National Trails Day Photo Contest - 2016

National Trails Day is coming up (Saturday, June 4th) and we know a lot of you have events planned.
What a perfect opportunity for a photo contest!

 

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

  1. Host or participate in a National Trails Day event. Be sure to take lots of pictures.
  2. Post your best pictures (there’s no limit) on social media: Facebook and/or Twitter and/or Instagram. In order to enter your photo in the contest, you must tag The Corps Network (@TheCorpsNetwork) in your caption. Also remember to use #NationalTrailsDay and tag American Hiking Society (@AmericanHiking).

Deadline: you must post your pictures on social media on or before 9:00 a.m. (EDT) Monday, June 13th. We’ll announce the winner on our social channels on Wednesday, June 15th. Submissions will be judged by staff from The Corps Network and American Hiking Society.
 

WHAT'S THE INCENTIVE?

  1. Who doesn’t like a little friendly competition among Corps? Show us that your NTD project is the best! 
  2. The American Hiking Society will share some of the pictures through their social channels. 
  3. We’re always looking for great pictures for our publications, website and social media. We’ll be sure to use pictures from this contest in our annual report and other nationally disseminated documents. Plus, we’ll feature the winning picture on our new Facebook banner. 
     

SUGGESTIONS

  • Get an action shot 
  • Take a before and after picture 
  • Make sure your NTD event is registered with AHS: http://nationaltrailsday.americanhiking.org/add-event/ 
  • In the caption, tell us where you are and what you’re doing 
     

QUESTIONS

Contact Hannah Traverse, Communications Manager: htraverse@corpsnetwork.org

Utah Conservation Corps to Launch Nation’s First Fossil-Free Bike Crew

From Utah Conservation Corps
For Immediate Release
February 25, 2015

The Utah Conservation Corps (UCC) has secured a $20,000 grant from Utah State Park’s Recreational Trails Program to launch the nation’s first fossil-free bike crew. This four-person AmeriCorps crew will be based out of UCC’s Salt Lake City field office and will use cargo bicycles to transport themselves, tools, food, and camping gear to two Utah State Park sites for seven weeks during the summer. The crew will cycle from Salt Lake City to both East Canyon State Park (33 miles away) and Deer Creek Canyon (56 miles away) for six-day work hitches before returning back to Salt Lake City. During their 7 weeks, the crew will complete two miles of trail construction and five miles trail maintenance at the two state parks.

“This crew advances the UCC and the conservation corps movement into a more sustainable future” said director Sean Damitz. “UCC staff has been dedicated to launching this crew to address issues of carbon footprint and air quality while sending a message that conservation work can be completed solely by human-powered transportation. “

A kickoff event for the crew is being planned for downtown Salt Lake City at noon on Wednesday June 3, 2015. The UCC is currently recruiting applicants to be part of this bike crew. The UCC is also approaching businesses for additional funding and in-kind donations for the crew.

In 2014, 165 UCC AmeriCorps members created or maintained 177 miles of trail, constructed or repaired 8.5 miles of fence, restored 14,996 acres of public land and recruited 4,214 volunteers serving 9,582 hours on projects throughout Utah.

More information on UCC can be found at http://www.usu.edu/ucc

About the Division of Student Services at USU

Led by Vice President James Morales, the Division of Student Services at Utah State University is committed to student success and organized into 15 unique departments, each with a variety of dedicated programs and services that foster engagement, leadership, wellness and access and diversity for all students.

Contact:

Sean Damitz, Center for Civic Engagement and Service-Learning

(cell) 435-770-6104
sean.damitz@usu.edu

Boiler Plate: 
The Utah Conservation Corps (UCC) has secured a $20,000 grant from Utah State Park’s Recreational Trails Program to launch the nation’s first fossil-free bike crew. This four-person AmeriCorps crew will be based out of UCC’s Salt Lake City field office and will use cargo bicycles to transport themselves, tools, food, and camping gear to two Utah State Park sites for seven weeks during the summer.

