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Crews Work to Conserve and Protect Princeville

Summer is the perfect time to accomplish work that builds a more resilient state.

Embarking on Phase II of the Princeville project, CTNC worked with Conservation Corps NC and the Town of Princeville to hire summer youth crews for conservation and maintenance projects in town.

The crew’s first stop was Heritage Park, 428 Mutual Boulevard in Princeville. This park, along the river, is an important piece of Princeville’s resilient future. By claiming it for public use, it offers much-needed overflow for river flooding and runoff. It will also be the future site of a permanent Farmer’s Market and an accessible walking trail. The crew’s efforts this summer have complemented the current use of the park while supporting future goals slated by Town leadership and community members.

At Heritage Park, the youth installed exercise stations, pollinator gardens, benches and trash receptacles, and walking paths, and also re-mulched the playground. They also installed trail signs that will serve as educational tools for parkgoers about the importance of pollinator plants, wildlife habitat, and stormwater management.

At Heritage Trail and the Elementary School, the youth completed maintenance of conservation projects installed in 2021 through similar partnerships. They mulched the newly established Heritage Trail, cleaned up debris, and removed weeds from the rain gardens designed and installed by NC State and M&M Landscaping.

Thank you to the young adults from Tarboro High School who worked with community leaders for six weeks to complete this project. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Work locations for this crew included Heritage Park, Heritage Trail, and Princeville Elementary School. This summer of work completed by the Conservation Corps North Carolina crew members fulfills the first goal of the EJ4Climate grant awarded by the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC).

This collaboration is possible in part thanks to a grant from Anonymous Trust as well as the CEC, supported by the Environmental Protection Agency. This new grant program, called EJ4Climate, addresses environmental inequality and promotes community-level innovation and climate adaptation. CTNC was one of 15 projects across three countries to receive a grant award through the CEC, a tri-national effort to promote and facilitate sustainable development in North America.

Climate Resilience Leaders – Rusty Painter

Photo of Staff Member Rusty Painter

Rusty Painter’s Master of Environmental Management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University wasn’t the end of his connection to the school and the future of climate protection. He returns each year to present to classes on a variety of topics, from CTNC’s strategic approach to address climate change and more. “I’m motivated by my son and future generations, from whom we are all ‘borrowing’ this planet.”

His background and his master’s degree in forestry are invaluable as Land Protection Director for CTNC. Rusty joined the CTNC family in 2001. He oversees CTNC’s land protection efforts along the Blue Ridge Parkway and our collaborative partnerships with local land trusts. Recent successes include the preservation of the Florence Boyd Home / Asutsi Trailhead Property, and the Cranberry Creek Expansion project, both of which will be transferred to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Rusty Painter tours the Florence Boyd/Asutsi Trailhead property with Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Swartout, Chloe Ochocki, & Caitlin Markus (L to R).

When did you first realize the real and present impacts of climate change?
The concept of global warming due to the greenhouse effect made sense to me the first time I heard about it, but I guess I really grasped the severity of the problem when Al Gore’s book An Inconvenient Truth came out. What a shame that our political, social and economic systems continued to drive us down this path. Think how much progress could have been made over the last 30 years had we committed to solving the problem back then.

What does climate resilience mean to you?
Adaptation using a combination of evolution and technology – applying our experience, and projections based on sound science to adapt to our changing climate. We must realize that adaptation isn’t the only path forward. Humans must commit themselves to actions that will minimize the need to adapt, or the extent to which we must adapt.

How have you seen climate change impact North Carolina?
One example that I struggle with in my work at CTNC is the expansion of tick habitat. I never used to get ticks while visiting our conservation properties along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but climatic shifts have enabled ticks to colonize areas that were previously too cold, so I’m now getting ticks while out on properties in the mountains. Yuck!

What are actions that organizations in NC can take right now to make our state more resilient?
Conserve energy. Simply using less results in immediate reductions of carbon emissions and has the potential to save far more resources (of all kinds) than our slow, incremental conversion to renewable energy sources. I challenge everyone to consider every action they take throughout the day and do it with half of what they currently use. You’ll find it’s not as difficult as you think. That approach can be applied to most organizations, corporations and government agencies as well. Once ingrained in our psyche, daily routines, organizational procedures, and subsequently, our infrastructure, carbon neutrality on a timeline that will make a difference becomes legitimately achievable.

