Lopez Island Conservation Corps leader, Josh Cook (3rd from left), accepts Take Pride in America Award from Deputy Secretary of the Interior, David Hayes (left). Joining them are BLM Wild and Scenic River Specialist, Joe Ashor, and Lisa Young, Executive Director of Take Pride in America.
Members of award-winning Lopez Island Conservation Corps repair a BLM campsite on remote Patos Island.
A member of the Lopez Island Conservation Corps tackles invasive sweetbriar.
The Lopez Island Youth Conservation Corps (LICC) has been named the Outstanding Youth Volunteer Group for 2008 by Take Pride in America, a national partnership program aimed at increasing volunteer service on America’s public lands. Josh Cook, who started the group as part of an Eagle Scout project, recently accepted the award at the annual Take Pride in America awards ceremony in Washington, DC. Created only three years ago in Washington State’s San Juan Islands, the LICC harnesses the power and enthusiasm of youth while engaging in sustainable community partnerships to encourage healthy choices, appreciation for nature, personal development, environmental education, and exposure to natural resource protection and careers. Consisting of individuals from 14-18 years old, the group has logged more than 800 hours of service over the course of many events. In the summer of 2008 alone, the group maintained more than five miles of trails in remote island settings and helped to improve habitats by protecting native plants and removing litter and plastics from areas where marine mammals and waterfowl live.
With the involvement of the local rural community, the youth benefits from positive teamwork and a collective sense of ownership of the land. The LICC serves as a nexus for local organizations to work together toward providing youth with opportunities to effect real change. Bringing together senior centers, food stores, area Parks Departments, and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as local volunteers and families, LICC is not just motivating youth. It is rallying an entire rural community into finding value in a new organization that protects their local environment. The LICC demonstrates that even small groups of highly dedicated volunteers can make a huge impact.