WASHINGTON – The National Park Foundation and The Corps Network announced the launch of the NPS Youth Corps Partnership, an initiative to assist national park sites to engage the Conservation Corps in completing critical maintenance work made possible by the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). Funding from the National Park Foundation will support the capacity of The Corps Network to work with National Park Service Maintenance Action Teams (MATs) staff. The staff will scope out and facilitate projects in which Conservation Corps will assist small and medium parks, particularly in urban areas. Facility management staffing at smaller park units has been disproportionately impacted by budget reductions in recent years, which may further reduce their ability to qualify for certain projects. The new initiative will help address the need by providing parks with skilled individuals to accomplish critical deferred maintenance and repair.
“Service Corps are a force multiplier for the National Park Service,” said Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “The Corps Network offers tremendous experience in parks and is well-positioned to help the National Park Service identify needs of mid-sized and smaller parks where service corps could be used to get priority work done more quickly than otherwise might be the case.”
“On behalf of our membership of more than 140 Conservation Corps programs across the country, I extend deep appreciation to the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service for making this initiative possible. Together, we can make an impact on the maintenance backlog and inspire a new generation of park stewards,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network. “We look forward to seeing how this effort will not only address pressing projects at our parks, but, in doing so, also help expand equitable access to natural and cultural sites as well as pathways to park careers. We are grateful for this opportunity to engage additional Corps and young people in work and workforce development at our parks.”
Specifically, funding from the National Park Foundation will support staff at The Corps Network that will work directly with National Park Service Regional MATs to identify projects that are appropriate for Corps to complete. These individuals will work in partnership with MATs to develop and implement, guidelines, project selection criteria, and project management processes. Once hired, these NPS Youth Corps Partnership liaisons will visit up to 50 national park units to identify and pre-plan between $5 million and $7 million in projects supported by the Great American Outdoors Act. As of publication, The Corps Network is actively recruiting for the first position to be supported by this initiative.
Priority will be placed on identifying project needs in small and medium parks, which are often found in more urban and densely populated locations. Engaging the Corps in essential projects at these locations will help expand outdoor access and park experiences for communities and provide exposure to park careers for the corps members who will serve on these projects.
Every year, the National Park Service partners with Conservation Corps programs to complete a range of projects at parks across the country. In fiscal year 2021, more than 20 Corps collectively completed over $24 million in work for the National Park Service. Corps assist with trail construction and maintenance, habitat restoration, wildfire fuels management, historic preservation, data collection and mapping, visitor education, and other mission-critical project needs for the National Park Service. Where there are project needs beyond a park’s staff capacity, Conservation Corps offer a way to complete work in a timely and cost-effective manner and provide parks with the opportunity to mentor and work alongside a new generation of aspiring resource management professionals.
This partnership announcement is made in coordination with The Corps Network’s Great Outdoors Day of Service: an annual event in Washington, DC, that brings together Corps and friends of the Corps community for volunteer activities at a national park site. The 2022 event is on June 9 at Fort Dupont Park. The event seeks to raise awareness about the critical role of national service programs and volunteers in maintaining public lands and waters, expanding equitable access to outdoor recreation, and building America’s climate resilience.
The Corps Network
Established in 1985, The Corps Network is the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps. The Corps Network’s membership of more than 140 Corps across the United States annually provides more than 20,000 young adults and veterans the opportunity to develop job skills while serving our country through projects on public lands and in communities. The Corps Network supports Corps through advocacy, providing access to funding and project opportunities, and offering expert guidance in Corps operations and programming. Learn more about The Corps Network at www.corpsnetwork.org.
About the National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation works to protect wildlife and park lands, preserve history and culture, educate, and engage youth, and connect people everywhere to the wonder of parks. We do it in collaboration with the National Park Service, the park partner community, and with the generous support of donors, without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at nationalparks.org.