First Class Of The Chesapeake Conservation Corps Graduates

| November 16, 2011 | 0 Comments

Last week marked the graduation date for the 16 talented young individuals who were a part of the inaugural class of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. This leadership program, established by the Maryland Legislature in 2010 and managed by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, matches young people, ages 18-25, with organizations throughout the state for paid, one-year terms of service. In its inaugural year, 16 Corps volunteers worked on a variety of environmental initiatives including energy efficiency programs, restoration activities and neighborhood clean-ups, water quality monitoring programs, reforestation projects and job training programs for youth. Now, we say goodbye to this year’s class with key Maryland leaders addressing them on their future and that of the Chesapeake Bay.

“Each young person who participated in this program epitomizes the future of Maryland; bright, ambitious individuals who are committed to improving our environment and the Chesapeake Bay, as they gain vital workforce skills, educational opportunities and leadership training,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, the lead sponsor of the legislation that created this initiative. “I am incredibly pleased by the talented pool of individuals who are graduating today, and I look forward to the program’s continued success as we move forward with future classes.”

The Corps volunteers were chosen through a competitive process to serve for one year at various watershed organizations, local governments and other community-based organizations throughout Maryland. The program has been funded by both the State of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay Trust, with a generous contribution provided by Constellation Energy. The second class of the Conservation Corps was announced a little over a month ago, and due to the success of this inaugural year, has expanded to 21 participants. Notably, 40 percent of the first class has been offered newly-created full time positions at their host organizations, which illustrates that the program not only creates employment opportunities but also increases the capacity of participating organizations to further their environmental missions.

“The Trust is honored to manage the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, which we believe not only advances Bay restoration and community stewardship, but also transitions a new generation into the emerging green economy,” said Allen Hance, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “The fact that 40 percent of participating organizations created new employment positions to retain Corps participants beyond the first year speaks volumes to the program’s potential and early success.”

During the celebratory luncheon, the 16 Corps volunteers, their host organizations and their families were joined by Senate President Mike Miller, Senator John Astle, Delegate Shane Robinson, Maryland Department of National Resources Deputy Secretary Joseph Gill, and Eric Backes, legislative director for Senator Katherine Klausmeier. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Michael Heller gave a talk on the future of the Chesapeake Bay and the vital role the next generation will play in restoring this great American estuary.

“I would not be where I am today without having been a part of the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Chesapeake Conservation Corps Program,” said Jennifer Carr, program participant with the South River Federation. “During my time with the Conservation Corps, I learned an incredible amount through hands-on job training I might not have experienced otherwise and I am thrilled to have been hired full-time to help the South River Federation protect of one of the Chesapeake Bay’s greatest tributaries.”

2011 Graduates include: Lisa Baird, Nanticoke Watershed Alliance; Katie Beechem, Baltimore County Department of Protection and Resource Management; Jennifer Carr-Pilhoski, South River Federation; Amy Dewan, Parks and People Foundation; Ari Engelberg, HandsOn Frederick; Tyler Harshman, Frederick County Office of Environmental Sustainability; Maria Harwood, National Aquarium in Baltimore; Colleen Higgins, Alice Ferguson Foundation; Lori Johnson, Anacostia Watershed Society; Maura Kathan, Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education; Catherine Kirkstan, Accokeek Foundation; William Mahoney, Maryland Coastal Bays Program; Megan McCubbin, Reservoir Hill Improvement Council; Elliott Wright, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Civic Justice Program; Carmera Thomas, Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Megan Wickless, Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center

 

 

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