The Corps Network – providing opportunities for young adults and veterans to make a difference

BLM Arizona recently had the valuable opportunity to participate in The Corps Network 2023 Conference. The Corps Network, the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, provides young adults and veterans with the opportunity to serve our country through projects on public lands and in rural and urban communities. This year’s conference highlighted the amazing Corps partners and Corps members who not only help us, as federal land managers, accomplish the work we do on public and Tribal lands, but also transform communities and individual lives.  

group of people standing in a conference room facing the camera
From left: Michael Brown, BLM HQ youth lead; Tom Heinlein, acting assistant director, HQ-400; Maya Fuller, BLM-OR/WA youth lead; Leigh Karp, BLM-CA youth lead; Jamie Tompkins, MT/DK youth lead; Brooke Wheeler, BLM-AZ youth lead; and John Duwe, park ranger, Medford Ashland Resource Area.

The event was a chance to meet and interact with some Corps members of the year who were truly inspiring. Many of them come from underserved and under-resourced communities who entered Corps service as solely a source of income, but instead found the work meaningful and transformative. They often spoke of their aspirations to become park rangers, archaeologists, firefighters, wildlife biologists, and conservationists. The members gained experience while also working on various climate change-related projects such as loss of wetlands and water shortages in Indigenous communities.   

Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, standing at a lectern with a small banner hanging from it which says the Corps Network
Secretary Haaland at the Corps Network 2023 conference.

As attendees, we were also privileged to have the opportunity to connect with the Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland. She highlighted the importance of the Indian Youth Service Corps as a valuable program to empower Indigenous youth and address climate change in our native communities. Along with George McDonald, DOI acting youth engagement coordinator, Secretary Haaland mentioned the BLM as one of the key agencies that will be pivotal in carrying out Bipartisan Infrastructure Law projects with the assistance of our Conservation Corps partners. The Secretary impressed us with her commitment to environmental protection as well as her advocacy for Tribal youth. In fact, she is not only an advocate, but also a mentor and role model for the next generation in Indigenous communities.  

Panel of speakers facing an audience seated at tables
A Corps Network Conference panel with Michael Brown, BLM-HQ youth lead.

Partnerships are the heart of how we as federal land management agencies achieve our goals and priorities, connect with the communities we serve, and empower the next generation of conservationists and environmental stewards. Thank you, Corps Network, for the work you do and the lives you change! 

Brooke Wheeler, Management and Program Analyst/BLM Arizona State Youth, Partnership, and Service Lead

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