February 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 31

plete varies from place to place.
Corps partner with local government, nonprofits and park agencies to complete projects that are
relevant. In New Orleans, Poole
has participated in projects ranging from cleaning up a brownfield
site, to conducting wildlife population surveys, to building boardwalks and treating invasive species.
Young people in other parts of the
country have different project responsibilities.
In Los Angeles, the LA Conservation Corps (lacorps.org) partnered with city park managers to
engage corps participants - or
" corpsmembers " - in transforming an illegal dumping ground into
an ADA-accessible path with native plants and exercise equipment
(tinyurl.com/vm5dssn). In Syracuse, New York, Onondaga Earth
Corps (onondagaearthcorps.org)
works with local agencies to engage
young people in tree planting, park
beautification and installing rain
gardens. In Baltimore, corpsmembers with Civic Works (civicworks.
com) manage an urban farm, install resource-efficient retrofits in
low-income homes and lead volunteers in turning abandoned lots into
parks and gardens. In 2018, corpsmembers across the United States
collectively restored more than 1.4
million acres of habitat, constructed or improved more than 10,700
community spaces, and built or repaired nearly 14,000 miles of trails
(tinyurl.com/ww92zaf).
Through their service, corpsmembers gain hands-on job experience
and interact with professionals at
park agencies. They also earn certifications related to their projects.
For example, corpsmembers might
become certified in pesticide appli-

cation, wilderness first aid or chainsaw operation. During their term
of service, which could last a few
months to a year or more, corpsmembers earn a stipend. In some
corps, participants also have the
chance to earn an AmeriCorps Education Award (tinyurl.com/r2dr9lj).

The Next Generation of
Corpsmembers
Growing up in a city, Poole had
limited outdoor experience before
becoming an AmeriCorps member with Limitless Vistas. Her job
experience was from working as a
hostess at a restaurant. Encouraged
by her brother, also a corpsmember, she joined the program to try
something new, build her résumé
and save money for school. This is
not uncommon.
The young people who serve
in corps represent different abilities, life circumstances and ethnic,
cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. In 2018, roughly half of
all corpsmembers identified as a
person of color, about 30 percent
were low income and about 43
percent were women. Some young
people join a corps with the goal of
building skills toward a career in
resource management or outdoor
recreation. Others join to earn money and find a fresh start. For some
corpsmembers, their service might
expose them to their first experience
camping, hiking or boating.
No matter their motivations or
where they serve, all corpsmembers develop skills in leadership
and problem-solving. Corpsmembers typically serve in crews with
up to 10 young people; this necessitates learning how to communicate, resolve conflicts and work
well with others.

Helping maintain our parks,
lands and waters also helps corpsmembers develop or deepen an appreciation for the outdoors. Serving in a corps is not for everyone,
but experiencing the satisfaction of
a hard day's work at a park can be
transformative.
" We faced strenuous physical
challenges. Tree clearing is especially tiring, " admits Poole.
" You and your crew have to wade
through muddy water with fire
rakes, an ice cooler, weed whackers, backpacks and all your personal protective equipment. Our
work was hard, but we learned to
rely on each other and build each
other up. "
Poole's hard work paid off. She
was honored as one of The Corps
Network's 2019 Corpsmembers of
the Year, giving her the chance to
travel to Washington, D.C. During
her visit to the nation's capital, she
had the chance to meet Louisiana
Senator Bill Cassidy, whose office
invited her to intern in D.C. After spending an exciting summer
on Capitol Hill, Poole returned to
New Orleans to continue giving
back to the land and water.
She is now a crew leader at
Limitless Vistas, participating in
GulfCorps, a multi-corps partnership to engage local young people
from Texas to Florida in restoring
Gulf Coast ecosystems. Every day,
Poole guides other young people in
maintaining the parks and habitats
of the Louisiana coast and bayous.
Across the country, corps empower thousands of young people, like
Poole, to pursue a career and a lifestyle focused on stewardship of our
lands and communities.
Hannah Traverse is Communications Manager at
The Corps Network (htraverse@corpsnetwork.org).

W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G | F E B R U A RY 2 02 0 |

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February 2020 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of February 2020 - Parks & Recreation

February 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 1
February 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 2
February 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 3
February 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 4
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2021
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