The Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior on Thursday announced that Chattanooga's Southeast Youth Corps is one of 91 initial organizations nationwide that have been approved as member organizations to help implement the Obama Administration’s 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. The 21CSC is a national collaborative effort to put America’s youth and veterans aged 15 to 35 to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s natural and cultural resources.
“We are thrilled that SYC has been selected for membership to the 21CSC, and look forward to growing our capacity to engage local youth and young adults in conservation service,” said Program Director Brenna Kelly.
SYC was established in Chattanooga in 2012 as a way to provide local young women and men with structured, safe, and challenging service and educational opportunities through projects that promote personal growth, the development of social skills, and an ethic of natural resource stewardship. SYC operates a variety of corps programs that engage local youth and young adults aged 16 to 25 years old. In 2014, SYC plans to expand its summer Youth Conservation Corps program, which employs 16 to 18 year olds from the Chattanooga area, and begin introducing AmeriCorps crews of adults aged 18-25 to address a variety of conservation needs both locally and regionally. This past summer the YCC provided summer employment to eight teenagers from surrounding high schools to work in the Cherokee National Forest maintaining hiking trails while camping and living in wilderness areas.
All 21CSC participants gain skills, and deliver results that include enhancing recreational opportunities and access, protecting wildlife, restoring impaired watersheds, removing invasive species, increasing energy efficiency, preserving historic or cultural sites, enhancing community spaces, coordinating volunteers, supporting monitoring or data needs, responding to natural disasters, reducing hazardous fuels and protecting communities from wildfire.
Increasing diversity and expanding opportunities for all youth and veterans are core 21CSC principles: all 21CSC member organizations emphasize diversity and inclusion, and the 21CSC National Council will focus in the coming months on recruiting additional member organizations, targeting new programs in diverse areas, and investing in training and career pathways for a diverse group of participants.
The 21CSC is supported by the federal 21CSC National Council, which includes members from USDA, DOI, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA, the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Council on Environmental Quality, and by the Partnership for the 21CSC, which was launched in June of 2013 as a collaborative group to support the 21CSC.
The mission of SYC is to train and educate the youth of Chattanooga, while conserving and protecting the natural environment. For information on their programs and projects, contact them at 423 664-2344 or visit its website at www.southeastyc.org/.