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A service corps crew, all in hardhats, walks along an elevated wooden platform through a wood
Program

Service Corps

American YouthWorks Service Corps members at Big Thicket National Preserve
American YouthWorks Service Corps

Introduction

Engaging diverse youth and young adults to address priority projects in parks.

The National Park Foundation (NPF) works with national parks and other partner organizations to engage diverse youth and young adults to serve in teams as they explore future outdoor careers, learn practical field skills, and develop confidence as emerging leaders. Service corps members develop a deep connection to national parks through a variety of activities including building trails, clearing high-use areas, improving wildlife habitat, stream restoration, and historic building preservation.

Service corps offer participants an opportunity to work for several weeks on a professionally supervised team within a national park site to address some of mission critical issues that face the National Park Service. Each year, parks determine their top-priority projects that need to be addressed and work with partner organizations to organize for service corps crews to address these needs. Corps projects include building and restoring trails, removing invasive species and restoring habitats, conducting prescribed burns and fighting wildfires, preserving historic structures, installing fencing and other park infrastructure, planting trees, reclaiming abandoned lots, operating farms and gardens, landscaping and xeriscaping, restoring streams, and more.

A person cuts back overgrowth
By the Numbers
  • $15
    Million Invested
    Since 2018, NPF has invested $15 million to support 180 service corps crews, helping bring together people of different ages, backgrounds, and abilities to accomplish critical projects in parks.
  • 2,157
    Miles of Trail
    Since 2016, NPF has helped NPS to build and maintain 2,157 miles of trails, making them safer and more accessible to park visitors, including hikers, bikers, and equestrians.

Program Highlights

A service corps crew member, wearing a hard hat and sunglasses, carries a large log
Leaders of Color Crew at Mesa Verde National Park

The Leaders of Color crew is an opportunity to promote leadership development in the environmental field for members of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. This initiative supported the critical needs of three parks, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Aztec Ruins National Monument, and Mesa Verde National Park, through backlog trails work and invasive species removal, while fostering a career pathway from service corps to the National Park Service for BIPOC participants.

In the middle of a grassy field, a handful of people wave at a camera
Guardians of the Trail Youth Program at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

The Guardians of the Trail Youth Intern Program is designed to address critical needs within Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Due to several compounding natural disasters in the past few years, many trails in the park have been closed or inaccessible. This project focused on rehabbing these trails, removal of invasive species, and planting native species.

Two service corps members, wearing hard hats, work on stone steps along a rocky trail
Fostering Future Trail Stewards at New River Gorge National Park & Preserve

Like many national park units, both visitation and usage of New River Gorge National Park & Preserve’s trail system has spiked in recent years. This growth has become even more pronounced as many miles of new trails have been installed. The service corps crew addressed top-priority park issues including corridor clearing, tree and vegetation removal, trailhead mowing, signage, drainage and waterbar maintenance, and repairing failed trails structures of stone and timber, including bridges, all providing direct improvement for park visitors.

A group of people paint a one-story building with vibrant red and dark green paint
YouthWork Conservation Corps at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Keweenaw National Historical Park

YouthWork uses a collaborative approach to provide vulnerable young adults ages 16-26+ with hands-on experience as they complete priority projects for various partners, including national parks. The service corps activities completed by YouthWork are mutually beneficial for both the national park sites and the service corps members. This group made significant improvements to these national park sites through recreation projects, accessibility improvements, deferred maintenance, and necessary repair and restoration of national park structures and natural resource assets.

Program Updates

Partners

Thank You
The Service Corps program is made possible thanks to funding from Communities and Workforce supporting partners Carhartt and Winnebago, partners Nature Valley, Apple, American Express, Free People, Publix Super Markets, REI Co-op, and additional generous donors.