Washington Conservation Corps, Washington
2013 Innovation & Leadership Awards – Outstanding Service Program
Nominated by ServeWashington
“If we get another Nor’Easter, these people no longer have to evacuate, because of your crews they get to stay in their home, comfortable and confident that the ocean will not come and haunt them again…The structure of the WCC is something very special and I know that our recovery efforts would not be the same if it weren’t for them all being here.”
— Courtney Chibbaro, Volunteer Coordinator, South Seaside Park
The Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) was established in 1983 as a service program for young adults between the ages of 18-25. It has been an AmeriCorps program since 1994. Offered through the Washington State Department of Ecology, WCC continues the legacy started by the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. The WCC provides work experience, mentoring, and both formal and informal training to members through projects that support conservation, rehabilitation, and enhancement of Washington’s natural, historic, environmental and recreational resources. Today, the WCC has 260 AmeriCorps members serving on over 50 crews in nearly every part of the state.
The unemployment rate for young adults, ages 18-25, and veterans returning from war, is nearly 20 percent. The WCC fills a niche for both demographics by providing opportunities for young adults and recently returning military veterans to gain new skills through service in the environmental field. The WCC focuses its efforts in four priority areas: 1) protecting and restoring the environment; 2) responding to local and national disasters; 3) increasing opportunities for recently returning veterans; and 4) instilling values of hard work and volunteerism.
These AmeriCorps…are champions. I’m in awe of their hard work and dedication. What an example of youthful enthusiasm. My faith in young Americans is restored. Powerful display of teamwork and selflessness.” –Donald Caetano, FEMA Region II External Affairs Director
The WCC not only protects and preserves the environment in Washington State, but they are a recognized leader in disaster response efforts across the country. Through the CNCS/FEMA Disaster Response Cooperative Agreement, the WCC is able to play a key role in helping communities respond and recover from disasters. In recent years, the WCC has responded to the deadliest and most destructive Atlantic hurricane – Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to the catastrophic EF5 Joplin, Missouri tornado in 2011, to historic 2012 wildfires in Eastern Washington, and most recently, the wreckage left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. In late October 2012, the eastern United States was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, causing an estimated $70 billion in damage and leaving millions without power. Within days, WCC crews were deployed to New Jersey and New York, two of the most severely impacted states. To date, 22 WCC Supervisors and 106 WCC AmeriCorps members have served over 38,000 hours in the response effort.