Monday, August 8, 2011

Ecology Washington Conservation Corps looking for new recruits

By Bridget Mason, WCC Coordinator

WCC Members work at the Reiter Salmon Hatchery in Gold Bar, Wash.

If you’re between 18 and 25 years old, like to work outdoors, and want to help Washington’s environment and our communities, then the Washington Department of Ecology has an opportunity for you!

Our Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) is looking for 245 young adults to fill AmeriCorps crew and individual placement positions in 15 counties across the state. These are great opportunities to enter the environmental field - a college degree and previous work history are not required.

Year commitment, great work experience and money for college
Our WCC AmeriCorps members sign on for a year of service, beginning in October 2011 and ending the following September.

Those who finish a full 12 months of service get:

• Excellent work experience and job skills.
• State minimum wage – currently $8.67 an hour.
• A $5,550 AmeriCorps education award, which can be used for student loans or future tuition expenses.
• Forbearance on qualified student loans while in the WCC.
• Top-notch training including wildland firefighting, wilderness first aid, how to characterize wetlands, oil and hazardous material response, and more!

You can learn more about WCC application requirements, interview schedule and apply for a position online.

More about the Washington Conservation Corps
The WCC started out in 1983 with just three restoration crews. Now we’ve grown to 40 crews and 20 individual placements across the state. Our continued growth shows how much the WCC is valued here in Washington as well as across the country.

In 1994, the WCC received our first federal AmeriCorps grant. This allowed the program to expand our reach to communities throughout Washington and increase the benefits provided to our members. These benefits include an expanded training program, education loan forbearance, and the AmeriCorps Education Award.

Environmental work varies by location
Although projects can vary by location, typical WCC crew work includes:

WCC Member, Janna Sargent, uses a chainsaw to clear downed trees for tornado victims in Yazoo City Mississippi (2010)
• Restoring salmon and related stream-side habitat.
• Installing rain gardens.
• Building trails.
• Planting trees and shrubs.
• Biological monitoring projects.

The WCC crew in Spokane, for instance, will dedicate a large amount of their time this coming year to building cattle-exclusionary fencing. Our crew in the Olympic National Park will focus on trail construction and improvements.

Disaster relief opportunities
When WCC members are not working directly with local organizations, they are called upon for disaster response. In 2011, WCC crews assisted with emergency response efforts in Washington, including flood response in Ellensburg and shelter operations after the White Swan fire near Yakima. Crews also worked to help communities in Alabama and Missouri that suffered extensive tornado damage earlier this spring.

Something new for 2011-12: WCC ‘Puget Sound Corps’
The 2011 Washington Legislature created the WCC “Puget Sound Corps” in partnership with Ecology and the state Department of Natural Resources. The new legislation means new opportunities for WCC crews, including opportunities for veterans, and the possibility of adding more positions before the 2011-2012 service year starts. Specifically, the WCC Puget Sound Corps will increase our presence in communities throughout Puget Sound and support efforts by the Puget Sound Partnership to restore, protect, and preserve the Sound by 2020.

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