What’s one thing everyone should know about climate action?
It’s up to all of us to change our mindset and daily routines, but also to support groups doing good work, and electing leaders committed to making the difficult decisions & changes we must make.

Working in climate resilience can be overwhelming. How do you keep going?
I remain optimistic because of the resilience of the human spirit and advancements in technology. Organisms change and adapt…daily, yearly, and over generations. Humans have evolved to the point where we can adapt naturally, like other species, but also use technology to ‘artificially’ adapt. I just hope society is willing to change sooner rather than later, so future generations don’t have to rely on artificial adaptations that will diminish our connection to the natural world.

If you have questions about how CTNC’s land protection enhances climate resilience, contact Rusty to start a conversation.

Princeville Elementary School teachers volunteer during a community planting day.

We did it, and YOU made it possible!

The first phase of CTNC’s work with and for the Town of Princeville is complete, and the students at Princeville Elementary School are so excited to have the outdoor learning lab, educational signage, and the Heritage Trail.

None of this would have been possible without your investment in our vision of community-led conservation.

Princeville Heritage Trail
The newly created Heritage Trail will connect Princeville Elementary to the history museum.
Princeville Youth Crew
Members of the Conservation Corps North Carolina summer youth crew who executed the work.
Princeville Rain Garden
Rain gardens designed by NC State Coastal Dynamics Design Lab will capture stormwater run-off from the roof before it flows into the Tar River.
Princeville Education Stations
Education Stations built for teachers and students by NC State Design + Build Lab.

Community-led conservation looks different than typical conservation, but it makes an outsized impact for North Carolinians. By being welcomed into the long-term, collaborative work in Princeville, we at CTNC have been welcomed into a much larger community of organizations and agencies looking at resilience across the entire state. By collaborating with local residents, we show conservation can be a tool to protect culturally significant land and provide tangible benefits through youth conservation programming, educational installations, and flood mitigation.

With your investment in our work, CTNC can continue to partner with communities around the state to build a model for community resilience.

Please considering donating today.

Youth to Help Seed Resilience at Princeville Elementary School

The Princeville partnership is a model for how conservation can meet community needs.

After Hurricane Matthew flooded many Eastern NC communities in 2016, the Princeville Elementary School was shuttered for four years while renovations took place. This year, as students return to campus, local teens will help install conservation amenities at the school and in the town. The work is designed to help students and their families understand the impacts of future floods, learn how to manage storm water, and participate in their community’s effort to rebuild in ways that are bigger, better, and bolder.

Conservation Led by Community Needs

A collaborative of state and local partners — including CTNC, NC State Coastal Dynamics Design Lab, Conservation Corps North Carolina, and Resilience Corps NC — has been working alongside the Town of Princeville and Princeville Elementary School to develop the community-led conservation project.  The project addresses storm water management challenges while investing in outdoor education amenities for the school and surrounding neighborhood.

Community members provided feedback on the design of the Heritage Trail.
Map created by NC State Coastal Dynamics Design Lab.

“Princeville is rich in history, traditions, and culture. I’m excited that students will have access and opportunity to learn more about this amazing place we call home.” – Principal Mercer, Princeville Elementary School

A Summer to Seed Resilience

A Floodprint, developed by NC State Coastal Dynamics Design Lab, identified the newly re-opened elementary school as a hub for the community that would benefit from innovative, natural solutions to capture storm water and manage flooding.

NC State’s Design + Build lab students will be installing shaded seating areas, education stations, garden planters, a bee hotel and bird feeders along the School breezeway behind the Library. These installations will support the school’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) curriculum goals while connecting students to nature through experiential learning. 

Rendering developed by NC State Design + Build students.

Conservation Corps North Carolina, formerly the NC Youth Conservation Corps, will manage two youth crews staffed by Princeville and Tarboro youth ages 15-18. They will assist with construction, maintenance, and installation of storm water management features, outdoor classrooms and the Heritage Trail that connect the elementary school to the Princeville History Museum. The youth will be paid, gain skills in landscape design and maintenance, and participate in networking and professional development opportunities.

Photo provided by Conservation Corps North Carolina.

