What is The Corps Network?

Our Impact FY19

2018 National Conference Workshops and Plenaries


Workshop Block 1 – Monday Morning
Workshop Block 2 – Monday Afternoon
Workshop Block 3 – Tuesday Morning
Workshop Block 4 – Tuesday Afternoon
Workshop Block 5 – Tuesday Afternoon
Other Sessions – Various Times


  • Opening Session
    Sunday, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    Welcome to The Trail Ahead, The Corps Network 2018 National Conference! We’ll kick off this year’s event with a host of exciting speakers. We will hear a “Washington Update” from former United States Representatives Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Martin Frost (D-TX), respectively the President and Vice President of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress. We will also recognize several of our 2018 Projects of the Year, as well as the Student Conservation Association’s Reginald “Flip” Hagood, The Corps Network’s 2018 Legacy Achievement Award winner. Later in the program, we will be inspired by this year’s keynote speaker, Terry Brown, Superintendent of Fort Monroe National Monument.


  • The Moving Forward Initiative Presents: A Conversation with Dr. Dorceta Taylor & Gyasi Ross
    Monday, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
    Dr. Dorceta Taylor has been described as “a voice for Equity and Justice in the Environmental Movement” and “the country’s preeminent environmental justice scholar.” Dr. Taylor will provide an overview of her research and ongoing efforts to create a more diverse environmental movement. Following the presentation, she will participate in an interview and question/answer session with Gyasi Ross, Speaker. Launched by The Corps Network in the spring of 2017 with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the goal of The Moving Forward Initiative is to expand career exposure and increase employment in conservation for young adults of color. As part of this initiative, The Corps Network is exploring unconscious bias and structural racism within our own organization, our member Corps, and America’s land management agencies.


  • Disaster Ready: Corps Engagement in Disaster Readiness, Response & Resiliency
    Monday, 12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
    2017 was another record year for disasters in the United States, with 15 weather and climate events that exceeded $1 billion in losses. These events – including droughts, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and severe storms – caused catastrophic damage to our communities and public lands. Corps play an important role in disaster response, but our ability to contribute to other areas of the disaster cycle, including mitigating the impact of disaster events and contributing to the long-term recovery of our communities, is more important than ever. This plenary brings together major players in the disaster world to discuss new and innovative ideas for Corps engagement in disaster-related work.


  • Partnership for the 21CSC Meeting: Celebrating the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps
    Monday, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    The 21CSC is a bold national initiative to provide thousands of America’s young people and veterans the opportunity to serve our country and help build urban and rural economies by completing priority projects that strengthen America’s public lands infrastructure. The Partnership for the 21CSC supports the development and implementation of the 21CSC by focusing on the following areas: raising non-federal funding; bolstering federal support; and expanding partnerships and agreements that facilitate Corps engagement in important work. Come celebrate successes from the past year and learn what’s in store for the coming year.


  • The Trail Ahead for Civic Engagement: The Renewal of Civic Society in America
    Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
    With declining interest in civic engagement and trust in public institutions, and a rise in partisanship and separatism, the country seems increasingly divided. Many people seem more willing to place blame than take responsibility for finding a solution. Dr. Peter Levine, well-known author, scholar, and researcher on the topic of civic engagement, will share his extensive knowledge on the history and current status of civil society in the United States as well as his observations and opinions regarding its importance to the future of our nation. Peter will be joined by a panel of leaders in the National Service field to discuss the role service organizations and federal institutions need to take to set the nation on a path toward civic renewal.


  • Corpsmember, Education and Workforce Development Strategy
    Tuesday, 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
    At this strategy development session, join Corps staff from across the country for small group discussions focused on present and future Corpsmember development offerings. Facilitated conversations will center on the essential education, workforce development and support services Corps provide; what resources are necessary to sustain these services; and the potential for growth into new arenas. The goal of this session is to give participants the opportunity to learn from each other, while also helping The Corps Network develop our technical assistance, advocacy and communications strategies around Corpsmember Development.



  • Ocean and Coastal Restoration
    Our oceans are incredibly important ecosystems that we depend on for food, economic activity, energy, and climate sustainability, yet many of the oceans’ assets and ecosystems have been decimated over time by meager conservation efforts. The opportunity is ripe for Corps to build on the strategies and experience used in land conservation to help reinvigorate local economies and rejuvenate coastal ecosystems by further engaging in ocean and coastal restoration projects. Join coastal Corps, as well as experts in oceanic restoration, as they discuss potential project and funding opportunities for Corps.


  • City-Corps Partnerships: Roundtable Discussion
    Join staff from the National League of Cities and The Corps Network as we discuss the benefits and pain-points of partnering with cities on fee-for-service project work, Corpsmember development services, and large local initiatives. This interactive workshop will examine questions regarding where the Corps movement stands on engaging local governments as consistent and reliable partners. This workshop is recommended for Corps that are either currently working with municipal entities of any size, or are interested in doing so in the future.


