261 Young People Graduate from Conservation Jobs Corps
Successful summer parks program completes seventh year
Today marked a momentous occasion for the 261 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 job program, Corps members helped enhance park land while gaining green jobs experience and an appreciation for nature.
“Congratulations to these amazing young men and women on realizing their goals and accomplishing so much in such a short time,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Through the Conservation Jobs Corps program, these graduates have gained a strong environmental stewardship ethic and on the job skills that will last a lifetime.”
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, Seneca Creek and Susquehanna state parks, as well as the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary and the Gwynns Falls Trail Park.
In one of the most notable projects, CJC, the National Park Service, the Maryland School for the Blind, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources partnered to create an all-sensory trail at Patapsco Valley State Park. This Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible path features items that play to the senses to offer an interactive experience for people who are vision or hearing impaired.
Other 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 ─ Stewardship, Professionalism, Initiative, Respect, Integrity and Teamwork principles.
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 2,000 youth. The program works to provide young people, ages 14 to17, 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.
“The CJC program is an all around win-win, providing hardworking, enthusiastic youth with the tools and support to make a difference around them,” said MPS Superintendent Nita Settina. “I want to thank each of these graduates for spending their spring and summer enhancing our parks for the benefit of all who enjoy them. The added manpower has helped complete work in our parks that would have cost the State more than $2.5 million.”