and pride when she heard the Corps was going to spend a week on Kaho’olawe Island.  This island, a place of great cultural significance for many native Hawaiians, was used for military live-fire training and was in the process of being “regreened”. 

During her term on her home island and her second term at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, Linnea was involved in dry forest, stream, and beach restoration projects, including removing invasive species, propagating seeds, and installing irrigation.  During both terms, supervisors and peers were impressed by her drive, eagerness to learn, and enthusiasm for service. 

Linnea is currently pursuing a degree in Environmental Science and plans to be an active participant in environmental restoration in the future. As Linnea said:

“Luckily for me, a passion for the Hawaiian culture led me to an equally engrossing care for the environment and the islands I call home.”

Wyoming Conservation Corps Takes a Step Back in Time


A crew of eight students from the Wyoming Conservation Corps is working on rebuilding the Mason-Lovell Ranch at the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The students got a taste of being a homesteader/rancher at the turn of the century, installing a large corral at the ranch that had become dilapidated over the years and was eventually torn down. Though they used an auger and other power tools to help with the construction, the students were performing essentially the same work that Lovell did when he designed the original corrals and hand-dug holes for the railroad tie posts. “Our vision was for state and other agencies to use them to do construction projects,” Harvey said, adding that another purpose of the WCC was to peak students’ interests in resource management. “So the students would come to love the land and through science learn what the land needed.” 

Read more in the Lovell Chronicle.