2021 Corpsmember of the Year: Trevor Taylor, Southwest Conservation Corps
Speech by Trevor, presented at The Corps Network 2021 virtual Conference,
March 15, 2021.
Every year, at The Corps Network’s National Conference, we honor a select group of exceptional Corpsmembers from our member Service and Conservation Corps. These young adults have exceeded the expectations of their Corps by exhibiting outstanding leadership skills and demonstrating an earnest commitment to service and civic engagement. The Corpsmembers of the Year are role models; their personal stories and accomplishments are an inspiration to Corpsmembers nationwide.
“To me, the value of my work, and indeed a major priority of my life, is service. More than just wanting to do good or give back, I felt I had a duty to do so. A duty to not be another burden on the earth. A duty to stand by it, and be of service to it, if I could. And so, I became a Corpsmember.”
Trevor Taylor is a leader, an advocate, and an innovator. During his time with Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC), he has made an impact on the organization, his peers, and the broader public lands community in Southern Colorado.
Trevor was first introduced to Corps when he was in high school: he spent his summers doing invasive species removal and maintenance projects in Chicago with the Student Conservation Association and Friends of the Forest Preserves. After graduating college in 2019, he initially planned to attend graduate school, but decided instead to take a gap year and serve as an AmeriCorps member with SCC, a program of Conservation Legacy. This was a pivotal experience for him.
“Being a Corpsmember changed the direction of my life,” said Trevor. “My first term as a member solidified that I wanted to continue in conservation.”
Trevor returned in 2020 to serve as an AmeriCorps member in the SCC Los Valles Crew Leader Development Program. During a challenging year, he co-led one of the program’s most difficult projects: building a summit trail on Kit Carson Mountain at 14,000 feet in elevation. Throughout this physically demanding work, Trevor exhibited exceptional technical skills and led with grace. However, his achievements with SCC go well beyond his crew’s outcomes on this delicate project.
As a young Black man, Trevor has served as a powerful advocate for people of color in the Corps community. He has worked hard to ensure that he shares his knowledge with individuals beyond his immediate peers. During the 2020 season, he led a lecture for his crew, as well as for members of EarthCorps, about racial equity in the outdoor industry. Participants reported this was one of the best trainings of the season.
At the end of 2020, Trevor collaborated in a working group comprised of representatives from several Conservation Legacy programs to develop a restorative justice approach to disciplinary action. This approach promotes racial equity through community-based resolutions and focusing on repairing harm rather than punitive action. This culminated in Trevor co-facilitating a restorative justice training for Arizona Conservation Corps, a fellow program of Conservation Legacy.
Dedicated to promoting the representation of Black leadership in conservation, Trevor developed a personal story-sharing week on SCC’s social media platform. He has also used his time with the Corps to foster relationships with local and statewide organizations that promote racial equity in the conservation industry, establishing a broad network of likeminded advocates.
Trevor’s passion for advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion led him to develop a model for a “Leaders of Color” program. Through an application process, he was awarded a Conservation Legacy Innovation Fund award to fully realize the program, which he will lead at SCC in 2021. The Leaders of Color program is designed to offer an affinity space for BIPOC young adults to learn advanced technical skills, such as those Trevor himself has mastered, as a means to enter higher earning conservation industry jobs. This work is also supported by the Children and Nature Network Youth Equity Leadership Fund.
“My goal is to create further opportunities for people like myself to have the experiences I was fortunate enough to have,” said Trevor. “I have had wonderful experiences in the Corps, and now I get to step out of that and open up those experiences for other people. It goes back to the idea of service. I want to keep being of service to people of color and other underrepresented communities. Corps are just one way of doing that, but my experience in them has shaped my career and how I see myself as a member of community. I only want to be able to ensure that continues to be open for others.”
As of November 2020, Trevor has been working as an Innovation Fund temporary staff member with SCC Los Valles. He will lead the Leaders of Color 2021 crew starting in March 2021, running until October 2021.
Trevor’s “Big Idea” for the Corps Community:
“I believe what I am currently working on with Southwest Conservation Corps to create the Leaders of Color crew is a big idea. Traditionally, experiences in conservation were limited to a predominately middle-class group of people. Much of the outdoors was denied to people of color for want of access or equipment. The goal of this project is to break down those barriers. By helping to provide access we are opening opportunities for communities that may not have even realized that these opportunities existed in the first place. This has huge implications for the future of Corps and who participates in them.”