Neighboring residents are most excited about a trail that will provide a walkable path to the center of town as well as the potential for community gathering spaces like picnic tables.

This summer’s work is but the start of many collaborations over the coming years to fulfill the vision of the Floodprint and other town plans for greater resilience and revitalization. With additional funding, we look forward to implementing more bold ideas generated from, with, and for the Town of Princeville.

Who is involved:

The Town of Princeville and Princeville Elementary School, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, NC State Coastal Dynamics Design Lab, Conservation Corps North Carolina and Resilience Corps NC.

This project is made possible through a grant awarded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation/Wells Fargo Program for Resilient Communities, Seeding Resilience Through Restoration and Education in Princeville (NC).

Restoration and Education Seeds Resilience with Princeville Elementary School Community

Diverse Partnerships and Long-term Funding Spur First Phase in Princeville Floodprint

Since its founding as Freedom Hill in 1865, Princeville has survived the chaos of Reconstruction, the institutionalized discrimination of the Jim Crow era, and in recent years, multiple devastating floods. Resilience has long characterized this community — and of course, its people. Now, Princeville is charting a path toward a resilient, thriving future.

In September, the Princeville Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a “Floodprint” to help guide how Princeville can better live with flood risks while enhancing its historic center and economic future. The plan is the result of years of work and input from the community. Town leaders and residents worked in partnership with NC State University’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab to envision ways to better live with the risks of flooding while enhancing its historic center and economic future. Click here to view the entire Floodprint or watch the video below.

FUNDING AWARDED TO SEED COMMUNITY RESILIENCE

The Elementary School underwent extreme flooding in 2016.

CTNC was recently awarded a $200,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wells Fargo Resilient Communities Program to implement the first phase of the Floodprint: Seeding Resilience Through Restoration and Education in Princeville. “Seeding Resilience” will design and install green infrastructure on the grounds of the recently renovated and flood-proofed Princeville Elementary School building, so it can better manage future floods. 

The project will reduce flood risks at the school and the adjacent Asbury Park apartments, a rental assistance complex for low-income families. It will also create an educational trail from the school toward the historic Princeville Museum. Improvement of the landscape areas around the school provides opportunities for direct water management and storage for the center of the community and all housing surrounding it. It also will beautify an area that has long served as the communal hub for the town. 

But this plan goes far beyond just land. This is about serving alongside the resilient people of Princeville.

For three years, students living in Princeville had to attend schools in nearby towns after Hurricane Matthew hit the town in 2016 and flooded the town — including the school. With the reopening in January 2020, after a $6 million renovation and flood-proofing, the Princeville Elementary School welcomed back its almost 200 students and has since become a symbol of hope for revitalizing and reconnecting the community. And then, of course, COVID-19 disrupted the reopened school. CTNC and partners believe that realization of a successful, collaborative project at Princeville Elementary, visible and tangible to residents and visitors, will encourage further engagements toward sustainability and resilience in the community that is too often left to build itself back up after disaster.

The Elementary School project is a symbol of hope for the Princeville community.

“To best serve the people of Princeville, the Elementary School campaign will be a collaborative effort just as the Floodprint plan has been since its inception.” – Chris Canfield

There are many groups involved in this community-led effort.

  • A Conservation Corps North Carolina crew will support implementation of the design plans, including building a trail that will connect the school with the Princeville History Museum. 
  • A Resilience Corps North Carolina member will work with teachers at the school to develop an environmental education curriculum related to water management.
  • Design students from NC State University will collaborate with youth work crews from Conservation Corps NC and local Princeville students in planning and construction.
The Princeville Museum ensures the legacy and rich history of African Americans in Princeville will not be forgotten.

This is certainly an ambitious enterprise: one that requires many hands. CTNC is grateful for the partnerships in Princeville helping to build a resilient future together. Investing in North Carolina’s rich African American history through conservation-focused resources will lift up a shared vision we can all be proud to support and carry forward.

COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS MAKE COMMUNITY-LED CONSERVATION POSSIBLE

The Floodprint plan is the result of years of work among partners with the Town of Princeville, NC State University’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab, The Conservation Fund, the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments and Conservation Trust for North Carolina. This project is made possible with support from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and The Duke Energy Foundation. Thank you to these wonderful partners.

