The Corps Network Announces Winners of the 2018 Corpsmember of the Year, Project of the Year and Legacy Achievement Awards

WASHINGTON, DC [December 14, 2017] – The Corps Network, the national association of Service and Conservation Corps, today announced the winners of the 2018 Corpsmember of the Year, Project of the Year and Legacy Achievement Awards. Honorees will be recognized at The Trail Ahead – The Corps Network’s 2018 National Conference – taking place February 11 – 14 in Washington, DC.

These three awards represent the highest honors The Corps Network grants and are a significant achievement within the national Corps movement. The awards are presented on an annual basis to select individuals and organizations from The Corps Network’s membership of over 130 Service and Conservation Corps across the country. Recipients are chosen through competitive nomination and peer-review processes.

Every year, The Corps Network presents the Corpsmember of the Year Award to select young adults and veterans who, through their service in Corps, have demonstrated personal growth, outstanding leadership skills, and sincere commitment to community and country. All winners of the Corpsmember of the Year Award are nominated by their Corps and selected by a panel of staff from The Corps Network and its member Corps. The 2018 Corpsmember of the Year Award is generously supported by Delaware North.

Four Project of the Year Awards are presented on an annual basis to Corps that have undertaken especially influential or innovative endeavors within the past year. Projects of the Year are noteworthy for their ability to provide both a positive experience for Corpsmembers and meaningful improvements to the community. Staff from The Corps Network as well as outside reviewers from member Corps select the winners of this award.

The Legacy Achievement Award is presented annually to at least one individual who has twenty or more years of experience with Corps. The Legacy awardee is someone who has contributed to the Corps movement in a significant way and served in a senior leadership position at a Corps or multiple Corps. Influential leaders in the Corps movement and senior staff from The Corps Network’s membership review the Legacy Achievement Award nominations and select the winners.

“Every day, The Corps Network’s member Service and Conservation Corps – and the thousands of young adults and veterans who serve in these programs – make significant contributions to America’s communities and public lands,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network. “With these three awards, we have the opportunity to recognize innovation, creativity and leadership in the Corps movement. Our 2018 honorees are shining examples of the talent and vast capabilities of Corps. I am humbled and honored to lead an organization that represents such inspiring people and programs.”

The winners of the 2018 Corpsmember of the Year award – supported by Delaware North – are as follows:

Kiara Alexis – Civicorps (Oakland, CA)
AmeriCorps Alum

Kiara Alexis has made tremendous strides at Civicorps. She came to the program with her high school diploma, but was in search of financially secure employment. Upon entering the Corps, Kiara joined the Recycling Team, a position she held for two and a half years before taking a leave of absence for parenting responsibilities. In a male-dominated industry, Kiara demonstrates to women and girls that no job or career is gender-specific. Kiara recently entered the Teamsters Apprenticeship Program through the Corps’ partnership with Waste Management. Once the program is complete, Kiara will have a union position starting at $70,000! Read more.

Earl Bowman* – Delaware State Parks Veterans Conservation Corps (DE)
AmeriCorps Alum

Earl has always had a heart for serving his community. He has been an active member of the local volunteer fire company since the age of 13 and served in the Delaware Air National Guard. Looking to continue his service and find a meaningful career, he became an AmeriCorps member with the Delaware State Parks Veterans Conservation Corps. Earl quickly acclimated to the program, becoming his team’s chainsaw expert. He was always willing to help his peers with their skills, always patiently explaining and helping them with technique. Earl has grown both personally and professionally, eventually being recognized as Member of the Year. Earl so impressed program management, he is now employed with Delaware State Parks on the Trail Crew. Read more.
*Earl Bowman is being recognized as the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) Corpsmember of the Year. The 21CSC is a national initiative to increase the number of young adults and recent veterans serving on public lands. The 21CSC Corpsmember of the Year is a young adult who has served in a member Corps of the 21CSC and is a champion of the initiative’s vision of increasing the engagement of young adults in conservation, preservation, and outdoor recreation. 

Esperanzita Castillo – Greater Miami Service Corps (FL)
AmeriCorps Alum
At Greater Miami Service Corps, Esperanzita found her voice and confidence. She publicly advocates for young people in her community, regularly attending the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners meetings to educate leaders on the need for opportunities for young adults. She understands the importance of giving back and has far exceeded her volunteer requirements. On top of all her other responsibilities, she works 32 hours a week as a security guard to support her family. Though she arrived at the Corps having dropped out of school in the sixth grade, Esperanzita recently received her high school diploma with a specialty in Veterinary Assistance. At GMSC Esperanzita is a peer leader/Team Captain. Read more.

Holden Foley – Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast (Apalachicola, FL)
AmeriCorps Alum
During his time at CCFC, Holden has led over 50 conservation and construction projects. In CCFC’s first cohort, his knowledge of construction enabled the Corps to engage in projects with the City of Apalachicola’s Affordable Housing Program. Holden’s leadership, desire to learn, and work ethic have proven to be pivotal to CCFC. In two short years, Holden has earned numerous certifications and been promoted to his current staff position as Field Manager. He continues to maintain and build upon his conservation trainings with hopes to build additional affordable housing in his community. Holden volunteers with the local Emergency Operations Center as the leader for their Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and will soon be certified as a FEMA CERT Program Trainer and a licensed building contractor. Read more.

