The Corps Network Announces Winners of the 2020 Corpsmember of the Year and Project of the Year Awards

Awardees to be recognized in Washington, DC at Thrive: The Power of Community, The Corps Network 2020 National Conference, February 9-12.

WASHINGTON, DC [December 18, 2019]
The Corps Network, the national association of Service and Conservation Corps, today announced the winners of the 2020 Corpsmember of the Year and Project of the Year Awards. Honorees will be recognized at The Corps Network’s 35th annual conference, Thrive: The Power of Community, taking place February 9-12 in Washington, DC.

The Corpsmember of the Year and Project of the Year awards represent two of 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 more than 130 Service and Conservation Corps across the country. Recipients are chosen through competitive nomination and review processes.

The member organizations of The Corps Network annually engage more than 25,000 young people in service across the country. Since 2005, The Corps Network has presented the Corpsmember of the Year Award to select young people who, through their service in a Corps, have demonstrated personal growth, outstanding leadership skills, and sincere commitment to their community. Winners of the Corpsmember of the Year Award were nominated by their Corps and selected by staff at The Corps Network. The 2020 Corpsmember of the Year Award is generously supported by Delaware North.

The Project of the Year Award is presented on an annual basis to Corps that have undertaken especially influential or innovative endeavors. Projects of the Year are noteworthy for their ability to provide both a positive experience for Corpsmembers and meaningful improvements to the community. Winners of this award are nominated by Corps and selected by staff at The Corps Network.

“Service and Conservation Corps across the United States strengthen the fabric of our communities by uniting diverse young people in meaningful service projects,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network. “With our annual awards, we acknowledge Corps and young people that have gone above and beyond to serve people, serve the environment, and build the bonds that tie us together. I am inspired by the important work our 2020 awardees have accomplished to date and look forward to seeing how they will continue to innovate and help our country thrive.”

The Corps Network’s national conference is an annual gathering of national, state, and local leaders in the fields of workforce development, community service, and conservation. The 2020 conference – Thrive: The Power of Community – will examine the power our communities possess; the global and local threats our communities face; and ways to engage young adults authentically to sustain community health. Early registration for the event is open through January 10, 2020.


The winners of the 2020 Corpsmember of the Year award – supported by Delaware North – are as follows:

Luis Cabrales

Student Conservation Association (IL)
A resident of Chicago, Luis Cabrales has risen through the ranks in the Student Conservation Association, proving himself to be a great leader within the Corps, as well as within Chicago’s broader conservation community. In addition to serving with SCA, Luis is a full-time student and partners with other local organizations to coordinate outdoor activities, volunteer workdays, and youth group meetings. He is also working to start a nonprofit to empower local young people to be leaders and change-makers in Southeast Chicago. Luis is known for his ability to motivate others and for his passion for nature.
Read more about Luis


Rosalinda “Rosy” Chavez

Montana Conservation Corps (MT)
Through her resilient and positive attitude, Rosalinda “Rosy” Chavez has achieved a great deal with Montana Conservation Corps’ Piikani Lands Crew, a program for youth from the Blackfeet Nation. Rosy’s service followed a bad car accident that left her in the hospital for several months; doctors were concerned she would never walk again. Overcoming her injury, Rosy joined her crewmates in helping construct trail and improve habitats. Her optimism, sense of humor, and perseverance motivated everyone around her. Rosy currently attends school with hopes of becoming a trauma therapist.
Read more about Rosy


Alexandria “Alexa” Hansen

American YouthWorks (TX)
AmeriCorps Member
With her discipline and dedication to service, Alexa established herself as a valuable AmeriCorps member of the Casa Verde Builders program at American YouthWorks (AYW). Alexa always dreamed of serving her country. However, diagnosed as Deaf at the age of six, she is ineligible to follow in her family’s footsteps and join the military. Instead, Alexa found purpose in AmeriCorps. Alexa, the only Deaf Corpsmember at AYW, earned the role of Crew Leader within the first two months of her term. This also made her the only female Crew Leader in the Casa Verde Builders program. In addition to her service responsibilities, Alexa started teaching ASL at the Corps. Wanting to continue giving back, Alexa hopes to one day become a nurse or paramedic and also work for FEMA.
Read more about Alexa