Launching the first phase of the Floodprint is made possible by a Resilient Communities Grant from the Resilient Communities Program, a collaboration between Wells Fargo and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

We thank these entities for their generous investment and for seeing the crucial need to help communities better prepare for and respond to climate-related natural disasters by investing in green infrastructure.

“This program continues to demonstrate how local communities can use the benefits of natural ecosystems to provide for a more resilient future for our nation,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The 11 grants we announce in partnership with Wells Fargo will work to build resilience locally, to help communities meet future challenges through natural systems and resources, and will benefit habitats for birds, fish and other wildlife.”

This has been an extraordinary journey over the last few months, but boots are now on the ground implementing the visions of so many that are deeply invested in building a thriving future for all in Princeville. Learn more about this collaborative.

**The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation or its funding sources. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation or its funding sources.**

A Dedication to Climate Resilience

Championing climate-resilient conservation to achieve statewide systemic change

“A resilient North Carolina is a state where our communities, economies, and ecosystems are better able to rebound, positively adapt to, and thrive amid changing conditions and challenges, including disasters and climate change; to maintain quality of life, healthy growth, and durable systems; and to conserve resources for present and future generations.”

Executive Summary, North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan, June 2020

Addressing North Carolina’s Current Needs

Our state needs to prepare for the challenges our communities face today and tomorrow.  Historically, land protection efforts have been driven by a property’s conservation value scored by biology, geography and hydrology. Today, we must strive to bring additional focus to how people – all North Carolinians – may be impacted by the lands we conserve and how they benefit best from that work.

Our resilience strategy is all about protecting people just like you.

At CTNC, we seek to deliver conservation with this deeper purpose. Our diverse range of expertise in land protection along the Blue Ridge Parkway, our successful young adult service and education programs, and our commitment to advancing race equity in the conservation sector have well-positioned CTNC to respond to the needs of North Carolina communities in innovative and holistic ways. 

Guided by our values, CTNC’s staff and board have adopted a holistic approach to land conservation. Alongside our community partners, CTNC seeks to understand people’s relationship with land so we can better understand how conservation can support better outcomes related to public health, economic development, access to recreation and healthy foods, and building communities resilient to the impacts of climate change.”

-Chris Canfield, CTNC Executive Director

A strategy that’s catching on

A community-led approach to conservation is emerging in the state. The recently released North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan – which CTNC contributed to – emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to statewide resilience. This plan provides CTNC and our partners with shared, foundational goals we can build on.

The report states that “immediate focus must be on developing strategic priorities for public and natural infrastructure improvements as well as actions that integrate climate resiliency into agency operations, local disaster recovery programs, and long-term planning.”

Our resilience work is inspiring a new approach to conservation

CTNC is well equipped to deliver on that focus: we have already begun to work with community partners to develop a long-term resilience plan in Princeville and look forward to modeling this approach across the state.

Embracing equity as a guiding priority for our work, we’re inspired to see North Carolina leadership acknowledge the need to build capacity among our most marginalized communities. That emphasis is key to seeding systemic change toward greater resilience. Our state now has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to adopt policies that promote statewide resilience for the health of our land and all our people.

A close-up on the strategy in action

CTNC’s holistic resilience strategy is already taking shape.

Using a variety of resources, we will assist the Princeville community to build a more resilient future

With the help of amazing community partners, the expertise of the NC State’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab, and the trust of the Princeville citizens, we are completing the Floodprint this fall. This detailed plan shows how smart conservation and landscape planning can help the town survive future floods while building a vibrant economy that preserves and celebrates Princeville’s proud history. 

But a plan is only as good as the action it guides. CTNC is now launching on-the-ground action to begin a first phase of work outlined in the Floodprint.

We are collaborating with partners to build water-absorbing, green infrastructure around the Princeville Elementary School. The school building, at the hub of the community, has been recently renovated and flood-proofed. CTNC’s project adds rain gardens, bio-swales, and other natural approaches to water management on the expansive school grounds. A Conservation Corps North Carolina crew will do much of the work, including building an educational trail for public use. A CTNC AmeriCorps service member will help develop an environmental education curriculum in partnership with students and faculty.

We are documenting our steps during this process to learn from, improve our work, and share lessons toward developing a statewide, community-based model for building resilience.

