Over 300 Veterans and Youth to go to Work Improving Natural and Historic Resources
Today, as part of the observance of Veterans Day, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced the partners and projects that will be funded in this fiscal year to provide job and training opportunities to veterans and youth.
"Our continuing work to support the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps is not only in concert with the Obama Administration's goal of reconnecting Americans to the outdoors, it also furthers crucial projects that improve forest health, watershed restoration and recreational opportunities," said Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This landmark partnership with AmeriCorps to jointly support service opportunities for youth and veterans is an all-around win for our young people and our public lands."
"This is a great example of an innovative partnership that expands economic opportunity for young people, taps the leadership skills of veterans, improves our national forests, and puts a new generation on a lifelong path of service," said Wendy Spencer, chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. "Young people and veterans bring extraordinary skill and passion to conservation service, and we are thrilled to join with USDA to expand service opportunities that strengthen our environment and build economic opportunity for those who serve."
The projects will create opportunities for 300 youth and veterans who will serve through AmeriCorps and as part of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), working to restore and conserve natural and historic resources on National Forests and Grasslands in more than 10 states. The $3.7 million in joint funding for this effort was announced earlier this year.
USDA partnered with CNCS to identify and jointly fund high-quality projects. In addition, funding was allocated to partner organizations whose work helps accomplish key Forest Service priorities, including hazardous fuels management, watershed protection, trail maintenance, and recreation and facilities management. The new partnership also reflects the spirit of the Presidential Task Force on Expanding National Service, which is charged with addressing national challenges by expanding national service opportunities through interagency and public-private partnerships.
The projects are diverse and will take place on public lands from Hawaii to the Gulf Coast:
- Building on the successful partnership with a Mt. Adams VetsWork program that engages veterans on restoration, recreation and facilities management projects in Oregon and Missouri, this AmeriCorps grantee will now expand into the Southern Region. Nineteen veterans will help generate capacity to engage additional volunteers and service participants in high-priority recreation and resource management projects in the Gulf Coastal Plain Forests.
- Forests in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia will field six Southeast Youth Corps (SYC) crews. In partnership with Conservation Legacy, the parent organization, the crews will perform general trail maintenance over an eight-week period.
- The Corps Network's Opportunity Youth Service Initiative will employ youth from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds on projects in Oregon, Mississippi, and Texas. The Northwest Youth Corps and the American Youth Works AmeriCorps crews will work on projects that will improve hundreds of miles of trails and thousands of acres of public lands.
- The Kupu program in Hawaii will recruit 80 young people in the summer of 2015 to work on projects throughout the Hawaii islands.
- The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will deploy two crews to national forests in New Mexico to support Forest Service personnel on hazardous fuels management and trails maintenance projects. Their efforts will improve trails on the Santa Fe, Carson and Cibola National Forests.
- A total of 19 new crew members will work with the Utah Conservation Corps. They will restore trails and public lands on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache and other National Forests.
Through the 21CSC, young people and veterans accomplish meaningful work and gain important personal and professional skills while building a lifelong connection to the outdoors. AmeriCorps has a longstanding commitment to addressing environmental challenges, from building trails and restoring waterways to fighting fires and removing invasive species.
The Forest Service continues to work with partners and other engaged federal agencies to support and grow the 21CSC by providing young people and veterans with life-changing work and service opportunities. To date, 152 organizations have been recognized as 21CSC members. To become a 21CSC member and help develop the next generation of conservation stewards, interested organizations can visit www.21csc.org.
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and other programs, and leads President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.