Northwest Youth Corps Partners with 2015 American Trails International Trails Symposium

Next May, the 2015 American Trails International Trails Symposium will take place in Portland, Oregon. Northwest Youth Corps has been helping to work on the Symposium and will represent the Corps Movement at the Symposium as the trails world continues to focus on youth as an integral part of their efforts to build and maintain trail systems, and continue to make them a terrific resource for today's Americans.

You can read more about the Symposium and "Ten Reasons to Attend" on pages 10-13 in the Fall edition of American Trails magazine. 

Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa Enhances Trails in American Gothic Town



Photo: Iowa corps members Sara Anderson and Derek Bean pose in front of
the famed American Gothic house in Eldon, Iowa


From the Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa newsletter - April 11, 2014

In mid-March, an Iowa crew cleared brush from a creek edge to enhance a trail running through the city of Eldon, Iowa, famous for the Grant Wood painting, “American Gothic.” They had a little fun while on site!

Senator Max Baucus Volunteers with Montana Conservation Corps

Patrick Cote/Daily Inter Lake

On Thursday last week, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) joined Montana Conservation Corps for some trailbuilding fun in the Flathead National Forest. After being damaged by a fire in 2001, the Corps has been working with the U.S. Forest Service for the past two years to restore and maintain the 15 mile Glacier View Mountain Trail. NBC Montana and ABC Fox Montana both covered the story with videos.

According to ABC Fox, Senator Baucus said "What drives all of us, I think, is beauty, the naturalness of our state, connecting with the land, the water, the air. Not only for ourselves, but for our kids, our grandkids, and that's a powerful force."  

NBC Montana also quoted Montana Conservation Corps Executive Director, Jono McKinney: "Though we do a lot of conservation work our mission is about developing young people. Helping them learn job skills, learn to work together in teams, a lot of leadership and communication development...[On the trail project:] When you've finished the work, what you have created is something that will last. So people really have a sense that the work they're doing really has a purpose, a meaning, and made a difference. And that's very rewarding."

Boiler Plate: 
On Thursday last week, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) joined Montana Conservation Corps for some trailbuilding fun in the Flathead National Forest. After being damaged by in 2001, the Corps has been working with the U.S. Forest Service for the past two years to restore and maintain the 15 mile trail.

2013 Corpsmember of the Year, Jesse Roehm



 

Jesse Roehm understood at a very young age what it means to be a good environmental steward. Through many small acts, his family conveyed to him the importance of protecting nature and maintaining a small carbon footprint. He remembers helping his father cover their windows in shrink wrap every fall to reduce the amount of energy they consumed to heat their house in a suburb of Indianapolis. He remembers how he and his brother never watched TV or played videogames; they much preferred to spend their days tramping through the woods, digging in the dirt and fishing in the creek. As Jesse got a little older, the concept of environmental stewardship gained further clarity through his participation in the Boy Scouts. His Eagle Scout project involved spreading awareness about invasive species by writing for the newspaper, handing out information at community events, and leading an eradication project at a local park.

Jesse’s upbringing helped him appreciate the importance of community involvement and activism, but he feels that he started to lose sight of some of his values while he was in college. When he graduated from Indiana State University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and international studies, Jesse decided he was ready to make some changes in his life. He wanted to find himself and reconnect with his beliefs, so he decided to devote a year to service.

“I’m not exactly sure how I initially heard about AmeriCorps. I was loosely considering doing the Peace Corps, but through research I found out that there were also domestic Corps. I thought that would be a better fit for me because I didn’t really think I was ready to commit two-and-a-half years to go abroad and leave family and friends,” said Jesse. “I knew I was interested in AmeriCorps, but there weren’t a whole lot of AmeriCorps options in Indiana and I had wanted to move out to Colorado just to kind of get away. I had spent my whole life in Indiana and I was looking to make a fresh start.”

As someone who loves to go skiing and backpacking, Jesse was lured by Colorado’s mountains. He already had several good friends in Colorado, so he knew that if he went there he would have a place to stay until he got on his feet. It wasn’t long after Jesse arrived in Denver that he found Mile High Youth Corps; an organization that focuses on community building, energy conservation and wilderness land management. MHYC seemed like a perfect fit for Jesse, so he soon dove headfirst into a 10-month-long AmeriCorps Leadership and Conservation Program. He spent that first spring with the Corps installing water saving measures in low-income homes.