These are only the beginning steps in a multilayered and multiyear partnership. We know that achieving resilience will be an ongoing, challenging mission, but we are excited – and hopeful – that you will join us to help build a resilient, more just North Carolina.

Princeville continues to struggle with flooding from the Tar River.

Learn more about our Princeville Collaborative by joining our email list. You’ll receive updates as we launch new projects with the Town and other communities throughout the state.

Eat your veggies!

Conservation Corps North Carolina members assist a community garden; help build unity in Durham.

Typically, teams working with Conservation Corps North Carolina spend a lot of time building and improving hiking trails and outdoor recreation spaces in rustic locales. But this assignment was community-based as the crew worked to benefit an urban farm in the heart of Durham. Durham’s Urban Community AgriNomics program (UCAN) partnered with Conservation Corps North Carolina (CCNC) to take on an unconventional project: giving the growing space a little extra ❤️.

The CCNC crew spent over 1,255 combined hours working at the UCAN farm. They helped build a new chicken coop to replace a dilapidated one. 🐔They also repaired an “intergenerational sharing deck” to be used as a community gathering space, complete with a wheelchair ramp, safety railing and properly secured posts for structural integrity.

A work in progress: construction of UCAN’s intergenerational sharing deck, which will foster community and conversation among Durham residents who visit the farm.

“I wanted some land in Northern Durham where I could bring community together and help people,” UCAN founder Delphine Sellars said. “Because I know that a lot of the kids, for example, are being bussed from inner city Durham. And they bring their drama and their traumas.” 

The team worked safely, efficiently and with dedication to enhance a space that would engage the surrounding community, build relationships and enable UCAN to better support Durham residents – because when people gather around fresh food and good conversation, there’s nothing they can’t accomplish. 🌶🥕🥦

Happy gardening! The CCNC crew stands with UCAN founder Delphine Sellars (middle) on the Catawba Trail Farm site.

Conservation Trust for North Carolina is proud to support strong, resilient communities through Conservation Corps North Carolina work. Because, when our lands and communities are experiencing threats, we need conservation solutions powered by people. And if we’re searching for rejuvenation in our communities, there’s not much fresh air, good food and a little exercise can’t accomplish.

If you’d like to see the team in action and learn how their work with CCNC has enhanced their personal and professional community, check out this video.

And, as always, we’d love to see you join our own community and keep you updated! Consider signing up for our email list to receive future updates about our work.

AmeriCorps Members have a unique opportunity to serve the public and engage with natural spaces around North Carolina.

Building Community, One Board at a Time

Conservation Corps North Carolina serves the public through a trail restoration project with Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association

Hammer? Check. Nails? Check. A hardworking crew? Conservation Corps has that, too. 

This July, a team of six Conservation Corps crew members and two team leaders worked with the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association (ECWA) to complete a much-needed trail reroute project. They performed maintenance on an existing trail boardwalk – and built an entirely new one! 😱  – in the 17-Acre Wood Nature Preserve in Durham. 

“Right now, we are in a generation that, for the first time in human civilization, is a really indoor generation. I love the way [the Conservation Corps program] puts people into nature, into the outdoors, and makes them aware of nature in a way that they feel like they’re contributing to the public…”

–Jan Pender, program manager for Conservation Corps N.C.

Together, the group assembled and installed new signs and replaced old signage at two nature preserves: ECWA’s Beaver Creek Nature Preserve and Glennstone Nature Preserve. 🌿

Can you guess how many service hours the team contributed to ECWA during the project? 

627 hours! One person would have had to labor more than 26 days around the clock to make that happen. But team work … makes the dream work. 😉

The team at UNC-TV produced a phenomenal spot on this hardworking crew. Take a look!

During their “hitch” – that’s what AmeriCorps crews call their service outings, which last around nine days– the Conservation Corps North Carolina crew members learned a lot about themselves and each other.

CTNC was proud to fund the project through a grant with the Duke Energy Foundation. 🔌⚡️ Trails of public lands statewide wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without the dedication of these hardworking Conservation Corps service teams and the nonprofit organizations with which they partner. 

Jan Pender, Program Manager for Conservation Corps North Carolina, says that the Conservation Corps program is “important for our state’s future.”

