Senate Committee Hearing Thursday on the Public Lands Service Corps

This coming Thursday the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will look at a bill to strengthen national service activity on public lands.

The Public Lands Service Corps Act, s. 1442, would amend the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 and would:

  • provide service-learning opportunities on public lands
  • establish a grant program for Indian Youth Service Corps
  • help restore the Nation’s natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational, and scenic resources
  • train a new generation of public land managers and enthusiasts, and promote the value of public service

The bill was introduced in July by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), who is also the chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) cosponsored the bill.

According to its blog, The Corps Network is providing information to help land management officials prepare their testimony for Thursday’s hearing.

These Senators are on the Energy and Natural Resource Committee and will be considering the legislation:

Senate Energy + Natural Resources Committee Members

Senate Energy + Natural Resources Committee Members

In March, Congressional Representatives introduced similar legislation (H.R. 1612) in the House. That legislation passed out of committee in June, and has the past week been added to the Union Calendar in the House (Calendar no. 177).

Learn more about Public Lands on the Public Lands Day site.

AmeriCorps — a Great First “Job”

Sarah Stankorb, The Corps Network

Sarah Stankorb, The Corps Network

This post was contributed by former AmeriCorps member and staffer at The Corps Network Sarah Stankorb.

A good number of my friends have suddenly found themselves precariously and unintentionally unemployed. Hearing their stories of frustration, the heaps of resumes they’ve had to send out each week, and the dull quiet of phones that have failed to ring, I can’t help but think back to my first bout with unemployment.

I was about to graduate from college (something neither of my parents had done), and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had nearly earned a philosophy degree and was not finding myself to be particularly employable. Worse yet, there was no clear next step for me. I was in uncharted waters.

A professor of mine, helping me contemplate whether graduate school or the workforce were the next best home for me, Continue reading

Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2009 Passes Committee in the House

Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia corps member cuts a fallen tree.

Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia corps member cuts a fallen tree.

Today the House Natural Resources Committee passed the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2009.

H.R. 1612, the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2009, aims to mobilize thousands of service corps participants over the next few years to help the national parks and other public lands restore and repair lands; engage exponentially more volunteers to serve episodically in the parks; to invest in a new, more diverse generation of National Park Service leaders.

Introduced to the House of Representatives in April by U.S. Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), the bill next goes to the floor of the House for a vote. (Go here to contact your Representative in favor of the bill.) No companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate yet.

Projects could include rehabilitating campgrounds, restoring historic structures, eradicating invasive Continue reading

Green Jobs and Infrastructure Act of 2008

Act introduced that proposes funding a new service corps for clean energy.

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)  has introduced a clean energy bill that includes a provision to fund the Clean Energy Service Corps, to fall under the work of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The Clean Energy Service Corps would be modeled on AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, and would focus on creating a diverse corps, and recruiting corps members who are economically disadvantage and need marketable job skills. From the Apollo Alliance, an organization that supported the creation of the act:

[From their article:] “The Clean Energy Service Corps (CESC) … would engage rural and urban young adults, students, and seniors, in a combined service, training, and job creation effort to build the green economy.  Corpsmembers will earn a stipend while improving energy efficiency through large-scale greening projects, including construction of, and improvements to, low-income housing, public buildings, neighborhood parks, and public lands. Priority will be given to programs that enroll Corpsmembers who are economically disadvantaged and that provide those Corpsmembers with job training linked careers in the green economy.  Older Americans and students will also engage in service as volunteers, sharing their skills and gaining experience while providing valuable service to their communities.”

[From the press release:] “The Clean Energy Service Corps will support the participation of 25,000 young adult corps members in its first year. An additional 200,000 seniors will mobilize as full- and part-time corps members and volunteers during the first year of the program. Finally, over 600,000 students will engage in community-based service learning, and volunteer projects coordinated by the CEC.”

One of the groups backing the bill is the The Corps Network, a group of conservation service corps working throughout the United States.

Read about The Corps Network’s green service corps in New Orleans.

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In New Orleans: Service by the People, for the People

Marginalized New Orleans Youth Strive for a Brighter, Greener Future

The Corps Network has recently launched a new service program in New Orleans. The Conservation Corps of Greater New Orleans (CCGNO) combines many goals:

  • Engage local youth whom the schools have not reached, including formerly incarcerated and court-involved 16-24 year olds
  • Prepare these youth with highly marketable and potentially lucrative green job skills
  • Give them the chance to use sustainable practices to restore the environment and historic structures, conserve energy, and build community
  • Revitalize New Orleans, a city still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina
  • Innovate service learning practices by implementing them without the classroom
  • Transform the public perception of marginalized youth by giving them a platform and a voice
  • Instill in these youth the value of service to community at an early age

CCGNO leverages some investment from the Federal government, to not only transform the lives of its Corps members but also to rebuild and rejuvenate New Orleans infrastructure and community.

The program graduates its first class of Corps members this Friday through its Service Learning Showcase, where 100 Corps members will share their accomplishments from their three-month term of service.

During their term, Corps members visualized success, researched and assessed community needs, proposed and implemented sustainable projects, and finally evaluated their own outcomes. Corps members have served side by side with up to seven peers, plus professional mentors who have guided them. They have served in agencies throughout Greater New Orleans.

Recruited from the parishes of Greater New Orleans, the inaugural class of CCGNO show that quality service-learning comes through youth ownership. By mid-2009, CCGNO hopes to have graduated 800 Corps members.

While some service corps programs are hit-or-miss when it comes to career transitions, CCGNO is all about green workforce development, and commits to propelling its graduating Corps members towards green jobs and further education.

For further reading on bringing all voices to the environmental movement, check out In November 2008, Green For All’s founder Van Jones published a book Green Collar Economy. Also read this New York Times blog post (from 11/10/08) about Van Jones and the Obama administration. Check out this interview with Van Jones, who explains more: