(above photo of Arizona Conservation Corps taken by Bryan Struble, National Park Service)

The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps featured on CBS Sunday Morning, July 3, 2016

Service and Conservation Corps play an important role in maintaining and improving America’s public lands

Table of Contents

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps – Colorado

Corps and the National Park Service

The National Park Service (NPS) manages a lot of property and simply doesn’t have the capacity to keep up with all the maintenance and improvement needs. This is where Service and Conservation Corps come in.

Helping NPS complete 2x the amount of work for the same price

NPS works with outside contractors to complete necessary maintenance and improvement projects. Many NPS sites throughout the country enlist the help of non-profit and state-run Service and Conservation Corps.

  • A cost analysis conducted by NPS found that they could save 50% or more on project costs by working with Corps as opposed to completing the work internally or using other outside contractors
  • A survey of Corps project partners showed that 99.6% of project partners from federal agencies (like NPS) would work with Corps again. Over 90% rated the work Corps completed as “good or outstanding.”

Creating the next – more diverse – generation of public lands stewards

Thousands of federal employees, including many that work for the National Park Service and other land/water management agencies, are nearing retirement. Corps train young people with the skills and knowledge to one day be our park leaders and stewards. 

Utah Conservation Corps

What is a Corps?

Corps are programs that give teens and young adults the opportunity to learn and gain work experience by participating in service projects in communities and on public lands.

Service and Conservation Corps are youth development programs that enroll people ages 16 – 25 (or up to age 35 for recent veterans). Corps engage their participants – known as “Corpsmembers” – in intensive service projects that improve communities and the environment. Sometimes these projects involve the maintenance and improvement of National Park Service sites.

Examples of projects Corps complete at parks

building/maintaining trails invasive species removal
shelter/campground construction & maintenance historic building preservation
fence construction erosion control/retaining walls
prescribed burns wildlands firefighting
habitat restoration fish restocking
building staircases and bridges species monitoring










Through their service, the participants – or “Corpsmembers” – gain workplace experience and, by serving on a crew alongside other Corpsmembers, develop important skills in leadership, communication and teamwork. Corpsmembers also receive a living allowance and often earn an education award (scholarship) at the completion of their service.

A comprehensive program

Corps offer Corpsmembers many wraparound services, like access to counseling, childcare or transportation assistance. Some Corps also operate charter schools or educational programs that allow Corpsmembers to work on their GED or high school diploma while enrolled in the program. All Corps also offer their participants the opportunity to gain professional certifications and credentials.

Examples of certifications Corpsmembers can earn

chainsaw/sawyer certification wilderness first aid
commercial driver’s license wilderness first responder
pesticide/herbicide application Red Card (wilderness firefighter)
OSHA training lead/asbestos abatement
urban forestry certification HAZMAT certification

Members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

History of Corps

Today’s Service and Conservation Corps are based off the model of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Created by President FDR during the Great Depression, the CCC was a federal work program that employed over 3 million young men during its operation between 1933 and 1942. The ‘CCC boys’ were each paid a precious $30 a month to participate in projects that drastically improved America’s public lands infrastructure; they planted over 3 billion trees, built over 800 parks and constructed nearly 100,000 miles of rural roads.

The CCC was disbanded at the onset of WWII, but the idea of putting young people to work on America’s public lands lived on. Local non-profit and state-run Corps now operate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, engaging youth in service to communities and public lands.


About The Corps Network

The Corps Network is the National Association of Service & Conservation Corps

The Corps Network provides leadership and support to over 130 of America’s Service and Conservation Corps. Through advocacy and offering Corps access to funding opportunities and expert guidance, The Corps Network annually enables over 24,000 Corpsmembers, ages 16-25, to strengthen communities, improve the environment and transform their lives through service. 

About the 21CSC

The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) is an initiative to expand Conservation Corps to engage 100,000 youth and veterans in public lands service every year. Currently, Corps annually enroll about 25,000 young people. Along with Conservation Legacy, The Corps Network is a co-chair of the Partnership for the 21CSC: a body comprised of representatives of federal, state, local and non-profit leaders and other stakeholders in the 21CSC. 
The 21CSC Act is currently moving through Congress. This bill would make it easier for federal agencies to partner with Corps to complete important work. It would also strengthen the pathway into careers with federal land/water management agencies for Corps alumni, and expand the maximum age for Corps participants, thus allowing Corps to enroll more returning veterans. 

How can I get involved with Corps?

Find a Corps near you

Visit our Corps by State page to find a Corps near you. 

Become a Corpsmember or work at a Corps

Visit our Jobs at Corps page to find open positons at Corps

Learn more about the 21CSC

Please visit 21CSC.org 

Give to The Corps Network

Support Service and Conservation Corps today by giving to The Corps Network

Follow us on social

Find The Corps Network on Facebook and Twitter @TheCorpsNetwork