A Message from Our President & CEO: September 1, 2020
Corps in the Conversation
[Photo in banner: Maine Conservation Corps, Summer 2020]
I don’t know if you’re still counting, but it’s now been nearly 30 weeks since The Corps Network team started working remotely. As COVID-19 continues to affect our lives, it might seem hard to find things to celebrate, but I’m pleased to report a few pieces of good news for the Corps community.
For one, Service and Conservation Corps continue to be a popular topic on Capitol Hill: several bills have been proposed to revive the Civilian Conservation Corps of the New Deal Era. Most recently, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Corey Booker (D-NJ) combined two earlier bills and introduced The 21st Century Conservation Corps Act. This bill would help expand existing Corps through investments and encouraging resource managers to partner with Corps on projects to maintain our public lands and waters.
Relatedly, the president recently signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law. I was grateful to be invited to a reception at the Department of the Interior to recognize this historic achievement. This legislation will invest in addressing the nearly $20 billion maintenance backlog on our federal lands and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). This could mean many more projects for Corps, which translates into opportunities for more young people to serve and learn outdoors.
Funding the LWCF could generate opportunities to engage more Corpsmembers close-to-home at state and local parks. We gratefully appreciate the support for Corps among leaders at state and local resource management agencies.
I encourage you to read my recent essay on what the GAOA could mean for our young people. For a more comprehensive breakdown of legislative updates, see this helpful blog from The Corps Network’s Government Relations Team.
Moving Forward. Advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
In other good news, I am excited to share that The Corps Network recently received a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to continue to support our Moving Forward Initiative (MFI). Launched in 2017 with a grant from WKKF, Moving Forward is a multi-faceted effort to assist the Service and Conservation Corps community in addressing racism, advancing equity, and authentically supporting young people of color on the path to careers in conservation. Over three years, this new funding will enable The Corps Network to assist Corps in implementing racial equity plans, facilitating meaningful conversations around race, and providing young people of color with learning and workforce development opportunities to help them harness their potential on the path to conservation careers.
Another piece of good news is that The Corps Network’s Board of Directors has elected two new Vice-Chairs: Stephanie Davison and Carlos Monje. Both Stephanie and Carlos bring years of experience and wisdom to our Board and a passion for social justice and youth development. We are grateful to have not one Vice-Chair to provide expert guidance and inspiration, but two. Learn more here.
As the summer begins to wind down, Corps programs continue. It is good to see Corps recruiting Corpsmembers and planning projects for the fall. Hopefully we will soon see even more opportunities for young people to serve.
Mary Ellen Sprenkel
President & CEO
The Corps Network