This week the Trust celebrated the incoming and outgoing Chesapeake Conservation Corps classes with the annual “Passing of the Golden Shovel” ceremony, a focal point of a day of celebration and training held at YMCA’s Camp Letts in Edgewater, Md. At the event, the 38 2018-2019 Corps participants met their host organizations to learn more about their job responsibilities for the upcoming year. The ceremony also served as a graduation for the 42 members of the outgoing Corps class who wrapped up their year of service this month. The day’s guest speakers included Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.; Senator John Astle; Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles; John Quinn, Director of Governmental and External Affairs, BGE; Ernestine White, National Youth Employment Programs Coordinator, National Park Service; and Trust Board Chair Ben Wechsler.
The Chesapeake Conservation Corps is a green jobs program created by the Maryland Legislature to educate and train the next generation of environmental stewards. The program matches young people ages 18-25 with nonprofit and government organizations for paid, one-year terms of service, focused on improving local communities and protecting natural resources.
During their year of service, Chesapeake Conservation Corps members gain valuable on-the-job experience as they work to advance environmental conservation, K-12 education, energy efficiency programs, sustainable agriculture practices, and a host of other environmentally-focused initiatives.
“The Chesapeake Conservation Corps’ impact on our communities and our environment multiplies with each new class of Corps members,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., the initiator of the program in 2010. “We have reached a point where members of the Corps’ first classes are now leaders in environmental organizations throughout our region. I am proud of the investment we are making in them and the future of the green economy in our state.”
The program has a consistent track record of placing graduates in full-time positions upon completion of the program, with many Corps members in each graduating class hired directly by their host organizations, often into brand new positions.
“Since its creation, the Chesapeake Conservation Corps has been a launching pad for environmental careers throughout our state,” said Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton. “It is vital that we continue to grow our green workforce through programs like this. The work that these young people are undertaking and the issues they are trying to address are critical to the health and future of our environment and natural resources. The department has been fortunate to host a number of bright and talented Corps members over the years. We have seen firsthand that the training they receive is top-notch and their energy and enthusiasm is boundless.”
The program has become more popular with potential host organizations each year since its initiation in 2010 because of the quality of the young people who serve. Three times as many host organizations seek Corps members than resources can support. The Corps members’ stipends are supported by the Chesapeake Bay Trust (and the Bay Plate license plate program) and their partners, providing host organizations with added capacity at little added cost.
Partner funders include the State of Maryland, BGE an Exelon Company, and the U.S. National Park Service. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Adkins Arboretum, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of the Environment, South River Federation, and Maryland Coastal Bays Program also contributed matching funds for the program this year.
“The National Park Service is proud to once again be supporting the Chesapeake Conservation Corps,” said George McDonald, U.S. National Park Service Youth Programs Manager. “These young people are embarking on a truly unique career-building experience that will ultimately benefit all of us as they learn and teach others the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation.”
“BGE has been a proud supporter of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps for many years because we care about the health of our communities and our natural resources,” said John Quinn of BGE, a key funder of the program. “We understand the importance of developing leaders who value our natural resources and have the experience and perspective to be good stewards. The Corps program prepares young people to enter the workforce in all sectors: nonprofit, government, and corporate as well.”
During the course of the year, Corps participants work directly with their host organizations, receive extensive job trainings hosted by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and gain experience in grant writing and project management through a capstone project.
“Continuing the progress that has been made in restoring the health of the Chesapeake depends on educating and training the next generation of environmental leaders,” said Jana Davis, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “The Chesapeake Conservation Corps prepares young people with the skills and experience that are needed to keep the momentum going.”
The 2018-2019 Chesapeake Conservation Corps class includes the following individuals and their host organizations:
- Travis Anthony, National Aquarium, Baltimore City
- Michael Bowman, U.S. National Park Service, Anne Arundel County
- Kaila Cavanaugh, Accokeek Foundation, Prince George’s County
- Emily Castle, Adkins Arboretum, Caroline County
- Evan Claggett, Environmental Concern, Talbot County
- Megan Davis, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Biological Stream Survey, Anne Arundel County
- Jennifer Duvall, Patapsco Heritage Greenway, Howard County
- Brianna Fragata, Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Worcester County
- Leah Franzluebbers, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Anne Arundel County
- Brittany Furlong, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Biological Stream Survey, Anne Arundel County
- Justin Gallardo, Uptown Metro Ministry Group, Baltimore City
- Sarah Grossweiler, Maryland Department of the Environment, Baltimore City
- Thomas Heffernan, Living Classrooms Foundation, Baltimore City
- Lucy Heller, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Anne Arundel County
- Kelly Johnson, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Anne Arundel County
- Andrew Jones, Town of Edmonston, Prince George’s County
- Shayna Keller, South River Federation, Anne Arundel County
- Jay Kinnaman, Maryland Environmental Service, Anne Arundel County
- Alexander Kirchhof, Mayor and City Council of Cumberland, Allegany County
- Amy Kochel, Susquehanna Heritage Corporation, Pennsylvania
- Connor Liu, The Nature Conservancy, Allegany County
- Jamie Mancini, Sultana Education Foundation, Kent County
- Rory Maymon, Maryland Department of the Environment , Baltimore City
- Syler Merski, Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Calvert County
- Jesus Munoz Buenrostro, Southeast Community Development Corporation, Baltimore City
- Kelly Peaks, University of Maryland, Environmental Finance Center, Prince George’s County
- Rachel Plescha, ShoreRivers, Talbot County
- Arianna Russo, Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Worcester County
- Marissa Sayers, Central Baltimore Partnership, Baltimore City
- Cheyenne Sebold, C&O Canal Trust, Washington County
- Dominic Serino, Audubon Maryland-DC, Baltimore City
- Justin Shapiro, National Wildlife Federation, Anne Arundel County
- Nathaniel Simmons, Adkins Arboretum, Caroline County
- Bradley Simpson, Audubon Naturalist Society, Montgomery County
- Alexa Stillwell, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Anne Arundel County
- Thomas Urban, Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks, Howard County
- Tanisha Washington, Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Baltimore City
- Olivia Wisner, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (CBNERR), Anne Arundel County