What is The Corps Network?

Our Impact FY19

2020 Workshops & Plenaries


Monday – February 10, 2020

Transforming a Movement: Supporting Equity Work in Environmental Organizations
8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Join us for a presentation by Dr. Marcelo Bonta, author of the recent report “Transforming a Movement: How Foundations Can Support Effective Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Capacity Building Efforts in Environmental Organizations”. Mr. Bonta will present key findings from his report and discuss the importance of using an equity lens in the pursuit of funding and the implementation of programming. Following his presentation, a panel of foundation and Corps leaders will discuss the impact of this report and its recommendations on the environmental sector. Topics will include the necessity and opportunities for accessing funding for DEI capacity building, the role that resistance plays in moving the DEI conversation forward, and the significance of a growth mindset in leading culture change.


The Washington Insider with Amy Walter
12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

In these politically partisan times, America’s Service and Conservation Corps are a rare example of bipartisanship. As evidenced by the inclusion of Corps in Democratic Campaign Platforms as well as the priority areas of Agencies within the current Administration, Corps continue to be seen as effective programs in meeting community needs. From smaller rural communities to larger urban communities, one thing that all American’s can agree on is that the youth of our country deserve access to the skills needed to become active members of their communities.  During this session, Amy Walter, National Editor with The Cook Political Report, will bring her over 20 years of experience in reporting on DC politics to a discussion of current political trends and opportunities in the realms of national service, workforce development and conservation.


The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps is an public-private partnership focused on growing the reach and impact of Service and Conservation Corps on public lands. Join us for this year’s meeting as we re-position the 21CSC in response to various national level discussions and public support for a new Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). We will strive to grow our audience and base of support beyond the federal level; identify state and local needs and opportunities; and hold a conversation to evaluate the public’s perception and interest in renewing the CCC.

Tuesday – February 11, 2020

Pursuing Community and Environmental Health through Authentic Community Engagement
9:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Strong communities are essential to our health as people and organizations. Across the country, Corps have contributed to community cohesion through their ability to foster unity among people through service, engage young adults in a participatory process to improve their own well-being, and restore green spaces and community spaces for the public to enjoy. This plenary will be a call to action for Corps to further strengthen their connection to and role within their communities to become a prominent driver of community and civic health. Panelists will provide insights on how they define authentic community engagement and the strategies they use engage their local community in directing, advising, and implementing Corps efforts that address economic, environmental and civic health.




Saturday – February 8, 2020

Corpsmember Liberation and Leadership
Offered at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
This workshop will give staff and Corpsmembers the opportunity to understand the role that internalized oppression plays in our Corpsmembers lives and how to empower these young leaders to undo disempowerment. Liberation and Leadership wants the trailblazers (our Corpsmembers) to be able to identify patterns of disempowerment and learn how to interrupt and replace them with new life-giving patterns. Session participants be challenged to see the idea of disempowerment differently – as the unconscious ways we are distracted from what we are truly capable of achieving when we wholeheartedly believe in ourselves. We will examine how we are socialized to see and think of power as something that exists outside of ourselves and understand how disempowerment has manifested itself as a set of accumulated counterproductive habits and tendencies. This workshop will be facilitated by Mahdi Davenport and Juanita C Brown – consultants for the Moving Forward Initiative.


Welcome to DC Happy Hour, Sponsored by Cigna
6:00 p.m.
Come join us for a pre-Conference happy hour hosted by our Gold-level sponsors, Cigna. Meet up with fellow conference attendees and TCN staff to reconnect and/or make some new friends! The event will take place at Penn Social, located at 801 E St NW, Washington, DC 20004. Food and drinks will be provided.


Sunday – February 9, 2020

Morning and early afternoon
More information on the Conference agenda


Celebrating 35 Years of The Corps Network, Evening Reception
6:00 p.m.


Monday – February 10, 2020

Film Screening – Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek
7:00 p.m.
This documentary film follows the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who returns to his native coastal Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Derrick is consumed by the effort to protect the community his great great grandfather settled as a former slave. On the day Turkey Creek is featured in USA Today for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explodes. As Rethinking Schools states, “this intimate film tells a gigantic story—about race, about power, about so-called development. But it is also a saga of community, resilience, resistance, and hope. It’s about everything that matters in our society.” Come join us for a screening of “Come Hell or High Water” followed by a Q&A with the film Director. The event will take place at E Street Cinema located at 555 11th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004. Please arrive at 6:30 p.m. as the film with begin promptly at 7:00 p.m.