“I stared poverty in the face and made real and tangible changes,” said Jesse. “I began to relearn the concept of community and feel a sense of belonging to a greater cause.”

Through his commitment to helping others and making a difference, Jesse proved to be a natural leader. He was elected by his peers to Leadership Council; the Corpsmember-led governing body of Mile High. He served as the voice of his crew, enacted policy changes based on Corpsmember input and organized agency-wide events.



Once the summer came around, Jesse was promoted to Assistant Crew Leader. Around the same time, he and his peers transitioned to land conservation work for the summer and fall months.

“I think definitely what stood out to me during that first year with the Corps was the work that I did on land conservation,” said Jesse. “For roughly six months I was part of a chainsaw crew. I worked with the same Crew Leader and some of the same crewmembers and we had a very successful two seasons together in terms of how cohesive we were as a group. I’m really proud of our accomplishments.”

At the end of Jesse’s ten-month term, he was hired by MHYC as an Alumni Mentor for a 1,700 hour term. The Mentor position allowed him to assist with Corpsmember hiring and recruitment, support program development, and serve as a liaison between Corpsmembers and staff. Jesse also assumed the responsibility of coordinating and facilitating MHYC’s first Crew Leader training, and he helped plan MHYC’s first Career Day: an event that gives Corpsmembers the opportunity to learn more about MHYC staff and ask questions about current job market trends in the conservation field. Because of Jesse’s leadership and organizational skills, both of these events were a great success. 

Though Jesse was instrumental in implementing organization-wide policies and events that touched many people in the MHYC community, some of his most meaningful experiences came from simply working with Corpsmembers and other young people in the program.

“As an Alumni Mentor, I provided leadership, support and training for Corpsmembers in our Energy, Water and Land programs,” said Jesse. “My role was to connect with Corpsmembers on an individual level, ensure that they were engaging in meaningful service opportunities and educational experiences and provide on-going suggestions for improvements in our programming. At its simplest, I maintained and promoted a positive corps culture across the agency”

 Throughout his time with MHYC, Jesse has, according to his supervisors, “displayed a commitment to high quality work that is difficult to match. He gives 100 percent every day and motivates his peers through challenging times.” These claims are easily backed up by the Corpsmembers that Jesse has mentored and inspired over the past couple years.

 “I feel lucky to have Jesse as a mentor,” said one Corpsmember “I think he truly believes in the influence that Mile High and AmeriCorps can have on young adults, and this belief comes through in his overwhelming concern and compassion towards every single Corpsmember. He has been a key agent in helping me to always see the bigger picture and to understand truly what service means. Jesse has made a huge impact on me and how I have come to view my own term of service.”

Another Corpsmember commented, “At the end of every day I would see Jesse getting back from the day’s work site where he had been cutting down trees for forest thinning.  He would always have a smile on his face even though he would crawl out of the van dirtier than anyone else in the van; a strong testament to his ability to work hard all hours of the day while constantly being upbeat and positive.  Every day that he comes to work he goes above and beyond what is required of him.  His positivity and work ethic are infectious.”

After 3,400 hours with Mile High, Jesse became a staff member in late 2012. As a Program Specialist for the Corps’ Conservation Program, Jesse now leads the AmeriCorps Leadership and Conservation crew that he was a part of in 2011. He is excited to have the opportunity to create an AmeriCorps experience for his Corpsmembers that was as valuable as his own.

“I am thrilled to be able to continue promoting individual learning, leadership and personal growth among Corpsmembers,” said Jesse.

While working full-time at Mile High Youth Corps, Jesse plans to use his AmeriCorps Education Awards to pursue a master’s degree in Public Administration at the University of Colorado, Denver. Ultimately, he hopes to work in a managerial role at a Denver area non-profit focused on community development. Though he might not stay at Mile High forever, Jesse will forever be changed by his time with the Corps.

“At the end of my two years in AmeriCorps, the biggest change is who I see in the mirror. I am proud of who I am. My AmeriCorps experience kindled a passion for service inside me. I learned the value of community, hard work and integrity and now live in service to those values. I would like to thank Mile High Youth Corps for providing me with the tools to make a difference in my own life and the lives of others.”

