Youth Corps - Making History Today
Young people throughout the country are gaining valuable work experience and furthering their education in the “real world” through project-based work and internship programs on BLM lands. Projects can range from a few weeks to a year or more and can involve trail-building, habitat restoration, or environmental education—to name just a few.
Numerous organizations work with BLM to coordinate project-based work and internship programs. You might be able to earn college credit or tuition benefits. You might earn a wage or have your living expenses covered. The rewards of working on public lands can be fantastic and life-changing! To find out about opportunities that match your interests, check out the resources listed here:
The Corps Network
Student Conservation Association
Chicago Botanic Garden’s Conservation and Land Management Intern Program
These represent just a few of the organizations that help coordinate youth corps projects and internships on BLM lands. If you represent a local corps and are interested in working with BLM in your area, check the BLM home page (www.blm.gov) for contact information in your state. The state’s Volunteer Coordinator or Youth Programs Lead can assist you.
Many young people are getting involved in projects being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. ARRA-funded projects will restore landscapes and habitat, spur renewable energy development on public lands, and create jobs. To find out more about BLM’s ARRA projects, click here.
Youth Corps—A Little History
The Youth Corps movement began during the Great Depression as a way of providing temporary jobs for unemployed young men. As members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, some 3 million men between the ages of 18 and 25 lived in residential camps and engaged in construction projects throughout the country. The National Youth Administration, a non-residential program, involved more than 5 million young men and women in work projects and service opportunities from 1935-1943. The need for Corps-type programs was greatly reduced during World War II, when many young men and women were involved in the war effort through military service or war-related industries.
It wasn’t until the creation of the Peace Corps and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) in the 1960s that the concept of national civilian service re-emerged. Since that time, various Federal laws have shaped and guided national and community service programs, including Youth Corps programs. In 2009, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar committed the U.S. Department of the Interior to creating a 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps, which “will engage thousands of young men and women in all states and territories, from diverse backgrounds, including tribal and underserved populations and those who have little opportunity to experience the outdoors.” If you are interested in making “a little history” in the 21st century, please check some of the resources on this page.