“We have a rapidly growing population of young people, and of diverse young people,”  she says. “We want to serve all those people and get them connected to our state’s great public assets and help people understand the importance of stewarding them and preserving them.”

New Partnership Expands Conservation Corps

After successfully managing the North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps for six years, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, under a new strategic partnership with Colorado-based Conservation Legacy, will expand the program under a new name: Conservation Corps North Carolina.

Conservation Legacy is a national organization dedicated to supporting locally based conservation service programs across the country.

Under this new partnership, Conservation Corps North Carolina will engage motivated young adults, ages 16-27, to complete challenging and meaningful conservation service projects throughout the state. Projects include trail construction & maintenance, habitat improvement, hazard fuel reduction, and ecological restoration. The program, formerly operated in partnership with Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, will double its corps work for the Summer 2019 season.

“CTNC is committed to growing the successful conservation corps program so it can provide greater opportunities for a diversity of young people to help meet North Carolina’s critical conservation needs,” said CTNC Executive Director Chris Canfield. “With the increase in severity and frequency of storms impacting our parks and the maintenance backlog of conserved lands, Conservation Corps North Carolina is needed now more than ever. The program offers a unique opportunity for North Carolina’s young people to complete conservation service projects in their local community while developing leadership and team-building skills.”

“Conservation Legacy is proud to partner with CTNC to expand corps opportunities in North Carolina,” said Conservation Legacy CEO Susan Cimburek. “We look forward to working together to fulfill our common missions of conserving our land while fostering the next generation of leaders for our nation’s natural resources.”

Canfield added, “Conservation Legacy has demonstrated success building local corps programs to meet community needs with operations in Tennessee and Virginia. We are confident that our goals align and Conservation Corps North Carolina will prosper under Conservation Legacy’s strong leadership.”

The program will continue to offer residential crew positions where individuals camp in remote locations as well as expanded community crews where youth work in their local community while living at home. Crews will work with federal, state, and local partners as well as land trusts and private groups to complete necessary trail building and maintenance, facility improvement, and habitat restoration work, as well as chainsaw work and prescribed burning assistance.

To find open positions with Conservation Corps North Carolina, click here.

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About Conservation Trust for North Carolina

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina protects the Blue Ridge Parkway’s natural and scenic corridor, assists land conservation, youth development, and community engagement work, and connects North Carolina families with the outdoors. Land trusts preserve land and waterways to safeguard your way of life. They work with landowners to ensure natural lands are protected for safe drinking water and clean air, fresh local foods, recreation, tourism, and healthy wildlife habitat. More information about CTNC is available at www.ctnc.org or @ct4nc.

About Conservation Legacy

Conservation Legacy provides support for local conservation service organizations under the leadership of a national organization, delivering high-quality programming in communities across the country to produce enduring impact through local action. In 2017, Conservation Legacy engaged over 2,000 youth, young adults, and veterans in conservation, restoration, and community development projects and contributed 1.1 million hours of service to public lands. 

Conservation Legacy programs—Arizona Conservation Corps, Conservation Corps New Mexico, Great Appalachian Valley Conservation Corps, Southeast Conservation Corps, Southwest Conservation Corps, Stewards Individual Placement Program and Preserve America Youth Summit—engage participants on diverse conservation and community service projects that provide opportunities for personal and professional development and meet the high priority needs of public land managers and community partners. Working in close collaboration with partners across the country, Conservation Legacy advances goals of increasing opportunities in conservation, stewardship, national service, and workforce development. More information about Conservation Legacy is available at conservationlegacy.org.

NCYCC Wraps Up 2018 Summer Season

We are nearing the end of the North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps (NCYCC) 2018 summer season and all is well on the trails and in the parks. In just a few short weeks, our corps members have accomplished so much.

We have 36 amazing young people contributing thousands of hours of work to improve, restore, and preserve North Carolina’s parks and trails. At the same time, they are receiving a rich education in job and life skills, environmental stewardship, leadership, community service and personal responsibility.

This summer has been a truly life-changing experience.

N.C. Crew 1 – State Parks AmeriCorps Chainsaw Crew

Hazard trees are dead or dying trees at risk of injuring people because of their proximity to public trails and park facilities. Hazard tree removal is a priority maintenance need of the NC State Park system because of severe storms in recent years.

