Forty-one Participants Complete 10 Months of Environmental Service at State Lands and Parks
Class of 2017 Begins January 30 and Enrollment is Now Open
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the graduation of the inaugural class of New York’s Excelsior Conservation Corps and the beginning of enrollment for a second class. Forty-one people completed the AmeriCorps environmental stewardship and education program after finishing 10 months of service.
“The Excelsior Conservation Corps is a unique opportunity for young adults to gain valuable skills and training while addressing many of the state’s environmental challenges,” Governor Cuomo said. “I applaud these young men and women for their stewardship and dedication to making New York a better place, and encourage those interested in preserving and protecting our environment for future generations of New Yorkers to apply for the Class of 2017.”
The graduating class completed environmental projects across New York, while gaining hands-on experience and conservation skills that will serve their future careers. The Excelsior Conservation Corps will begin its second class January 30. Enrollment is now open for young adults ages 18 to 25 who live or attend school in New York, and veterans from any state up to the age of 28.
During the program, ECC members were based at Morrisville State College to receive extensive training and certifications in wilderness first aid, trail construction, carpentry, risk management and emergency response, education and outreach, and backcountry living. After completing basic training, members were divided into small teams to tackle priority projects across the state. In addition to environmental stewardship work, members received disaster and volunteer management training to help communities impacted by extreme weather and serve as volunteer leaders during major storm events. Click here for a list of 2016 graduates.
ECC members completed more than 80 projects and provided services to 19 different Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation sites and 44 DEC properties. The members:
- Improved 100 miles of trail: Constructed 147 steps to rehabilitate a gorge trail in Robert H. Tremen State Park outside of Ithaca, and constructed an ADA compliant pathway on top of Prospect Mountain outside of Lake George.
- Improved 378 acres of land: Members assessed acres of land, mapped 800 culverts and water crossings in Harriman and Bear Mountain State parks for aquatic connectivity, and helped reforestation efforts at Connetquot River State Park on Long Island, which has been damaged by the southern pine beetle.
- Educated 2,500 people: Helped educate people through interpretive trail building and design; outreach at fairs, festivals and clinics; and by conducting interpretive education programing.
- Led volunteer service projects: Members oversaw service projects that brought more than 800 volunteers to natural resource management, trail repair and maintenance, habitat restoration, and general conservation stewardship efforts.
The program is administered by the Student Conservation Association, a leading national organization in youth and young adult conservation service and environmental education. The program is supported by $1.9 million in combined state and federal funding, including $1 million from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, and the State University of New York. The New York State Commission on National and Community Service, in partnership with the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, has also committed $850,000 of AmeriCorps funding to the program.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "The Excelsior Conservation Corps provides the next generation of conservation professionals with the chance to hone their skills safeguarding New York’s environment and to learn firsthand the steps we take each day to protect our irreplaceable natural resources. The wide-ranging experiences offered through their time in State Parks and natural areas helped advance on the ground conservation projects while expanding their environmental understanding, and I commend the accomplishments achieved by this inaugural class.”
New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “From the Civilian Conservation Corps to the Excelsior Conservation Corps, New York State Parks has a long tradition of hosting young workers who sharpen their skills and talents in our parks. I congratulate this year’s ECC members for building on this proud tradition, and making improvements that will benefit our natural environment and our park visitors.”
Student Conservation Association President and Chief Executive Officer Jaime Berman Matyas said, “From Letchworth State Park to Long Island, the young leaders of the Excelsior Conservation Corps skillfully addressed some of New York’s most pressing environmental issues while gaining important career experience and protecting key segments of the state’s economic engine. The ECC’s first year was a remarkable success and SCA looks forward to building on these accomplishments in the future.”
Open Enrollment Begins for Year Two
A New York State AmeriCorps program, the Excelsior Conservation Corps is now recruiting members for year two of the program, which begins on January 30, 2017. An Excelsior Conservation Corps member must:
- be a U.S. citizen or resident between the ages of 18 and 25;
- be a New York State resident or go to school in the state;
- have a high school diploma or GED;
- be able to work both independently and as part of team; and
- be able to perform physical labor.
Appropriate accommodations will be made whenever possible for those who are disabled. Special efforts will be made to recruit veterans and minority candidates. For more information, visit: www.thesca.org/serve/program/excelsior-conservation-corps.