Announced the enrollees for New York State’s new AmeriCorps environmental education and stewardship program
Albany, NY - January 20, 2016 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the selection of enrollees for New York State’s Excelsior Conservation Corps, a new AmeriCorps environmental education and stewardship program for 18 to 25 year olds. Members enrolled in the program will perform meaningful and lasting environmental projects across New York State while gaining hands on experience and skills in conservation careers.
“The Excelsior Conservation Corps offers a unique opportunity for young New Yorkers to gain valuable skills and training while addressing many of the state’s environmental needs,” Governor Cuomo said. “These members embody New York’s leadership in protecting our environment and I am proud to support this very important program.”
Out of 209 potential applicants, the Excelsior Conservation Corps has enrolled 50 members from diverse backgrounds, including members from a Youth Works program in Albany and two veterans. Representing all ten regions of the state, these participants will undertake over 80 projects, providing services to 19 different Oﬃce of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation sites and 44 Department of Environmental Conservation properties.
DEC projects include Arden Height Woods Trial improvements in Staten Island where members will build decking over exposed roots, I FISH NY Clinics and Outreach in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, where members will assist with in-class lessons and fishing clinics, and developing a history trail at Five Rivers Education Center in Albany County. Members will assist State Parks on a variety of slated projects such as the installation of a 500-kilowatt solar system at Robert Moses State Park, which will make the Suffolk County coastal park the first energy neutral park in the nation. Trail maintenance across multiple state parks and historic sites touching numerous regions is another high priority State Park target for the Environmental Conservation Corps (ECC). Many state parks such as Letchworth State Park in the Finger Lakes, Robert Treman State Park in the Southern Tier and Grafton Lakes State Park in the Capital District each have multiple projects that present greater opportunity for the members to leave a lasting legacy. The 10-month service program will be administered by the Student Conservation Association, a leading national organization in youth and young adult conservation service and environmental programs.
“When Governor Cuomo and our great partners introduced this program in the fall, we knew it would be a special opportunity for young people across the state to get unprecedented hands on experience in environmental stewardship,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “I’m thrilled to see that so many people took interest in the Excelsior Conservation Corps program and I am confident that it will build upon New York’s leadership role in protecting and enhancing the state’s natural resources, while empowering the next generation of conservation leaders.”
The program is funded through $1.9 million in combined state and federal funding, including $1 million from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund, New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation and the State University of New York. The New York State Commission on National and Community Service, in partnership with the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, has also committed $850,000 of AmeriCorps funding to the program. Additional funding will be secured by the Student Conservation Association through sponsorships and private donations.
Excelsior Conservation Corps Activities & Training
Under the supervision of the Student Conservation Association, program members will assist state agencies including DEC, State Parks, the Environmental Facilities Corporation and State University of New York in open space management; natural resource stewardship; infrastructure and sustainability improvements; recreation and access mapping; and environmental education and outreach at state campgrounds and nature centers. Specific projects will include water improvement projects, safety enhancements on trails and campsites, tidal marsh restoration, invasive species removal and climate change resiliency measures. In addition to environmental stewardship work, members will undergo disaster and volunteer management training to help communities impacted by extreme weather and serve as volunteer leaders during major storm events.