The Chesapeake Conservation Corps increases access and opportunities to green careers across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The program supports and trains the next generation of stewards in professions that restore and protect our environment and natural resources ensuring a healthy place for all of us to live. In the Corps young adults are provided with hands-on environmental and leadership experience, training, and support network of other young environmentalists. The Corps places individuals (ages 18-25) with nonprofit or government agencies throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed for a one-year term of service.
The Chesapeake Conservation Corps promotes and protects the environment by providing young adults with opportunities to gain career skills and become more engaged through meaningful community service. The Corps was spearheaded by Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller as a way to support and connect the health of the environment with workforce development. It was a win-win during a time the country was recovering from the 2008 recession. Thanks to Senate President Miller, a series of other senators, and many other supporters the Chesapeake Conservation Corps was passed through Maryland legislation and signed by the governor in 2010. The inaugural class included 16 placements across Maryland. Since then the Corps has grown to 30-35 placements across the Chesapeake Bay watershed with a rich variety of offerings to support the growth and professional advancement of young adults entering the environmental field while at the same time protecting and restoring the health of our local environment and the communities who live in it.
The Corps is supported by the State of Maryland, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, U.S. National Park Service, and BGE an Exelon Company.
The Chesapeake Conservation Corps places young adults (18-25) at nonprofit or government agencies to work fulltime leading and supporting projects for a paid one year term of service starting in August. During the course of that year, Corps Members receive:
Learn more about the elements of our approach below.
The Corps program provides real-world experience in 3 ways:
1. Fulltime Position with Organization: Corps Members are placed with a nonprofit or government agency to work fulltime for a year in the environmental field. The positions offered by Host Organizations fall into at least one of the fields of environmental restoration, community engagement, climate change, environmental education, sustainable agriculture, energy conservation, and forestry.
2. Capstone Project: Every Corps Member is required to complete a Capstone Project. The Capstone is selected by the Corps Member with approval from the Host Organization and Chesapeake Bay Trust. The Capstone Project must align with the Corps Member’s professional goals and provide experience and skills that will support the Corps Member in moving forward in their career.
3. Grant Opportunity: The Chesapeake Bay Trust offers a grant opportunity for Corps Members to apply for funds to support their Capstone Project or another project they are leading. The Grant Opportunity provides more flexibility in Capstone Project selection, grant writing experience, and grant management and budget experience.
The Corps program provides leadership and professional development training throughout the year. The Training element ensures Corps Members were not only receiving experience working with an organization, but also building their skills and toolbox to succeed as a professionals and leaders in their career fields. The Corps Trainings are designed to be beneficial to all Corps Members regardless of the career they are pursuing. The training schedule typically includes topics such as:
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Justice
- Chesapeake Watershed Forum Conference
- The Job Search
- Imposter Syndrome
- Self-Care & Boundaries
- And more!
- The number of trainings and topics change each year. This is a general summary of what has been included in the past.
- Host Organizations provide more specialized training opportunities to Corps Members that align with the particular field the Corps Member is pursuing. These include Master Naturalist certifications, attending various conferences, GIS or CAD courses, CPR, wildfire training, pesticide application, the list goes on.
The Chesapeake Bay Trust designed the Corps with a mentorship component. Research shows the significant impact mentors have on increasing an individual’s preparation, confidence, and successful attainment of their goals. Also feedback from the program reveals that a strong relationship with the Mentor is key to the Corps Member having a meaningful service year.
Every Host Organization must assign a Mentor to the Corps Member. This person serves in two capacities:
1.A direct supervisor who develops the work plan, monitors progress, and supports the Corps Member’s in accomplishing their projects throughout the year.
2. A Mentor who guides and supports the Corps Member with developing professional goals, finding connections and opportunities, and actions to strengthen the Corps Member’s experience, skills, and resume to advance in their career path after the Corps.
Through the Corps a support network of young adults entering the environmental field is created. Even though Corps Members are scattered throughout Maryland and even the region the program intentionally connects Corps Members with each other numerous times during the year to build deep and lasting relationships. These include:
1. Trainings: Corps Members come together 6-10 times throughout the year for leadership and professional development trainings. See the Training tab for more detail.
2. All-Hands on Deck: Corps Members come together 4 times throughout the year to accomplish a project led by a fellow Corps Member. The 4 selected project days receive funding from the Trust and allow for a Corps Member to receive the help from the entire Corps cohort to complete one of their projects for their Host Organization.
3. Peer-to-Peer Site Visits: Corps Members visit each other 4-10 times throughout the year to support each other’s work. This element also provides networking with organizations and professionals throughout the region and exposure to a number of activities in the environmental field that may not be a part of a Corps Member’s experience and work with their Host Organization.
4. Corps Pods: Corps Members are separated into subgroups based on geographic proximity. These small groups of Corps Members or pods meet once a month to support one another during their year.
The Corps is designed to support young adults in refining their professional goals, propelling them forward in their careers, and building the foundation to grow into experts, thought-leaders, and change-makers in their respective fields.
If you are interested in applying to the Corps as a participant or host site please see the Apply page.