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. Learn more about The Corps Network 2022 National Conference, taking place virtually April 4 – 6.
“I think we should encourage kids to take care of nature and their environment. It’s an issue that should be addressed by my generation…I want to make sure we preserve our national forests and parks for future generations.”
Martha Alva Velasquez joined Civicorps in 2018 with the hope of earning her high school diploma. Now, four years later, Martha has gone above and beyond, exceeding her own expectations. Martha began at Civicorps serving on various resource management projects with CalTrans and Alameda County Flood Control (ACFC). Early in Martha’s time with the Corps, a guest presentation from a park ranger inspired her to work towards becoming a park ranger herself.
During her time at the Corps, Martha completed Civicorps’ competitive Conservation Crew Leader Academy and has achieved several certifications. Martha also earned her diploma, graduating in 2020, during the pandemic. She enrolled in her first college course in Park Management at West Valley College in Spring 2021. She plans to enroll at Merritt College to study environmental science. She is currently preparing to apply for a job at East Bay Regional Park District as a Park Ranger.
Throughout her time with Civicorps, Martha has been her supervisor’s lead person on many projects for various government entities, not just because of her skill and understanding with tools, but because of her personality: she helps promotes a positive crew dynamic. As a supervisor said, “She has a warm interpersonal style and consistency that make her a steward of harmony on her crew.”
Martha loves to help Corpsmembers learn new skills, including how to safely operate chainsaws, brush cutters and other field equipment. She is known for her, “strength, stamina and attention to detail.”
Martha has progressed a long way in just a matter of years: originally from Guatemala, she came to the U.S. at age 16 and initially struggled in school due to the language barrier and needing to work to help support her family. Martha leveraged every opportunity Civicorps provided and is now well on her way to achieving her dream of working in parks. She says that Civicorps has helped her to learn many technical and personal skills and encouraged her to be more comfortable speaking English and taking on leadership roles.
Martha believes that the U.S. needs more education and awareness around how to recycle and compost. She believes that children should be taught the importance and benefits of nature and how to take care of it. The harm of deforestation, planting and cultivating trees, and keeping a balance between native and invasive plant species should all be taught and emphasized in the education of outdoor stewards.