This year launched a new partnership between CTNC and the N.C. Division of Parks to employ a chainsaw-certified crew to address hazardous tree removal within state parks. NC Crew 1 spent their first week doing trail work in heat indexes well over 100°, filling in “the biggest hole known to human existence” caused by flooding at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park. They followed up by completing a North Carolina State Park chainsaw certification course at Morrow Mountain State Park. The crew returned to Cliffs of the Neuse State Park to use their new chainsaw skills to remove hazard trees along the park’s hiking trails. The crew also spent weeks supporting parks staff at Jones Lake State Park and Lake Waccamaw State Park.

In addition to getting paid hourly, the crew members will receive an AmeriCorps education award at the end of their service. This education award can be used to pay higher education or training institution expenses or to repay qualified student loans. The members will also gain valuable job qualifications with the chainsaw certification they obtained. One member has plans to apply for a wildland fire fighting position after he completes his NCYCC season.

Not only has the crew visited some of our states most celebrated state parks, but they also used their free-time to eat some local barbeque, visit the North Carolina Aquarium and attend the Eno River Festival.

The Goldsboro Daily News had this to say about N.C. Crew 1.

This partnership was made possible thanks to legislation introduced by Representative Jimmy Dixon, with the support of Representative Chuck McGrady and Senator Harry Brown, during the 2017 legislative session.

N.C. Crew 2 – United States Forest Service Trail Crew

N.C. Crew 2 built a set of box steps on badly eroded trail section of the Upper Creek Falls Trail in the Pisgah National Forest. The Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests are the most visited national forests in the United States.

This NCYCC youth crew (15-18-years-old) spent the first two weeks of the summer restoring the Upper Creek Falls Trail in the Grandfather District of the Pisgah National Forest. They later moved to the Pisgah District of the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard where they are restoring a number of trails around the Pisgah Visitor Center.

The crew is seeing how high traffic and water flow erode trails. They are learning how to build re-routes, trail structures and strategically place large rocks to restore and preserve the trails. The USFS rangers are giving them a big “thumbs up” for the quantity and quality of their work. Because the members work on some of the Pisgah District’s most highly used trails, they have received plenty of thanks from hikers.

The crew has used their weekends to visit Chimney Rock State Park, Sliding Rock and the town of Brevard.

Two members of the crew are returning from last year and one of those has decided to pursue a degree in sustainable development at Appalachian State University this fall. Another crew member is using his NCYCC experience to fulfill his high school program’s internship requirement.

N.C. Crews 3.1 and 3.2 – Land Trust and Local Government Crews

N.C. Crews 3.1 and 3.2 are this year’s two three-week teen crews. Both crews’ work includes two weeks of long-leaf pine restoration, trail building and maintenance, and park and campground improvements for the Coastal Land Trust. Crew 3.1 also worked on removing invasive species and trail maintenance for Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation in Charlotte. Crew 3.2 will do an additional week of work building a boardwalk and removing invasive species for Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association in Durham.

Charlotte’s Spectrum News interviewed N.C. Crew 3.1. Take a look here!

What’s Next…

The crews will end their NCYCC program on August 4 with a professional development event in Raleigh. Duke Energy Foundation funds a full day of workshops to help NCYCC participants prepare for the next step of their education and career journey. The day includes sessions on financial literacy, skills matching, and goal setting, interviewing, project management and gap year opportunities. It also includes a natural resources career panel of representatives from local, state, and federal agencies, a nonprofit, and a for-profit company to give participants information about natural resource jobs in each of these sectors.

The NCYCC program is supported by Conservation Trust for North Carolina, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, N.C. State Parks, U.S. Forest Service, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, Duke Energy Foundation, N.C. Electric Membership Cooperative, Wells Fargo, Coastal Land Trust, Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, Fred and Alice Stanback, the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Foundation, Little Acorn Fund, the Smith Family Foundation, and the generosity of individual donors.

It is because of this generous support that these young people have an opportunity to learn about the natural world, grow in their understanding of the value of public lands, connect with nature on a daily basis, gain work skills and certifications, and discover new things about themselves and other people.

You are helping CTNC cultivate a new generation of conservation leaders for North Carolina.

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