  • #CorpsWork: Calculating our Return on Investment and Community Impact
    With ongoing budget and funding challenges, shifting federal priorities, and an increasing focus on performance and return on investment, we need to think about new ways to tell the Corps story that resonate and provide a full picture of the value we provide. Here we’ll look at a variety of metrics, evaluations, and successful studies that measure Corps program outcomes. We will also identify other external studies that could help show the value to our communities, public lands, and partners of Corps’ work in developing youth, helping veterans get on a career path, and meeting project priorities.


  • Changing the Narrative: Speaking Authentically
    Moving Forward Initiative
    Stories hold power. There is an African Proverb, “It’s Not What You Call Me, but What I Answer To.” Most of us develop our identities both internally and externally over the course of our lives. W.E.B. DuBois coined the term “double consciousness,” which is the “sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.” Certain narratives are repeated throughout society, directly impacting how certain communities and individuals experience the world and each other. How are we as staff and administrators impacted by these images, and how can we provide space for Corpsmembers to “authentically” be and define themselves.


  • Work-Based Learning: Employer Partnerships and Career Pathway Development 
    The Corps model has long been based on work-based learning where hands-on work and learning experiences translate into industry recognized credentials and certificates. Momentum has been building around developing more specific career pathways and different work-based learning models like apprenticeships, which depend on strong employer partnerships and input, and are important to producing and sustaining post-Corps outcomes and placements. As a value proposition, Corps are capacity-builders for federal agencies: they provide ready-to-work individuals for businesses seeking applicants with 21st Century Skills; and provide a diverse pool for the next generation workforce in natural resource and infrastructure industries facing retirements. This workshop will explore examples of mutually beneficial employer partnerships, as well as avenues for developing future work-based learning models.


  • The Trail to Success: Launching a Major Gifts Program
    Nearly 90% of all U.S. philanthropy comes from individuals, and 95% of that individual giving comes from 5% of donors. Does your fundraising program maximize efficiency and return on investment by focusing on major giving? Learn how Vermont Youth Conservation Corps reprioritized its development efforts and saw a 100% increase in philanthropic revenues – from $500,000 to $1 million – in four years.


  • Roundtable: Committing to our Veterans through Continued Service & Partnerships
    Corps are increasingly engaging veterans in a variety of programming to help ease the transition to civilian life, continue the ethic of service, and develop specific career pathways. While unemployment is at historic lows for veterans, many are underemployed or need additional outreach and support to take advantage of the opportunities Corps provide. To address these challenges, we will explore informational, supportive, and recruiting partnerships with veteran service organizations (VSO’s), other veteran programs, and Corps successes in these areas.


  • Supporting Single Identity-based Crews: How Corps are Increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to Promote Justice within the Outdoors
    Throughout the country, several Conservation Corps are initiating single identity-based crews that not only increase access for traditionally underrepresented populations, but also integrate and share these identities within the larger environmental movement. Join University of Oregon community planning graduate student Jordan Katcher as she shares findings from her research that discuss how these crews are increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion practices within Corps. Her workshop focuses on efforts and strategies that Corps can use to support single identity-based crews, and how Corps can promote advocacy for environmental justice within their entire organization.


  • Emotional Awareness and Critical Mentoring: Techniques to Bring About Change
    Moving Forward Initiative

    Emotional Awareness means knowing when feelings are present in ourselves and others. There are no good or bad emotions, but there are good and bad ways of expressing (or acting on) emotions. In building emotional awareness, the mentor is a key asset. Leaders organically exist within communities who possess cultural knowledge and experiences. Programs must work inside/alongside these communities so that youth have access to the voices and wisdom of their community. Mentors facilitate complex and nuanced discussions about community issues that cannot originate from the outside. The more intentional we are about recruiting and training mentors, the more likely it is that these conversations will take place


  • Corps and Community Empowerment
    Moving Forward Initiative

    How do we build power and create positive change? What is our role as a Corps operating within a Community? To meet our goal of empowering our youth, who in turn empower their communities, the Community and the Corps must engage one another. Community Resilience Building is a “community-driven” process that addresses priority actions to improve the resilience of communities (including our Corpsmembers) so they can withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity. How can we effectively work with our community partners in identifying needs and affecting change to ensure the holistic health of individuals and their communities?


  • Roundtable: Exploring Rural Opportunity and Prosperity through Corps 
    Much of the focus around Opportunity Youth and economic development has been on large cities and metropolitan areas. As the country slowly climbs out of the Great Recession, fault lines that have long been growing are becoming clearer in rural areas around the lack of youth engagement, increasing drug-abuse and disaffection, and a lack of economic opportunity and growth. Efforts are underway on the federal, state, and Corps-level to better understand these challenges, and develop new opportunities to engage and grow these communities. We’ll have an open dialogue around youth, economic development, and project challenges in rural areas, and explore promising trends and practices. 


  • Improving Efficiency by Optimizing Data Accessibility and Management
    Disconnected data systems or processes inhibit efficient program management, planning and reporting. These islands of information pose a challenge when scaling up programming or working on continuity planning. This workshop will explore how different corps have been using integrated data systems to help them accomplish a variety of tasks, ranging from project management, to member tracking, to donor/volunteer engagement, to reporting. Organizations will showcase some of the favorite functionality built into their systems, followed by time for questions.