Bex Love

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VT)
AmeriCorps Alum
From traveling across the country and volunteering in different communities, a desire to serve brought Bex Love to Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC). With no previous experience in conservation work or camping, it was Bex’s enthusiastic spirit that made them a standout with the VYCC. Bex served on a 900-hour AmeriCorps Spike Crew. The crew worked together to complete high priority conservation projects, including removing invasive species and building trails. In spite of being diagnosed with Lyme disease during their service, Bex stayed positive. Their demeanor, humor and positive personality are some of the many reasons why VYCC can’t wait to welcome Bex back as an AmeriCorps member or Crew Leader.
Read more about Bex


Ryan Shelton

Conservation Corps of Long Beach (CA)
AmeriCorps Alum
Ryan joined the Corps looking for a fresh start. Soon after enrolling at Conservation Corps of Long Beach (CCLB), Ryan stood out as a leader among his peers. His hard work and can-do attitude inspired his crewmates to do their best. As a “Red Hat,” a Corpsmember who has demonstrated they can lead a group of peers on a project, Ryan volunteered to participate in a solar installation program made possible through a partnership between CCLB and Grid Alternatives. Ryan currently works for Xero Solar, a Tesla Certified Partner installer. He continues to be a spokesperson for the Corps and enjoys helping other young people find their passions.
Read more about Ryan


Harley Tijerina

California Conservation Corps (CA)
AmeriCorps Member
Harley Tijerina has a passion for volunteering and helping others. She came to California Conservation Corps (CCC) looking for a much-needed break from school. Harley was accepted into the CCC Yosemite Tent Camp program, dedicated to repairing damage done by Rim Fire in 2013. After completing this project, Harley was transferred to the Siskiyou Center and promoted to a Crew Leader position. Here, she was instrumental in helping motivate her crew during a time of staff transitions. She even helped restart the Center’s Corpsmember Advisory Board. Since joining the CCC, Harley has given over 75 hours of her own time volunteering with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. She hopes to pursue a career in natural resource management.
Read more about Harley


The winners of the 2020 Project of the Year award are as follows:


“Plan Bee” – The Pollinator Project

New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg (NJ)
Wanting to introduce young people to all stages of the food production cycle, New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg began offering training in the ancient practice of apiculture, also known as beekeeping. The program teaches environmental sustainability, helps Corpsmembers overcome fear of nature, and gives them a sense of responsibility and confidence. In 2019, Corpsmembers harvested over 40 pounds of honey, leaving plenty behind for the bees to winter-over. The program has had a far-reaching impact on the broader community.
Read more


Rainbow Conservation Crew

Northwest Youth Corps (OR/WA)
The Northwest Youth Corps Rainbow Conservation Crew provides a space for LGBTQ youth to find community. With support from the National Park Foundation and project partners, the Corps fielded two crews in the summer of 2019, serving a total of 20 young people. In addition to completing important projects at several national park sites, Corpsmembers participated in 450 hours of education. Single-identity programs like the Rainbow Crew help participants feel freer to share stories, discuss common challenges, and enjoy the company of others with whom they identify and can be inspired by.
Read more


Los Naturalistas

Urban Conservation Corps of the Inland Empire (CA)
In the past, Spanish-speaking families were unable to fully enjoy the national forests and monuments of Southern California due to the fact that educational and interpretive services were only provided in English. Spurred by the passion of their Corpsmembers, Urban Conservation Corps of the Inland Empire (UCC) decided to confront this language barrier issue. With support from the National Forest Foundation, UCC launched Los Naturalistas, a bi-lingual Spanish naturalist training and interpretative program. Under the guidance of two instructors, 12 Corpsmembers met every Saturday for over four months to learn how to lead stewardship activities and tours in both English and Spanish.
Read more


Adult Community Experience (ACE) Corps

YouthWork Conservation Corps (MI)
The YouthWork Adult Community Experience Corps (ACE Corps) offers an opportunity for young adults with mild cognitive impairments, autism, and/or other developmental disabilities to have an AmeriCorps experience experience. Made possible with extensive local support and a partnership with the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, the ACE Corps program engages participants in valuable community service projects, earning certifications, and learning skills in independent living, public speaking, and more. This program provides a model for how other AmeriCorps programs can engage autistic youth in meaningful service-learning experiences.
Read more



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

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