As part of the observance of Veteran’s Day the USDA and Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced that they will be funding job and training opportunities this year for over 300 veterans and youths to go to work improving our nation’s natural and historic resources. This effort is a show of continuing support of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) and in concert with both the White House’s initiative for reconnecting Americans with the country’s vast and beautiful natural resources as well as, furthering crucial projects that will improve forest and watershed health and restoration and recreational opportunities. Per USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, “This landmark partnership with AmeriCorps to jointly support service opportunities for youth and veterans is an all-around win for our young people and our public lands.”
This progressive partnership provides youths with the leadership and experience of our nation’s treasured veterans, expanding economic opportunity and potential for both groups, while also moving restoration and conservation of our natural resources forward considerably. This project will create at least 300 positions for youths and veterans to serve through AmeriCorps and as a part of 21CSC to work on conservation and restoration projects in our National Forests and Grasslands throughout 10 states. Jointly funded by the aforementioned agencies, $3.7 million will go towards this program.
The USDA and CNCS have identified resources in need and high quality projects, allocating funding to local organizations who can assist in accomplishing key Forest Service goals such as; hazardous fuels management, watershed protection, trail maintenance, and recreation and facilities management. Identified projects and goals are diverse in nature and span the country occurring on public lands from the Gulf Coast to Hawaii, a few examples of priority projects include:
- Two crews from the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will be deployed in New Mexico National Forests, they will be tasked with trail improvements in Santa Fe, Carson and Cibola National Forests. They will also support Forest Service personnel with hazardous fuels management.
- Expanding upon an already successful program, VetWorks, which employs veterans on recreation and facilities management projects in Oregon and Missouri, will now have the funding to grow the program into the southern region. Veterans will be deployed to oversee additional volunteers and service providers on recreation and resource management projects in the Gulf Coast Plain Region.
- 80 young Hawaiians will be recruited for the summer of 2015, they will be engaged on conservation, improvement or restoration projects throughout the islands.
- 6 Southeast Youth Corps crews will be on the job in the forests of Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia performing general trail maintenance for 8 weeks in partnership with the Conservation Legacy.
- Low-income and disadvantaged youths in Oregon, Mississippi and Texas will be employed by the Corps Network’s Opportunity Youth Service Initiative, working to improve hundreds of miles of trails and thousands of acres of public lands.
- 19 new crew members will be recruited to work the Utah Conservation Corps to restore trails and public lands in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache and other National Forests.
These impressive, far-reaching projects are a shining example of what our country does so well, pairing hard-working groups of people to accomplish important goals benefitting our communities, environment and population. While these projects are dedicated to our veterans for their noble, generous and selfless service to our country, we can all work to improve the nation and environment every day. For ideas and opportunities for getting involved with public service projects visit http://www.nationalservice.gov/.