Tuesday – February 11, 2020

Friends of National Service Awards Reception
5:30 p.m.
The Friends of National Service Awards is an opportunity for the national service community to recognize leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors who have contributed in building a culture of citizenship, service and responsibility within America. Honorees are nominated by members of Voices for National Service, and selected by the Voices Steering Committee. TCN Conference attendees receive free access to the event which includes a pre-event reception and dinner along with the awards ceremony. More information about previous Friends of National Service Awards events can be found at www.voicesforservice.org.




Community Focus

Disaster Prone Communities: How Do They Continue to Thrive?
This workshop will provide valuable lessons learned from communities who have experienced multiple disasters and but are continuing to focus on prosperity and growth. Focusing on community health and resilience, this workshop will reevaluate what disaster preparedness entails from a prospective of community engagement and social cohesion. Presenters will host a discussion about why an asset-based community is important and how relationships and connectivity can help a community thrive in times of disaster.


From Incarceration to Conservation: Creating Community Driven Opportunities
Beginning in 2014, La Plazita Institute (LPI) and the Ancestral Lands (AL) program came together to create a community guided program to serve some of Albuquerque’s most vulnerable young people: Native American and indigenous young people (including Chicanx, Latinx, Hispano) who are previously incarcerated or adjudicated, battling drug addiction, and gang-affiliated.  LPI and AL each had years of experience working in their respective fields, but it was the first foray for each into the other’s world.  We will discuss the challenges and the successes that we have experienced and share lessons learned and best practices for those wanting to engage these often-overlooked members of our communities and how we can create lasting positive change for these individuals and our communities as a whole.


Moving toward a Holistic Support System for LGBTQ+ Corpsmembers
The National Park Foundation partners with the National Park Service Youth Programs Division and Service Corps partners to create increased opportunities for underrepresented populations in Corps programs. Join us for a facilitated panel discussion with LGBTQ+ leaders to discuss the primary barriers to address and the program structures to utilize that best support LGBTQ+ Corpsmembers. The panel will feature three unique perspectives from Corpsmembers, Corps Staff, and Agency Staff. They will provide their voice to the question – how can we create a holistic support system for LGBTQ+ Corpsmembers?


Systems Change in Local Communities: Putting Corps in the Driver’s Seat
The philanthropic community often describes local communities as program rich and systems poor and consequently focuses their resources on initiatives that drive systems change. The collective impact model has been identified as a promising practice to create systems change to address big challenges. In communities where the collective impact model is being used, Corps are part of the network of organizations contributing to the services and resources needed to craft good solutions. But what happens when the backbone organization goes away – or worse – when Corps are not identified as valuable partners? This session turns the traditional collective impact model on its head and asks – What if our Corps drove the process? What would systems change in our community look like? Corps leaders will gain practical tools for positioning their organizations as key partners – if not principal partners – to design effective strategies to address issues like chronic unemployment, educational failure, and environmental sustainability.


Water Equity: A Conversation at the Intersection of Advocacy, Workforce Development, and Project Work
Affordable and clean water is a human right that goes unrealized in many communities. This workshop will focus on how Corps organizations can respond to this basic human need. The workshop will focus on three specific areas of interest to Corps organizations: workforce development opportunities that exist for Corpsmembers, how to obtain or increase water projects in your Corps organization, and how to become community advocates or agents of change in the water equity movement.



Corps Operations

Collective Recruitment Strategies: Partnership Models that Support Recruitment Goals
A strong economy coupled with a lack of awareness about Corps programming has led to a common recruitment challenge among many Corps. This workshop will look at harnessing partnerships on both a local and national level with the purpose of increasing your recruitment pipeline. The session will start by examining a successful local recruitment partnership – how it came to be and how it impacted the partnering entities. This will be followed by an open discussion on how the Corps community can push a collective recruitment agenda. The conservation will be structured around the tools, partnerships, and resources needed to expand young adults’ awareness of Corps and direct these interested individuals to application opportunities. The goal of the session is to leave with tangible next steps on how Corps and The Corps Network can pursue strategies that mobilize both the local and national community to engage in the Corpsmember experience.


