[Photos] Youth Conservation Corps on Earth Day 2015

On Earth Day, members of Youth Conservation Corps helped prepare some raised garden beds. Photos below!

How Service and Conservation Corps Celebrated Earth Day in 2015

Corpsmembers enrolled in Service and Conservation Corps help protect the Earth and its wonders on a daily basis through their service.

Earth Day always provides a great additional opportunity to promote the benefits, goals, and fun of spending time outdoors and in nature.

Below you can discover the numerous ways that Corps programs served the Earth this year and gained attention for their work. For instance, 2 mayors of major cities spent time with Corps! One Corps also participated in a Google Hangout for Earth Day with the Clinton Global Initiative. 

Boiler Plate: 
Discover the numerous ways that Corps programs served the Earth this year and gained attention for their work. For instance, 2 mayors of major cities spent time with Corps! One Corps also participated in a Google Hangout for Earth Day with the Clinton Global Initiative.

Mary Ellen's Blog: Find Your Park and Protect it

A Corpsmember with the Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative on the 5th anniversary of the
Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

This blog also appeared on HuffPost Green

April is a big month for Corps and The Corps Network! For starters, April is when we celebrate both Earth Day and Arbor Day. As organizations that empower individuals to actively participate in improving the environment and their communities, Corps appreciate the attention these holidays bring to the ways we can each play a role in protecting our planet.  Many Corps use Earth Day as an opportunity to engage their communities in conservation-focused volunteer projects. This year is no exception; we look forward to seeing all the great photos of Corps leading their friends, neighbors and local schools in planting trees, cleaning up parks and beaches, and pulling invasive plants. You can follow Earth Day-related Corps activities too by following the hashtags #corpsearthday and #servetheearth on social media. 

Though “every day is Earth Day” for Conservation Corps, we understand all too well how difficult it can be for many people to find time to enjoy the outdoors, let alone feel like they can contribute to protecting our environment in a meaningful way. However, the message of Earth Day is that we can (and should) all be environmentally conscious, even if it’s just by recycling, being mindful of our water use, and turning off the lights when we leave a room. We applaud Corps for spreading this important environmental education on Earth Day and throughout the year, and for engaging people who might not traditionally be involved in the environmental conservation movement. As anyone who has participated in a Corps can tell you, service to one’s community and the environment can be a profoundly empowering experience. Corps teach us that everyone – young people and the traditionally disenfranchised in particular – have the power and the right to make a positive impact on their environment.

In addition to annual holidays, this April is important because it marks the official launch of Find Your Park; an initiative of the National Park Service and National Park Foundation to connect the next generation to America’s parks. As studies show, today’s children spend significantly less time outdoors than their parents or grandparents. They are more connected to screens than they are to nature. With its centennial coming up in 2016, the National Park Service is focused on making sure its next 100 years are even stronger than the first 100. To do this, they need to ensure that generations to come have an interest in not only visiting parks, but becoming public land and water managers. Corps are united with the Park Service in the goal to get more young people outdoors and interested in conservation. For years, Corps have completed vitally important maintenance and improvement projects in National Parks across the country, ranging from Shenandoah in Virginia, to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, to Olympic National Park in Washington. The Corps Network was proud to participate in a Find Your Park launch event last week at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.

Another reason why this April in particular is important is that it marks the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; the largest spill in America’s history. You may have seen news stories in the past few days about how the recovery process in the Gulf has been slow and there is still a great deal of restoration work to be done. Fortunately, not all of the news out of the Gulf this month is bad news; the second phase of The Corps Network’s Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative (GCRI) pilot project got underway last week in Mississippi. Corpsmembers will spend the next seven weeks restoring coastal habitats in Mississippi’s Hancock, Harrison and Jackson Counties. The goal of the GCRI is build the capacity of Corps throughout the Gulf, giving young people in coastal communities the opportunity to be trained for careers in the increasingly important fields of wetland and riparian habitat restoration. The Corpsmembers who participate in the current GCRI pilot project could one day be the conservation experts who help prevent future manmade disasters in the Gulf and make sure all natural disasters are responded to in a timely fashion. 

One last reason why April is an important month for the Corps world is that spring means the start of the field season. With warmer weather and the end of the school year in sight, Corps are busy starting projects or finishing their final preparations to welcome Corpsmembers for spring and summer crews. This is a time when some Corps host orientations for recently recruited Corpsmembers, exposing them to environmental stewardship and the growing diversity of “green careers” available.

April makes us think of things turning green, of new life and growth. It’s a time when we think about our impact on the environment and what we can do to ensure we make a positive impact. This April, I hope you consider getting outdoors to Find Your Park, join a volunteer project, or enjoy the beauty of the natural world just outside your front door. As the great conservationist John Muir once said, "I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."

15 Inspirational Quotes for Earth Day (or Any Day)

Earth Day is a great time to take action and reflect upon the wonders of nature. Here are some quotes to inspire you on Earth Day and beyond!

"It is an incalculable added pleasure to any one's sum of happiness if he or she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature." 
Theodore Roosevelt

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. 

Rachel Carson

"Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's Party!" 

— Robin Williams

"My experience with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and my crew taught me to be patient, to laugh at things, especially when things go completely opposite of how I thought they would go, to work hard and to treat the environment and myself in the best way. I learned about the amazing beauty and stillness of nature, and the physical work it takes to preserve such wonder. I learned the value of preservation and trail work needed to protect the environment that offers us so much. I pushed myself farther than I thought I could ever go. Through this environmental and team service work, I, like many in my crew, found myself." 

— Gracie Billingsley, a Corps Network 2015 Corpsmember of the Year

"Na wai ke kupu o ʻoe?

