Corpsmember Perspective: Let's Move! Outside - YMCA San Antonio


Chloe Crumley is one of The Corps Network's AmeriCorps EAP members who is serving at a local YMCA location as part of Let's Move! Outside initiative. As a member of Texas Conservation Corps, Chloe is based out of YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

In 2015, The Corps Network joined the Department of the Interior's Let's Move! Outside initiative: an effort to build coalitions in 50 cities across the country to put into action the Department of the Interior’s broader youth initiative, which is focused on enhancing and expanding outdoor recreational, educational, volunteer and career opportunities on public lands for millions of youth. The Corps Network is aiding the initiative by placing TCN AmeriCorps EAP members at YMCA locations in many of the 50 cities. Each Corpsmember assists a Community Coordinator at the Y in leading a coalition of local organizations working to inspire young people to play, learn, serve, and work on public lands. Chloe's cohort (the first 25 cities) will end in August, and new EAP members will be selected for the remaining 25 cities. 
 
 
By Chloe Crumley
Texas Conservation Corps

Let’s Move! Outside has been an adventure. I may not be scraping my knees or climbing mountains in the most literal since, but figuratively, I have done just that. It all started with our summit in August 2015 in San Antonio, which was two days after I began as the AmeriCorps member with the initiative. I only vaguely knew what the initiative was about, but I did know I love being outside, I love being an advocate for the outdoors, and I’m excited for the opportunity to reach more people in my community to find that feeling and love of nature as well.

The beginning trek. The first summit had over 50 people in attendance from over 20 different organizations in and around San Antonio. In those three-hours we were able to discuss the outdoor opportunities this city has, the volunteer chances, and how we can all work together to better our existing programs. It was a fabulous event where passionate people were able to meet others in their same field and mind set of the outdoors and youth. That summit really lifted off our initiative and got many people and organizations excited for the future.

The first cross road. Now that the initiative had some excitement, I thought moving forward would be a breeze; however, due to my own excitement of getting youth and the community involved in the outdoors, I started running before I ever knew where I was going.
When the initiative was given to us, it stated two things: 1. We want 10,000 youth volunteers in each city and 2. There are four pillars – Play, Learn, Serve, Work.
The rest was up to us.

Climbing up hill. The openness of Let’s Move! Outside that was given to us, has the benefit of truly creating an initiative that fits our city and our needs, but the downside of little to no structure has meant a longer amount of time getting our footing. For a few weeks we worked on getting more partners involved and interested while we figured out the best way to find a mutually beneficial arrangement of their role in LMO. We worked on establishing a dedicated steering committee which has been a large part of our success. Then with that steering committee, we were able to work on a mission statement, develop goals, and decide our next steps with LMO.

The view. I know we have not reached our peak yet and even though we have fallen a few times and lost partners or fumbled with program development, we are now coming across a beautiful view. A couple of accomplishments in our journey have been:

  • A new program with Parks and Recreation Youth Programs and the National Historic Missions where youth are taught about the missions and parks and then taken to the missions to complete their Junior Ranger Training
  • A weekly educational hike at Hill Country Natural Area State Park specifically for youth
  • The first ever volunteer day with The Doseum and its members to have a family friendly outdoor volunteer day
  • Having the YMCA come out to the volunteer Arbor Day and do zumba with volunteers,
  • (And my favorite) A steering committee member from East Central ISD was committed and took a group of students to Big Bend National Park to learn, discover the park, volunteer, and express their passions to their peers when they returned.

The overlook. Most recently, I have been working with community members around San Antonio who are interested in volunteering and just need some help finding places to go, so it has been my pleasure to match families and businesses to opportunities. We also just had our SECOND summit for Let’s Move! Outside where we were able to discuss our goals and what the community needs from us. The most brought up resource needed is a website with calendars, partner resources, etc. so that is our #1 priority. At the second summit,we were glad to see organizations attend who have not been a part of the initiative. It proved that there are many people who could benefit from us, we just need to continue reaching out to them. We are also excited for the expansion of some volunteer days in our city like “It’s My Park Day” and “National Public Lands Day” thanks to LMO.

An adventure it has been, but it has been incredibly worth it and I am proud to be a part of this process to engage our youth and community to #getoutdoors #letsmoveoutsideSA
 

 

Civic Works and The Corps Network Join Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell for 50 Cities Initiative Launch

Civic Works Corpsmembers and Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network, with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Photo courtesy of DOI.

