Thousands of young people participate in conservation-focused national service programs every year. These programs, and the young people who serve in them, can offer guidance for the Biden Administration’s Civilian Climate Corps.

Top, left to right: Onondaga Earth Corps (based in NY); Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa (MN); Nevada Conservation Corps (NV); Mile High Youth Corps (CO). Bottom, left to right: Fresno Local Conservation Corps (CA); Los Angeles Conservation Corps (CA); Montana Conservation Corps (MT): X-cel Conservation Corps (MA).

On April 5, 1933 — long before April became known as “Earth Month” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order to establish the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The program operated until WWII, addressing poverty and land management by putting millions of unemployed young men to work building parks that are still used today. Importantly, the CCC also provided education, skills, and purpose to a generation that had been sidetracked by the Great Depression.

In January, nearly eighty-eight years after the creation of the CCC, President Biden signed an executive order to revive the program as a Civilian Climate…

By partnering with conservation corps, resource managers can complete work efficiently and create work opportunities for young adults

Left: Civilian Conservation Corps member [National Archives]. Right: a member with EarthCorps, a program based in Seattle, WA.

Here’s one way to scale-up a modern Civilian Conservation Corps.

The president recently signed the most significant legislation for our public lands in decades. The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) establishes sustainable funding to address the $20 billion maintenance backlog on our federal lands and complete much-needed improvement projects on other lands across the country. Over the coming years, our parks will see billions of dollars. It will soon be time to get to work.

As the COVID-19 economic downturn continues, outdoor infrastructure projects can create much-needed jobs. Young workers have been…

Mary Ellen Sprenkel

Mary Ellen Sprenkel is the President & CEO of The Corps Network, the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps.

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