Meaning whose sprout are you? This is a question I hold dear to my heart, because in order for the seedling to become the tree it must sprout and break out of the ground first. And for me personally I felt like Kupu really watered, sheltered, and encouraged me out of the ground and to drink in the sunlight. Now it’s up to me to grow to be that big koa tree. And with this question you should be asking yourself, who helped you sprout and how can you pass that on to change someone else’s life by encouraging their breakthrough of the lepo or the dirt." 

— Jon Brito, a Corps Network 2014 Corpsmember of the Year

"A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children."

— John James Audobon

"Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven't done a thing. You are just talking."

— Wangari Maathai

"To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from."

— Terry Tempest Williams

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls."

— Edward Abbey

"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."

— John Muir

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect.”

— Chief Seattle

I left the luxuries of life behind for a simple life. The cell phone was traded for envelopes and stamps. My motorcycle was replaced by a pair of hiking boots. I never imagined myself bathing in a creek or climbing a peak. I worked on mountain ridges during thunderstorms, near soothing creeks, at the world famous Yosemite Falls and throughout Northern California Wilderness. The work was intense and strenuous, and the days were long. I slept on the ground and under the stars. All the sights, sounds and smells will never be forgotten, because pictures and stories will never do justice to what I’ve experienced. Yet the biggest impact was that of my crew. We were an extremely diverse yet close knit crew of twelve. We worked, ate, hiked, relaxed, played, lived and grew together. I made friends for life. Despite five months of arduous labor my impact on the Wilderness is truly insignificant. Rain, snowfall or an earthquake can undo everything I’ve made, dug and cleaned this summer. But my influence on my crewmates and theirs on me will never be washed away.  

— Rosalio Cardenas, a 2007 Corpsmember of the Year

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk. The rain makes running pools in the gutter. The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night. And I love the rain. 

— Langston Hughes

You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.

— Edward O Wilson

"Many of us ask what can I, as one person, do, but history shows us that everything good and bad starts because somebody does something or does not do something."

— Sylvia Earle


Boiler Plate: 
Earth Day is a great time to take action and reflect upon the wonders of nature. Here are some quotes to inspire you on Earth Day and beyond!

Earth Day 2014

EarthCorps Corpsmembers “spread some Earth Month love” with students.

A Roundup of Earth Day News

Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, writes about green service opportunities in an op-ed for the Huffington Post. In the very first paragraph she mentions none other than Mike Bremer, a 2012 Corpsmember of the Year.

Like many transitioning service members, Mike Bremer was having a tough time finding work after he came home. Then he joined AmeriCorps, serving on the all veterans fire team with the Southwest Conservation Corps. With the skills he learned, Mike was able to secure a job with the U.S. Forest Service as a full-time firefighter. Read more

Watch an Earth Day video chat with Mike Connor, recently confirmed Deputy Secretary of the Interior (P.S. tune in at 2:35 to hear a question submitted by Harry Bruell, CEO and President of Conservation Legacy, and jump to 28:35 to hear a question from Levi Novey, Director of Communications and Marketing at The Corps Network).


A few highlights of Corps Earth Day projects...

The entire month of April is Earth Month for EarthCorps. In total, they will host 22 events and mobilize more than 1,800 community volunteers in habitat restoration in community parks and green spaces.  Events will take place in the cities of Seattle, Everett, Mercer Island, Federal Way, and Tacoma. Activities mostly include invasive species removal. 


Kupu – Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps
On April 19th, volunteers with Kupu removed marine debris from Oahu's dirtiest beach. Kahuku Beach has more plastic than any other shoreline on Oahu.


New York Restoration Project – NYRP
New York Restoration Project planted trees in Astoria park on April 22nd.


American YouthWorks - Texas Conservation Corps

In the days leading up to Earth Day, a Corps Network-AmeriCorps crew from the Texas Conservation Corps teamed up with a neighborhood group and Boy Scout troop to install a new trail through a native prairie landscape in a historic central city park and museum in Austin, Texas.  The new 300 foot accessible trail at the Ney Museum was built by the Corpsmembers using native materials, including a natural plant-based stabilizer that created a more accessible and erosion resistant trail.  The trail will be quickly put to use to interpret the natural history of Central Texas to the thousands of school children and other visitors who tour the historic site each year.


Western Colorado Conservation Corps – WCCC

On April 11th, Western Colorado Conservation Corps generated 87 volunteer hours doing rockwork on the Tabeguache Trails System. Putting in place large rocks to deter mountain bikers, the volunteers created a connector trail specifically for hikers. This is one of the first trails of its kind in the area. In total, the crew constructed 200 feet of new trail, 2 retaining walls, 2 staircases and 1 armored section of trail.

“It’s awesome that we were able to move two ton rocks and disguise it like nothing happened,” said Chi Yun Takaki, an Assistant Crew Leader.


Youth Conservation Corps – YCC

Youth Conservation Corps spent the day "greening" their location in Waukegan, IL.  They built raised beds, filled them with soil and compost, and then planted them with flowers and vegetables. They also planted native prairie grasses around the building, along with bushes and other plants. 


[Video] Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell Highlights The Corps Network and Student Conservation Association for Volunteer Opportunities in Earth Day Chat

On Monday of this week, our new Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell participated in a special Earth Day webchat.

When asked a question about the Department of Interior partnering with nonprofits and corporations to boost volunteerism on public lands, here's what Secretary Jewell had to say:

Over 40 Youth Conservation and Service Corps to Participate in Nationwide Celebration of Earth Day, Environmental Stewardship, and AmeriCorps

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Over the coming week, over 40 Youth Conservation and Service Corps will host Earth Day events in partnership with AmeriCorps. These events, in conjunction with other Earth Day events implemented nationwide by other AmeriCorps programs, will highlight the importance of environmental stewardship in local communities.