Senga Lukingama – Urban Corps of San Diego County (CA)
Separated from his family due to war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senga found himself alone in the world as a refugee when he was just 14. In 2016, Senga moved to the U.S. by himself in search of a new life. Joining UCSD, Senga rose in the ranks from Corpsmember to Crew Leader and earned his driver’s license. He will complete his high school diploma in December 2017. Senga is an extraordinary student and leader. He works diligently to complete all his tasks and sets high expectations for himself. Senga is an active member of the Corpsmember Advisory Board, where he advocates for fellow members’ needs. He is enrolled in college and will soon start classes toward a degree in political science. He hopes to someday become a diplomat and help bring peace to his home country. Read more.

Lance Tubinaghtewa – Arizona Conservation Corps (AZ)
AmeriCorps Alum
At AZCC, Lance not only found his passion and connected with his culture, but excelled immensely. During his two terms with AZCC’s local program, Lance participated in trail and construction crews, working his way up to Assistant Crew Leader. His role was significant in that he helped pilot Tribal programming in the Tonto National Forest (Phoenix). His wide range of skills and knowledge are essential to his current role interacting with park visitors as an intern at Grand Canyon National Park. With his approachable manner and easy sense of humor, he sheds light on traditional concepts and practices of his Hopi culture. Through his service with the Ancestral Lands program, Lance now has a new-found appreciation and connection to his ancestors, and a deeper sense of self-worth. Read more.

The winners of the 2018 Project of the Year Award are as follows:

California Conservation Corps – Save the Sierras, Tree Mortality Program*
Supported by AmeriCorps
Due to drought and bark beetle infestations, California is currently experiencing an unprecedented environmental disaster in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Save the Sierras project was established by the
California Conservation Corps (CCC) to prevent further environmental devastation and assist underserved communities affected by the crisis. By repairing and restoring forests and natural resources, this project has made a significant impact in stopping the spread of tree mortality and reducing the risk of wildfires. By the end of 2017, CCC members will have cut down over 15,000 dead and dying trees. They have improved firebreaks, cleared trees away from structures, and increased the defensible space around countless byways. Additionally, 10 campgrounds have been restored and are able to be enjoyed by the public. Corpsmembers have earned valuable forestry skills in the process. Read more.
*The California Conservation Corps Save the Sierras initiative is being recognized as the first ever 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) Project of the Year. The 21CSC is a national initiative to increase the number of young adults and recent veterans serving on public lands. The 21CSC Project of the Year represents the initiative’s vision to improve and maintain public lands and waters through public-private partnerships and the engagement of young adults in meaningful resource management projects. 


Los Angeles Conservation Corps – Wiseburn Walking Path
The Wiseburn Walking Path was designed to confront larger societal concerns around the lack of public outdoor exercise and fitness options within Los Angeles County. The 0.7-mile-long decomposed granite walking path is ADA-Accessible and seeks to improve community health for users of all ages. Corpsmembers transformed 3,200 linear feet of essentially unused slope from a regular illegal dumping ground into a valuable community resource. As general contractor, LACC was responsible for all aspects of the project, from pouring concrete for sidewalks and curbs, to planting trees, installing landscaping, and installing park amenities, such as play equipment and signage. Read more.

Southwest Conservation Corps & Montana Conservation Corps – Wyoming Women’s Fire Corps
Supported by AmeriCorps
The Wyoming Women’s Fire Corps (WWFC) is a pilot program that ran August through early November of 2017. Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC), Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) joined together in this collaborative effort. Sixteen women completed training and were certified in S130/190 wildland fire fighting and S212 saw operation. The WWFC addresses gender disparities in wildland firefighting, as well as resource management concerns. The program has been deemed a great success and will be repeated in 2019. Alumni speak of the empowering nature of the initiative and nearly all are pursuing jobs in wildland firefighting. Read more.

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps – Health Care Share
Supported by AmeriCorps
The Health Care Share program of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) recruits young adults to serve outdoors on tangible projects that benefit Vermont communities. VYCC Farm Crews grow fresh, local, organic food from March through November. Food is packaged in weekly and/or monthly shares and delivered to hospitals, medical centers, and community clinics. Medical centers, in turn, identify patients and employees who have distinct needs (food insecurity, diabetes, heart conditions, etc.) that would benefit from the program. Health Care Share recipients and Corpsmebers receive shares for six months of the year. Corpsmembers also undergo training to learn about nutrition and budgeting. In addition to addressing food security, health concerns, and local job training needs, Health Care Share has expanded VYCC’s visibility and capacity to engage more young adults. The winner of the 2018 Legacy Achievement Award is:

Reginald “Flip” Hagood – Student Conservation Association (SCA)
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Reginald “Flip” Hagood pursued a career with the National Park Service. He spent 25 years with NPS, serving in various roles and eventually retiring in 1994 as Chief of the Employee Development Division. He then had a 20-year career with the Student Conservation Association (SCA), leaving in 2015 as Senior Vice President. During his time with SCA, Hagood supported thousands of high school students, college interns and staff seeking to serve the environment. He was essential in the creation of SCA’s Washington DC Urban Community program, engaging local youth in conservation programs. Since its inception, the program has produced 15 urban centers and engages over 1,000 youth annually. Hagood’s influence and impact has extended far beyond SCA into all aspects of the environmental movement, including nonprofits, government service and even the corporate world. He is a respected advisor in the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within the conservation workforce. Read more.

The winners of all three awards will be honored at a ceremony on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC as part of The Corps Network’s 2018 national conference, The Trail Ahead.  For more information about the conference, please visit

About The Corps Network

The Corps Network, the national association of Service and Conservation Corps, provides leadership and support to over 130 Corps across the United States. Through advocacy, and providing Corps access to funding opportunities and expert guidance, The Corps Network annually enables more than 25,000 Corpsmembers to strengthen communities, improve the environment and transform their lives through service. To learn more about The Corps Network, please visit

Media Contact:

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The Corps Network
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