This year’s The Corps Network conference recognized two SCA alumni that have made significant contributions to the conservation community and have demonstrated outstanding leadership skills. Chicago’s Luis Cabrales (pictured left) was recognized as one of six Corpmembers of the Year and Jim Ziolkowski (pictured right) of the National Park Service was presented with the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award.
February 17, 2020 •
Luis Cabrales first learned of SCA in 2015 when his high school class volunteered at Whistler Woods, part of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, on Chicago’s South Side. He quickly signed on to join an SCA summer crew, honing his leadership skills, acquiring work experience, and, in his words, ”becoming more aware of what it means to be part of a cause bigger than myself.” He returned in 2017 as apprentice crew leader, and recently completed a hitch with an SCA weekend tree-planting team.
For Luis, the exposure to such an elaborate system of natural areas as well as a vast network of individuals, organizations, and governmental bodies working to preserve and promote these vital resources was both new and energizing. In addition to sharing his knowledge as a crew leader with other Chicagoland teenagers, he began to mobilize his peers for social and environmental justice. A senior at the University of Illinois Chicago, he is co-founder of the Southeast Youth Alliance, grassroots community organization, which he is presently seeking to establish as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
For someone intent on “making change” in his community, Luis is off to an extraordinary start and SCA is humbled to be part of it. In recognizing Luis and other award winners, The Corps Network President Mary Ellen Sprenkel said “the Corpsmembers of the Year are role models who earnestly invest their time and energy in service and civic engagement. They are an inspiration.”
Jim Ziolkowski first discovered SCA on a bulletin board while attending the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He landed a job at Mount Rainier which ultimately led him to his career at the park working for the National Park Service. In his current role supervising the park’s roads, trails and auto shop, Jim is a tireless advocate for Corps. He regularly uses his budget to find ways to engage several different 21CSC organizations, including SCA.
“I’ve always felt that the youth organizations reach a different audience than we can, and on top of that, I’d say they’re much better at preparing young folks who have never been in this environment or have done this kind of work.” Jim’s continued efforts to champion programs that connect youth to conservation work demonstrate the impact of participating in opportunities at SCA and other organizations.
We congratulate both Luis and Jim on these recognitions and are proud of their conservation efforts representing SCA and beyond.