Getting Proactive with Risk Management: Operational Best Practices for Mitigating and Responding to Mental Health Related Incident
All too often, Corps leaders and programs are caught off guard by mental health issues in the field, creating conflicts between organizational values, program goals, available resources, and staff / leader abilities. This workshop will explore common mental health issues from an operational (not therapeutic) perspective, including topics such as program design, medical & psychological screening/evaluation, staff training, incident response, and post-incident debriefing. We will use actual and hypothetical incidents to create educational scenarios and invite participants to share lessons learned from their own programs.


From Issue to Action: The Role of Corps in Policy and Advocacy
The decisions that are made in Washington, D.C. have a crucial impact on Corps programs and as such, Corps play a critical role in informing the process. To help facilitate greater Corps participation in advocacy efforts, The Corps Network’s Government Relations team recently developed the Advocacy Academy. The academy provides Corps with a launch point to understand the role of TCN’s GR operations and specifically where Corps are vital to the process. This workshop will provide an overview of the four modules that make up the academy and work through a few different case studies detailing the specific opportunities for Corps engagement and past examples of successful advocacy where Corps played a critical role.


What Are Corps Doing to Reduce Their Carbon Footprint in The Age of Climate Change?
This will be a discussion-based presentation that will focus on how Corps can measure and reduce their carbon footprint. We will talk about the importance of carbon measurement and reduction as well as the Utah Conservation Corps’ plan to its measure carbon footprint and its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. We will discuss strategies of how the Corps community can come together to address this challenge and provide leadership to other stewardship programs.



Funding and Partnership Development

Partnering with Higher Education to Expand Your Capacity Through Community Engagement
Southern Utah University’s Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative is not your typical youth Corps. Based out of a community-engaged University, the program hosts Youth Conservation Crews and over 200 internships in public lands throughout the Southwest.  This session will review the IIC’s community engagement learning model as a case study in ways to engage Higher Education to meet mission needs. Participants will be informed on ways to partner with universities and other higher education institutions to help recruit qualified and motivated crew members and leaders, help Corpsmembers get full credit for their Corps experience, and help Corps manages tap into universities for program assistance and insight.


Public Lands in the United States: A More Inclusive Perspective
America’s public lands provide a wealth of opportunities to provide impactful outdoor recreation, employment, education and service experiences. However, there remains a gap between people’s experiences on public lands and their understanding of how those lands came to be protected. Many people miss an opportunity to develop a deep connection to place, making them less likely to grow into advocates for the outdoor places that are a vital part of many of our programs. The Wilderness Society and the Avarna Group developed a multi-part curriculum that is ideal for participants in conservation service and education programs. This education session will provide an overview of the curriculum, its use and activities.


Workforce Partnership and Funding Opportunities: Thinking Outside the Box
Urban Corps of San Diego County has over 30 years of experience and hundreds of contracted partners in the Workforce Development space. Over the past few years, the Corps has been able to triple grant funded projects with the same sized development staff as before. This session will be a discussion for development, program or operations staff to think outside the box about the opportunities Corps can engage in when it comes to Workforce Development. Topics include working with the Corps Consultation process, leveraged funding, putting time into educating the community about Corps services and having a win-win relationship with new and existing partners. This working session will allow attendees to brainstorm, work together and come up with action steps for thinking outside the box at your Corps.



Project Work

Accessibility Project Planning for User-Friendly Trails and Greenways
Many trail and transportation surface projects rely on project partners and contractors who are skilled in the development and maintenance of user-friendly and ADA-compliant trails and walkways. This workshop will share project examples from several Corps who are performing innovative and advanced Corpsmember projects in the areas of trail and infrastructure accessibility from research and assessment to sustainable greenway retrofits. Learn more about federal accessibility priorities, grant programs, and Corpsmember training opportunities in trail and surface infrastructure, and hear what’s needed to make these projects successful.


Deliver Smarter, More Integrated Workforce Development Projects on Forest Service Lands
The Forest Service is interested in learning from our partners how we can collectively enhance outcomes for all workforce development programs that target youth, young adults, and emerging professionals. The Forest Service emphasis on Shared Stewardship provides an opportunity to consider new approaches to more efficiently complete work in support of priority metrics such as fuels reduction, restoration, trail maintenance, and access and improve PLC hiring outcomes.  As the Forest Service actively seeks to integrate agency workforce development authorities for better results, and work across boundaries and programs as well as with states, local government and the business sector, we want to have an interactive discussion with our 21CSC stakeholders about best practices, challenges and opportunities and to share strategies we are implementing to improve outcomes, accountability, tracking and reporting. Stakeholders who have worked on projects with the Forest Service and have experience engaging Job Corps students on projects are welcome.


