259 Young People Graduate from Conservation Jobs Corps
Successful summer parks program completes its sixth year
Today marked a momentous occasion for 259 young men and women ─ joined by their friends, families and mentors ─ who graduated from the Maryland Conservation Jobs Corps (CJC) at a ceremony at North Point State Park in Baltimore County. During their work with the six-week summer jobs program, geared toward disadvantaged teens, Corps members helped restore Maryland State Parks while gaining green jobs experience and an appreciation for nature.
“I want to offer a well deserved Congratulations to each of the bright, promising graduates of this year’s Conservation Jobs Corps program,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Through their actions, these young men and women have demonstrated a deep respect and appreciation for their natural world. It is with this passion and stewardship ethic that they will inspire others to follow suit ─ helping create a healthier, greener Maryland for generations to come.”
This year, Maryland Conservation Corps members, Maryland Park Service staff and CJC crew chiefs led projects and provided mentoring for the five- to eight- member CJC crews at Assateague, Gunpowder Falls, Patapsco Valley, and Susquehanna State Parks, as well as the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary and the Gwynns Falls Trail Park.
Projects included cleaning and improving trails, removing invasive species, planting trees, installing trail signs, building deer and turtle enclosures, and many other basic landscaping and construction jobs. Corp members also enjoyed kayaking, camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities that teach important skills and foster a personal connection with nature.
Select youth at each park were recognized with SPIRIT Awards at the ceremony, for having exemplified the SPIRIT principles ─ Stewardship, Professionalism, Initiative, Respect, Integrity and Teamwork.
Members also participated in environmental education activities through a partnership with the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Bridging the Watershed program. CJC crew chiefs were trained to conduct multidisciplinary field studies that help young people understand and appreciate the natural world, how it functions, and how each person plays a role in keeping it healthy.
Established by Governor O’Malley in 2008, CJC has graduated approximately 1,800 youth. The program works to provide young people, ages 14 to 17, with skills that will prepare them for many career opportunities and a lifetime of healthy outdoor recreation. Through team building projects, stewardship activities and conservation service, members leave with a better connection with their peers, community and natural resources.
CJC was created to function as a sister organization of the Maryland Conservation Corps, an award-winning, year-round AmeriCorps program comprised of young adults ages 17 to 25.
“Those who participate in the CJC program learn a lot and seem to gain a newfound awareness of nature,” said MPS Superintendent Nita Settina. “And, as in past years, we are so thankful that the added manpower helped complete work in State Parks that would have cost the State more than $2.5 million dollars.”