 

2013 Corpsmember of the Year, Sarah Huff


 

Sarah Huff enrolled at Shasta College in California after she graduated from high school in 2007. She wasn’t sure what kind of career she wanted to pursue and tried to keep an open mind about the future, but she didn’t feel inspired by any of her classes. Sarah completed most of her general course requirements after four semesters, yet she was no closer to declaring a major. It was time to try something new.

Around this time, Sarah came across a brochure advertising the California Conservation Corps (CCC). Across the front of the handout was the Corps’ official motto: “Hard work, low pay, miserable conditions…and more!” Sarah had never imagined herself taking a job that required long hours of exhausting physical labor, but she was looking for a change and the Corps would certainly present many new experiences. Within just two months of attending a CCC information session, Sarah joined the Corps and became a member of the Weaverville CCC expansion crew.

Sarah had always enjoyed being outside and she had recently discovered a love for backpacking, but before becoming a Corpsmember she had only ever worked in a book store and an office. Despite her inexperience, Sarah immediately stood out as a model Corpsmember. She was a quick learner and she willingly took on new responsibilities. Her hard work contributed immensely to the success of the newly-formed Weaverville crew. She endured the sometimes harsh conditions of working in the back country with a positive attitude, swapping jokes and riddles with her fellow Corpsmembers to keep up morale on long hikes and in bad weather.
 


 

It wasn’t long before Sarah was promoted to a Crew Leader position. She was so respected by her supervisors that she became one of only nine Corpsmembers statewide selected to represent the CCC in Australia for a two month exchange program with Conservation Volunteers Australia. While abroad, Sarah worked in flood recovery, tree planting and invasive species removal.

“It was a really good experience - I met a lot of neat people. For us it was basically like a paid vacation, but it was really cool to know that we were helping change peoples’ lives,” said Sarah. “They were so grateful to have us. It was less than a year after they’d had these big floods and they were still trying to get back on their feet. So it was really great to not only get to see a new country, but know that you made a difference while you were there.”

When Sarah returned from Australia she was promoted again and became a Crewleader II with the Redding CCC’s Type II Fire Crew. As the only woman on the crew, Sarah at first felt like she needed to prove she was tough and could keep up with the guys. However, she is such a skilled firefighter and leader that it didn’t take much effort for her to quickly earn the respect of the rest of the team.

In addition to her work with the Corps, Sarah volunteered her time at many community events in order to earn her AmeriCorps Education Awards. Sarah spent many hours helping with the Annual Salmon Festival, the local Children’s Festival, and various service learning projects. She went above and beyond the call of duty and even came into work on her days off to help her supervisors buy food and prepare camps for “spike” operations. A “spike” is when a crew camps near a project site and the Corpsmembers work ten hour shifts for eight days in a row, often in remote locations without conveniences like running water, electricity, or cell phone reception. 

As one of Sarah’s supervisors said, “Sarah has a very positive effect on her peers. She is a great role model who ‘leads by example’ and shows others what they are capable of.” Sarah became known for her ability to motivate other Corpsmembers and for the way she relentlessly encouraged her peers to volunteer, work towards their Class B Driver’s licenses, and apply for jobs. During her term of service Sarah herself was able to earn her Class B license, move out of her parents’ house, and finally find a direction for her future. 

Sarah was offered a number of jobs with the CCC, but after over two years of hard work she decided she was ready to go back to school. With the help of her AmeriCorps scholarship money, Sarah became a full-time student at American River College in January 2013. Her goal is to earn an associate’s degree in Environmental Conservation and then transfer to a school in the California State University system to complete a bachelor’s degree. Sarah is thankful that her time in the Corps helped her realize a passion for working outdoors. She hopes to eventually find a job in which she can use the skills she gained in the Corps. She has been researching positions with Corps and with agencies like the Park Service and the Forest Service.

“While in the CCC I've been a trail worker, a cook, a firefighter, a Crew Leader, a student and a teacher. I've done landscaping, fuel reduction, fence repair, habitat restoration and rock work. I’ve worked harder than I thought I could and been more exhausted than I thought possible. I've watched people come and go and made some great friends. Most importantly, I've made a difference.” 