National Park Service and Corps Partnerships
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. Join Youth Programs professionals from NPS’s regional and national offices as they discuss ways to strengthen Corps and NPS partnerships.



Workforce Development and Corpsmember Development

Building State Transportation Workforce Pathways and Partnerships
Corps have long provided training and professional development opportunities for young adults on trail and infrastructure projects while building strong working relationships with local, state, and federal partners. But what are the next steps for Corpsmembers once the project work is complete? This workshop will present on how Corps can build workforce pathways in partnership with a state transportation agency. Join us to learn more about the strategic planning and funding next steps needed to create a Corpsmember workforce pipeline. Corps, State, and Federal partners will share their perspectives and experiences with Corpsmember workforce models, best practices, and success stories from well-established state partnerships.


A Cycle of Injustice: How Mass Incarceration Affects Our Youth
As the momentum for criminal justice reform prevails, youth and families are still a missing part of the conversation. A report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, speaks to this in a powerful way by stating that “policy debates about incarceration rarely focus on the burden borne by children and families. Theirs are stories of things lost: connections, jobs, income, homes — and hope. And communities, in turn, suffer from losing so many parents, whose absence leaves the economic and social fabric of their neighborhoods in tatters.” These young people experience a significant amount of trauma and loss. While an increase in resources, support, and visibility for youth of incarcerated parents and/or families is slow in coming, there are several tools created to help raise awareness on how incarceration impacts youth. In this workshop we will examine the tools that can be implemented within your Corps to address this need.


Getting to the Heart of It with Proactive Counseling
Mentoring and counseling is a large part of what Corps staff do from helping members understand their first paycheck to developing individual development plans (IDPs) and navigating complex social service systems. Proactive (or Intrusive) Counseling applies the theory of proactive advising to assist youth development program staff in developing stronger and more informed relationships with Corpsmembers to design an individualized support network. Instead of relying on written information, proactive counseling tactics create space for Corpsmembers to tell the Corps how best to help them and assists Corps staff in identifying stressors early on. This session will train Corps staff on proactive counseling as a practice and provide useful strategies to refine their current mentoring and counseling activities.


Impact of One: Envisioning Your Future: Preparing Corpsmembers for Employment
The Conservation Corps industry is committed to developing a highly skilled and experienced workforce for conservation and restoration employment. However, employability goes beyond project-based skills.  21st century employment requires workplace skills such as active listening, critical thinking, professionalism, leadership, accountability and teamwork.  And a successful job search requires a robust resume, networking skills and effective interviewing skills.  Corps programs should adequately prepare and equip their members for 21st century employment upon program completion. This workshop will provide Corps staff with resources and tools to add a professional development component to their program to help increase placement outcomes for members exiting their term of service.


Incorporating the Social and Emotional Learning Framework into Corps Programming
As defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. This session will introduce the greater SEL framework, discuss how this framework already presents itself in your programming, and work through ways to emphasize and enhance your systemic approaches to SEL. The workshop is intended to be an interactive training so please come prepared to discuss your current framework for teaching social and emotional well-being and the primary challenges you’ve faced.


Responding to Corpsmember Needs: Mental Health Support in the Age of Anxiety
By design, the Corpsmember experience is an intense one. Corpsmembers leave home for immersive environments where they are asked to work hard, collaborate with people different than themselves, meet high expectations, and dig deep. Just as it’s empowering, it’s stressful. VYCC has seen a growing number of young adults struggle with anxiety, depression, feelings of being overwhelmed, panic attacks, and harder to diagnose behaviors. Furthermore, we’ve heard from Crew Leaders who are concerned that lack training to address mental health challenges that Crew Members face. In response, VYCC partnered with a local Mental Health Services organization to design and implement in-the-field supports for staff, field assistants, leaders, and members. Training, fostering affiliation while on our campus, and a systematic approach to incorporating wellness into administrative processes were all essential pieces. We’ll share background, the structure for our collaboration, costs, lessons learned, success stories, shortcomings, and next steps.