On Tuesday, June 2nd, Baltimore officially became the 11th city to join the Department of the Interior’s 50 Cities Initiative. Staff from The Corps Network as well as representatives from Civic Works, Baltimore’s Conservation Corps, attended an event at Middle Branch Park along the Patapsco River where Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement. Also in attendance at the event were Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, White House Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes, the YMCA and several other local organizations.

The 50 Cities initiative is an effort to build coalitions in 50 cities across the country to put into action the Department of the Interior’s broader youth initiative, which is focused on enhancing and expanding outdoor recreational, educational, volunteer and career opportunities on public lands for millions of youth and veterans.

In each of the 50 cities participating in the initiative, The Corps Network is working with member Corps to place an AmeriCorps member at the local YMCA. The Corpsmember will assist a Community Coordinator in developing and leading a coalition of local organizations that can inspire young people to play, learn, serve, and work on public lands.

Twenty-six of the 50 cities will be announced this year. The 11 that have already been announced include New York City, Atlanta, Miami, the Twin Cities, Boston, San Francisco, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Denver, the District of Columbia, and Baltimore. Twenty-four cities will be announced in 2016.

Over the next four years, the goals of the youth initiative (Play, Learn, Serve and Work) include engaging over 10 million young people in outdoor play in 50 key cities; providing outdoor educational opportunities to at least 10 million K-12 students; engaging 1 million volunteers annually in volunteer activities on public lands; and developing 100,000 work or training opportunities on America’s public lands.

Boiler Plate: 
On Tuesday, June 2nd, Baltimore officially became the 11th city to join the Department of the Interior’s 50 Cities Initiative. Staff from The Corps Network as well as representatives from Civic Works, Baltimore’s Conservation Corps, attended an event at Middle Branch Park along the Patapsco River where Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement. Also in attendance at the event were Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, White House Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes, the YMCA and several other local organizations.

Mary Ellen's Blog: Play, Learn, Serve and Work - What Corps Do Best


Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Miami's Mayor Tomas Pedro Regalado with Greater Miami Service Corps. Miami is one of 50 cities where The Corps Network, YMCA, National League of Cities and the Department of the Interior are partnering to get more youth outdoors.


For over a hundred years, the YMCA has provided communities with the resources and facilities to help people of all ages lead healthier, more active lifestyles. Through classes, camps, organized sports and programs offering everything from youth counseling to healthy cooking tips, the Y helps individuals and families find fun ways to exercise their bodies, minds and spirits. The Y is more than a gym; it’s a community hub.

With such a strong history of engaging people in play and activity, it only makes sense that YMCA would be involved in promoting Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell’s initiative to bridge the divide between America’s youth and the great outdoors. Since last spring, the Y and the National League of Cities (NLC) have been working in partnership to advance the Secretary’s goal to get more youth playing in parks and participating in outdoor recreation, learning in nature’s classroom, volunteering on public lands, and working to preserve and restore our natural resources. American Express committed $5 million to this project just last week.  Now, with additional support from the Department of Interior, The Corps Network will join YMCA and NLC by integrating the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) into their efforts. 

The Corps Network has been actively involved in the DOI’s youth initiative ever since Secretary Jewell announced it in the fall of 2013. Service and Conservation Corps are essential to meeting the initiative’s Service and Work goals to bring the 21CSC to scale and develop the next generation of conservation stewards and land managers by engaging 100,000 youth and veterans in projects that protect, restore and enhance America’s natural and cultural resources. Now, through this partnership with DOI, YMCA and NLC, The Corps Network will be more directly involved in meeting the youth initiative’s Play and Learn goals.

Over the next three years, member organizations of The Corps Network will place individual Corpsmembers at YMCA branches in 50 cities across the country. These Corpsmembers will assist the Y's Community Coordinators, building off YMCA and NLC relationships with community organizations and local leadership to develop opportunities for people to get outdoors and participate in environmental service projects. The goal is for each Community Coordinator to engage 10,000 to 20,000 volunteers in each of the 50 selected cities. Some of these service projects will undoubtedly be with Corps.

I am excited about this new partnership and believe it will prove to be an effective way to introduce a new audience to Corps, outdoor recreation and the importance of conservation. It will allow Corps to shine for what they do best: engaging people in service that improves communities and the environment. This initiative will result in more youth playing in parks and learning about nature through outdoor exploration; more volunteers protecting and enhancing their local natural spaces; and more people engaging with their local Corps.

The Corps Network and its member Corps have been helping people develop strong, lasting connections to nature for many years. Now, with the creation of the Community Coordinator position and a role for Corpsmembers in assisting these Coordinators, Corps will be able to expand their important role in helping people play, learn, serve and work outdoors.