2013 Corpsmember of the Year, Alex Hreha


 

Alex Hreha admits that during middle school and high school he was “a below average student at an above average weight.” He lacked self-confidence and didn’t have much motivation for school or any kind of physical activity.

Near the end of his junior year of high school, Alex started looking ahead to another uneventful summer of mowing his grandparents’ lawn. Then a friend told him about how she spent the previous summer as a member of an environmental conservation program for youth. She talked about how she got paid to work outdoors in beautiful natural settings, but she described the work as back-breaking and exhausting. Nonetheless, Alex was intrigued by the idea of having a real job. He filled out an application and was soon officially a member of the Sedona Youth Conservation Corps, a program operated by Coconino Rural Environment Corps (CREC).

Alex was initially apprehensive about what would be required of him as a Corpsmember. He was understandably concerned about spending long hours doing physical labor in the Arizona heat. Alex didn’t have to speculate about the Corps experience for long, however; they put him right to work.  It was 105 degrees on his first day and his crew was assigned to smash cement blocks that were buried in the ground next to an asphalt parking lot. Alex says he woke up the next morning with “blisters growing out of blisters,” but it felt good to come home tired after a day of productive work. He quickly discovered that he had a passion for conservation. He thrived during the next six weeks of the program, which involved doing trail maintenance, rock work, and fence construction.



 

By the time school started again, Alex had lost over 25 pounds and gained a completely new outlook on life. Though he had never been a stellar student before, Alex produced excellent grades throughout his senior year. He also started an exercise routine and continued to lose weight. By graduation he had lost over 50 pounds and participated in five half-marathons. He decided to continue this positive lifestyle by joining a six-month-long CREC adult program. 

Alex was the youngest person on the adult crew, but he stood out as an excellent leader. The next six months simply reinforced his desire to work in conservation. Alex loved having the opportunity to travel throughout the state and help protect the natural beauty of such places as Walnut Canyon, Aravaipa Canyon, The Coronado Mountain Range, and the Sedona and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.

“One of my most memorable moments of the six-month term was during an intense surprise thunder storm. We were cutting trail tread into the dirt on an exposed ridge as the rain became heavier and heavier. Pretty soon it was like trying to walk in chocolate pudding, and the lightning was getting closer,” said Alex. “We continued our work and were counting the seconds between each lightning strike, when, all of a sudden, we were blinded and deafened by a massive lightning strike. A pine tree about 100 feet away took a powerful hit; it felt as if someone had shined a flashlight in my eyes and screamed in my ears. Countless moments like these engrave my memory, and my love for conservation work continues to grow.”

During a project at Walnut Canyon, Alex wandered into the visitor center and came across a black and white photograph from the 1930s that pictured the Civilian Conservation Corps members who built the stone staircases that encircle the canyon.

“I felt a deep connection inside myself and realized all the strenuous work I had completed would remain for centuries,” said Alex.

At the end of the term, Alex used his hard-earned money to move to Prescott, AZ. He enrolled in a community college with the help of his AmeriCorps Education Awards and soon received his Emergency Medical Technician certificate. During the semester, he also completed his first full marathon. Alex was staying active and learning new things, but he missed the outdoors. Shortly after receiving his EMT certification, Alex was accepted for a position as a CREC Youth Conservation Corps Mentor.

Alex had hoped to receive such a position ever since his service in CREC’s Sedona Youth Conservation Corps. He wanted the opportunity to lead new Corpsmembers and hopefully help them realize the same benefits he gained from his experience with a youth crew. Looking after a group of teenagers was a new challenge for Alex, but the two months of the program were ultimately very rewarding. There were a number of occasions throughout the summer when Alex was able to put his EMT training to use. At one point he was able to help a Corpsmember with a scratched cornea, and on another occasion he diagnosed and assisted a Corpsmember who was suffering from hyponatremia; a condition of excess heat, too much water, and not enough electrolytes.

“These terrifying moments challenged me and strengthened my overall character, and after a very successful summer I felt I had a very positive impact on my young crew,” said Alex.

