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THE VISIBLE BENEFITS OF SERVICE and conservation corps are their projects, and the work the accomplish. But corps also help young people become more confident, contributing members of society through training and work experience. While all Corps are different, the basic responsibility to youth development as well as the community is standard. Typically Corps provide extensive training for crew leaders and Corpsmembers at the beginning of their term of services— sometimes lasting as long as six weeks. After that, education and training is built into the work schedule. For the project sponsor, technical training ensures Corpsmembers are prepared to complete high-quality, technical projects. For the Corpsmember, technical training can lead to jobs skills, potentially resulting in jobs for Corpsmembers.
California Conservation Corps learning rock retaining wall
building skills on a CA State Parks Project at Lake Tahoe
While technical abilities are important, there are more basic “soft skills,” which also contribute to the quality of work completed on site. This training is geared to improve civic engagement, reinforce positive living, and reduce risk behaviors. Working on difficult projects also teaches firsthand about leadership, civic responsibility, and environmental stewardship. The Montana Conservation Corps, for example, provides its PLACE training to empower young, active leaders.
The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Steamboat Springs, CO uses a SEED curriculum to build environmental stewardship. The Nevada Conservation Corps, part of the Great Basin Institute, engages young adults in environmental field studies and a research associate program, with a naturalist servicelearning program for school-aged students.
Every February, the Maine Conservation Corps brings on six potential team leaders to participate in a 10-week trail training course. One goal is to encourage more females to become Team Leaders, by working on their confidence and leadership skills. The MCC Trail Training program offers a two week Wilderness First Responder certification course. Other classes include conflict resolution, team building, tree identification, sanitation and hygiene, tool maintenance, food planning and preparation, trail design and construction, and chainsaw use and safety.
Some trainings are provided in-house by Corps staff, while others may be led by project sponsors and partners such as state and federal land managers, local universities, and nonprofit organizations. The result is that Corpsmembers, with their new skills in hand, become ideal candidates for staff at partner agencies.