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Developing The Next Generation of Conservation Leaders in New York State

Students chop wood with an ax in forest.There’s never difficulty in finding something to do outside in the great state of New York. Our geography is covered in numerous play and adventure lands throughout the state with some 180 State Parks scattered inside our borders. With all that land comes a need to protect and maintain our delicate landscapes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and AmeriCorps have joined to address the environmental needs of New York State with a new program. By tapping into the spirit of community service among New Yorkers, the Excelsior Conservation Corps (ECC) program seeks to improve state readiness in disaster response and recovery, protect and enhancing the state’s natural resources and strengthen recreational resources such as parks and campgrounds. The program hopes to improve access to and the health of well over 200 acres per year as well as provide opportunities for employment training and college scholarships to participants who traditionally have no access to such opportunities. The ECC hopes to create the next generation of conservation leaders in New York State by empowering young people through education, hands-on experience and training. And our own Morrisville State College couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.

The program’s emphasis is on education and career development, and Morrisville’s historical leadership in agricultural education has undoubtedly made the campus a suitable host. Morrisville State College President Dr. David. E. Rogers offered support to this designation, noting that “Located in the middle of New York, SUNY Morrisville is perfectly situated to serve as the base camp for the ECC. During their service, ECC members will have the opportunity to tap into the expertise of our SUNY faculty, experience our dynamic campus life and leverage other resources in support of the program’s goals.”

Starting on January 18, 2016 and running through November 2016, members will live on the campus of Morrisville State College where they will receive extensive training and certifications in wilderness first aid, trail construction, stone and timber construction, carpentry, risk management and emergency response, and back-country living. After completing the program’s basic training at Morrisville, members will begin engaging in service work. Set up in teams of ten, each specializing in a specific conservation career focused area, members will tackle priority projects across New York State. No matter which team they join, there will be an opportunity to serve with each of the five teams: natural resource stewardship, infrastructure and sustainability, recreation and access mapping, environmental outreach & education, and open space management.

Student Conservation Association, a leader in environmental service for youth and young adults will manage the ECC program. The program will enroll 50 members, ages of 18 to 25, to volunteer for 10 months for the improvement of their community. Aside from the various training, members will develop leadership skills, general soft skills, and marketable skills, which are designed to lead to a career in conservation or a related field. In addition, each member will be provided a weekly stipend, health insurance and will be eligible for a Segal education award at the end of their term of service which they can use to pay off student loans or use towards future educational expenses.

In order to become a member of ECC one must:

  • be a U.S. citizen or resident
  • be 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.
  • No training is required prior to placement in the ECC; however participants will have to pass a background check.

Program at a Glance:

  • 10-month program (January 18, 2016 -November 13, 2016)
  • 50 full-time membership positions for New Yorkers ages 18-25
  • ECC will be based at Morrisville State College
  • Room, board and meals will be paid for
  • Rustic lodging and camping will be require during multi-day projects away from campus
  • Service work on Department of Environmental Conservation, State Parks, & other agency conservation projects
  • 8hr service days excluding holidays and weekends
  • 8.5 weeks of training provided
  • Special emphasis on furthering member education and career development.
  • Members receive a $180 weekly stipend
  • $5,730 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award at completion

Additionally, members will receive or have the option to receive the following training or certifications:

  • Advanced Wilderness First Aid
  • CPR Certification
  • Risk Management 101
  • Logging Chainsaw Certification
  • Basic Rigging
  • Work Skills – Trail Construction and Maintenance Skills
  • Back Country Living Skills
  • Leadership and Communication
  • Volunteer Management
  • Emergency Response
  • Aquatic Life – children’s education
  • Wildlife – children’s education
  • Project Learning Tree
  • Environmental Education and Outreach

Written by Anyeline Mejia

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There is 1 comment

  • Orville says:

    Being a conservation leader is a challenge but very rewarding. It is good that we are training future leaders. Mother nature should be conserved.

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