SCA’s Response to World Health Regulations
During these uncertain times, many organizations must adapt to a new kind of normal. It is imperative to update our regulations and behaviors as social distancing practices continue to expand. The Student Conservation Association made the decision to cancel all in-person events and monitor programs in response to COVID-19. While operating remotely, our events management team redesigned corporate and community activities held annually in honor of Earth Month. In approximately one month, SCA shifted from hands-on service day events to an entirely Virtual Earth Day initiative. With the help of program alumni, 11 conservation video modules were created and posted on the newly developed Virtual Earth Day web page. Individuals may navigate the various subpages and learn key conservation topics like pollinator habitat restoration, energy reduction, social distance hiking, composting, and more.
Along with the instructional videos and webpages, SCA proudly continues to engage corporate partners in informational and interactive webinars. SCA presented these webinars to employees from Nestle, AllTrails, American Express, and Sustainable Brands community members. Over 100 participants were taught how to support conservation efforts like pollinator wildflower seed ball construction and composting.
The transition to virtual content provided SCA with the opportunity to connect with new corporate partners. Forager Project, a family-owned and operated organic plant-based creamery, supported Earth Day activities through social media awareness posts and engaged their community in a fundraiser to benefit SCA’s programs. Google Earth’s Voyager Project highlighted 12 unique locations where SCA programs improved public land. The project is best viewed in the Google Earth app, but it can also be viewed online here.
SCA’s mission to build the next generation of conservation leaders has not changed. In order to continue to support the growth of our program members, SCA has moved from in-person participation to virtual classrooms and projects. The Massachusetts AmeriCorps program quickly shifted from a residential corps program to an entirely virtual space. Members focus on building key work skills like leadership and safety. They are quickly adapting to Google Classroom to document participation, activities, and assignments. The Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps has transitioned to other means of supporting their community. Members are engaged in mask creation to push back against the current shortage. Letters are written by participants and sent to nursing home community members and other individuals in need of connection and support. The Boston Historic Preservation Corps is supporting agency partners in new ways. While social distancing, members have been working hard to update online databases, transcribe documents and generate virtual tours. In a similar fashion, the SCA Gulf Corps is already completely digital. Members are maintaining 40 participation hours per week. Learning modules are delivered and result in member certification. Guest speakers from conservation industry leaders present to members to develop work skills and highlight career opportunities. SCA’s program leaders have quickly and expertly adapted to the new challenges presented by COVID-19.
With over 60 years of dedicated efforts to conserving our planet and preparing youth to be conscientious stewards, the Student Conservation Assocation continues to adapt and overcome new challenges. We continue to put the safety of staff, members, and the communities we serve above all else. SCA remains focused on our mission, and continues to drive forward through these difficult times.