Conservation as a Human Endeavor
Across the country there are hundreds of young adults dedicating anywhere from three months to a year to work in conservation. Conservation corps originated in 1933 with the Civilian Conservation Corps as a part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. The CCC operated until 1942 as a skills training program for unemployed, unmarried men during the Great Depression. The program trained these men in environmental restorations skills. The CCC planted more than three billion trees and constructed trails and shelters in more than 800 parks nationwide during its nine years of existence. Much of this work has shaped and impacted the public lands that millions of people visit each year.
While most conservation corps are state specific the American Conservation Experience (ACE) has the unusual opportunity to work across the country through their four different branches in Utah, California, North Carolina and Arizona. ACE works in partnership with the National Parks Service, US Forest Service, the Corps Network, Americorps, Bureau of Land Management and many other land management agencies. The mission of ACE is to train young adults in practical restoration projects. This ranges from trail building and maintenance to habitat restoration and forestry. These skills allow corps members to move forward in careers in conservation whether that be moving up in ACE or working with one of ACE's many project partners.
Leaders in Conservation
“At the end of the day you’re physically and mentally exhausted but you can look back at the work you completed and feel satisfied that you’ve shaped the land that thousands of people appreciate and enjoy” - Emily Merlo
Volunteers in Conservation
"It's nice to be away from home and put into a group of people you might not typically find yourself around and I think that has changed me for the better" - Jesse Wherry
Each person that comes to ACE to volunteer is typically looking at a three to six month time commitment. During their commitment the corps members go out on project for eight days at a time. While on project the crews work ten hours a day while camping in the wilderness. Typically the crews have eight people including a crew leader. The crews switch out each week but during those eight days, often without cell phone service, the crews bond closely during the work day and at camp.
More Volunteer Experiences Below
Interns in Conservation
" It is really exciting to share the joy of being at the high peaks with someone who has never seen a condor and has traveled across the world specifically just to see the condor and just being there and helping them to identify it and share in their experience" - Kyle Tibor
During 2017, ACE continued its long term partnership with Pinnacles National Park in California with monitoring and protecting the endangered California condor. ACE EPIC interns directly assisted NPS wildlife biologists with the California condor recovery efforts by tracking, monitoring, and recording wild condor movements, behaviors, and interactions in throughout the park's front and backcountry areas through radio telemetry as well as observing and recording feeding and breeding behaviors and speaking with the public and local community members regarding the species and its recovery.
Pinnacles National Park is responsible for the management of 40 of the 230 condor birds that exists in the wild. In addition to wildlife management and monitoring, ACE EPIC interns assisted with habitat restoration projects to restore and enhance habitat for condors throughout the park.
The Phoenix Field School
"There was a time when I was homeless which was when I started living with my friend Sam while he was going through this program. Everything that he was doing was what I could only dream of doing". - Bella Sarno
Phoenix Field School, an intensive 16-week program dedicated to providing opportunities for urban Phoenix youth (ages 18-24) to gain meaningful, hands-on conservation experience completing a variety of field-based projects and trainings. The Field School is a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management, Phoenix District Office, ACE, Phoenix College and Arizona Call-a-Teen Youth Resources. While building job skills in the conservation field, Field School members also earn college credit, earn industry-recognized certifications, and make a substantial impact on the conservation of Arizona Public Lands.
Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial State Park
"It's not everyday that you build a trail with that much meaning and that much power behind it. For me it was the kind of project that no matter how much time and effort it took to get the project done right, it was easy to do that".- Mark Loseth
In 2016 ACE had the honor of partnering with Arizona State Parks to construct 3.5 miles of new trail in memory of the 19 hotshot firefighters who lost their lives in the Yarnell Hill Fire of 2013. The Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial State Park is now open to hikers to walk the trail to the memorial and fatality site and to learn about wild fire prevention and the events of the Yarnell Hill Fire.