  • Boots on the Ground: Creating Valuable Opportunities for Youth and Veteran Engagement in the USDA Forest Service
    The USDA Forest Service recognizes the valuable contributions that youth and veterans make to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of our Nation’s forests and grasslands as the next generation of conservation stewards. In this workshop, Forest Service staff will outline priorities for creating valuable opportunities to increase “boots on the ground” through shared stewardship. The discussion will include an overview of: past performance and outcomes over FY2014-2017 through the 21CSC initiative; best practices and strategies for partnerships to get essential work done; and career pathway benefits for participants to launch Federal careers. Q&A to follow.


  • Translating the Corps Experience into Career and Educational Success
    More than just a term of service, Corps can be a pipeline to higher education and employment. Some Corps have found success in having portions of their curriculum accredited for college credit. Others have explored prior learning credit for the total Corps experience, and some are pioneering digital badges that highlight competencies gained through a term of service and hands-on project work that could be recognized by employers and educational institutions. This workshop will explore the different models of translating the Corps experience into secondary and post-secondary credit, and the potential for pursuing these opportunities individually or developing a nationallyrecognized model.


  • NPS and Corps’ Evolving Partnership: Leveraging Communication to Improve Projects, Manage Risk, and Build Inclusive Workplaces
    The National Park Service (NPS) model for engaging youth on federal lands has evolved drastically since the Youth Conservation Corps Act of 1970. Participants in this dialogue will explore where we’ve been, successes we’ve had through increased communication with Corps partners, and how we can leverage those improvements to move forward. After a brief introduction, we’ll separate into small café-style groups to discuss safety and risk management, proactive approaches to inclusivity, and how we can further collaborate to build public-private partnerships that engage youth and accomplish critical work on federal lands. 


  • Meeting Community Needs through Urban Agriculture
    Moving Forward Initiative

    In this workshop, we will examine best practices from Corps and their community partners that go beyond just having an “urban farm.” These Corps use green spaces to teach young adults leadership skills, environmental literacy, community empowerment, micro-enterprise and entrepreneurship, and healthy food alternatives. Through these programs, young adults learn how to play a greater role within their communities and gain knowledge about making healthy food choices.

  • Grey to Green: Opportunities for Careers in Green Infrastructure
    Green Infrastructure has been around for a long time, although not in a recognized or professionalized manner. Corps have been on the cutting edge of developing this industry and projects, and now more identified workforce pipelines are beginning to emerge around certification and the expansion of the technical nature of the industry. In this workshop, we’ll explore a developing industry-recognized certification program with the Water Environment Federation, and a new hands-on training program from the Center for Watershed Protection. We will also examine a new report on workforce trends and opportunities in the Green Infrastructure and water industry.


  • Conserving Lands, Transforming Lives: Engaging Youth with Disabilities in Natural Resource Programming
    So you want to create the next generation of Conservation Stewards while ensuring you’re meeting the needs of today’s youth? This workshop will examine the success of a pilot initiative where the Student Conservation Association (SCA) partnered with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Community Integrated Services (CIS), the Philadelphia School District, and land management agencies to provide summer employment opportunities for youth with Autism in Philadelphia. Partners will share their thoughts on the collective impact of these organizations in providing meaningful experiences for youth with disabilities, including autism. This workshop will also provide tips for building staff training, on the ground support, and project selection.

  • Story Mapping 101: Visualizing Where Corps Work
    Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are systems designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data. A Story Map allows users to capture the power of maps and geography to tell their story. This workshop will consider how Corps are using mapping technology to complete project work using GIS technology, improve data integrity and accuracy, and create an illustration of their project work for partners and stakeholders.


  • Best Practices for Engaging Underrepresented Populations and Persons of Color
    Moving Forward Initiative

    Join a panel of Corps leaders who engage predominately young men of color as they discuss the essential elements and implementation strategies that foster an atmosphere of inclusivity and promote racial equity in their Corps. Following the panel, attendees will break into small group discussions facilitated by panelists to explore the essential elements of staff training, Corpsmember experience, and partnership development that Corps can utilize to promote and achieve greater equity within their programs.


  • Gulf Coast Alliance Meeting
  • NCCC and TCN Annual Win-Win Meeting
    Join staff from AmeriCorps NCCC as we discuss ways to celebrate and strengthen the partnership between NCCC and Corps


Sunday Afternoon:

Regional NPS Meetings

  • Northeast/National Capital
  • Southeast
  • Intermountain Region
  • Pacific West

Monday Evening:

  • An Evening at Ben’s Chili Bowl Hosted by the Moving Forward Initiative
    Join us for an evening at Ben’s Chili Bowl (a DC Institution, established in 1958), where we will participate in a discussion on African American history with Dr. Bernard Demczuk, African American studies expert and former Vice President for DC government relations at George Washington University, as well as a discussion with Hari Jones, a historian and former Assistant Director and Curator of the Washington, D.C.-based African American Civil War Memorial Freedom Foundation and Museum.