Even after a summer of leading Corpsmembers through desert monsoons, working in 110 degree heat, and volunteering at an animal shelter walking 150 pound pit bulls, Alex was not done with his service at CREC. He was hired as Assistant Crew Leader of the Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition; a new invasive species removal crew. Alex was eight years younger than some of the adults on the crew, but he jumped at the opportunity to continue building his leadership skills. The three-month-long program gave Alex a chance to also learn new skills in forestry; on his fourth day of chainsaw orientation he was able to cut down a 100 foot tall Ponderosa Pine.

After the end of the program in December 2012, Alex took another 3-month-long position with CREC so he could continue to gain experience. He plans to apply for an additional 3 months of service in March 2013, and then lead another Youth Conservation Corps crew during the summer. His goal is to eventually use the rest of his AmeriCorps Education Awards to go back to school and get the credentials he needs to pursue a career in emergency medical response.

“My story would not exist without The Corps Network, and all the outstanding people involved in making programs like CREC possible. CREC and all the other wonderful corps programs provide great opportunities and memories for people across the country, and it is an amazing honor to represent all their hard work and effort. Theodore Roosevelt once said ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.’ I feel a great sense of pride knowing there are tens of thousands of Corpmembers like me across the country putting all their effort into great causes. Together we make a positive impact.”

 

 

Conservation Corps Exchange Program: New Mexico to Texas


Picture taken from the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps Facebook page: RMYC members visiting the American YouthWorks Corps in Austin, Texas

Austin’s American YouthWorks’ Texas Conservation Corps program is hosting a youth crew from Taos, New Mexico at Bastrop State Park this week.

(Press Release from American YouthWorks - November 7, 2012)

Austin, TX -  Austin’s American YouthWorks’ Texas Conservation Corps program is participating in an exchange that brings youth from Taos’ Rocky Mountain Youth Corps program to Bastrop State Park for a week of work rebuilding the park’s trails.  As the first part of the exchange, the Texas crew worked in the Carson National Forest near Taos, NM last month.

The Texas program has been working hard for one year to bring the central Texas State Park back to it’s former glory after last year’s Labor Day fire.  They have rebuilt trails, felled hazard trees, protected park culverts and other infrastructure from flood damage, managed volunteer days, and fashioned the park’s drought and fire killed trees into new park footbridges.  The crew is a part of American YouthWork’s Texas Conservation Corps.  There are similar Conservation Corps programs nationwide, especially across the American West, and many of them get together to share best practices.  During one of these sessions, the idea for a crew exchange was born.  The American YouthWorks team travelled to Taos on October 21st to spend a week of sub-freezing nights in the mountains of northern New Mexico.  They worked as a chainsaw crew alongside the Taos-based Rocky Mountain Youth Corps on a hazard and diseased tree thinning project in a mixed conifer forest in the Carson National Forest. 

On Monday, November 5 the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps crew travelled to Bastrop State Park and joined the American YouthWorks crew to complete additional trail work for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at Bastrop State Park.  They will be working on reconstruction of trail footbridges that were lost in the fire.  At the end of their week, they will also spend Saturday with the Travis County Audubon Society installing hundreds of new native plants in east Austin’s Blair Woods Preserve.


MEDIA CONTACTS at AMERICAN YOUTHWORKS:

Corpsmembers Complete Park Upgrades

From the October 2012 edition of Corps Connection - the Sequoia Community Corps Newsletter 

In August, the Sequoia Community Corps completed work on 1800 square feet of concrete sidewalk for Mulcahy Park in the City of Tulare.  The sidewalk was six feet wide and 300 feet long.  The project, contracted by the City of Tulare, took one supervisor and four Corpsmembers eight working days to complete.
 
The new sidewalk is part of the City of Tulare’s new Mulcahy Park.  When complete, the park will have sports fields, lighted walking trails, shade arbors and covered play areas for young children.
 
The concrete sidewalk installed by the Sequoia Community Corps will provide an easy and safe way for area residents to pass from the south end of the park to the north.  It will also be included in the walking path that totals 1/2 mile.
 
Congratulations to the City of Tulare on this exciting project!

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