The Maryland Department of Natural Resources honored 29 members of the 2020-2021 Maryland Conservation Corps during their graduation program on August 5. The ceremony commemorated the members’ completion of 10 months of job training, conservation work, and stewardship with the Maryland Park Service.
Members from across the country, all between the ages of 17 and 25, completed 1,700 hours of service. This year’s crews planted thousands of trees, bay grasses and native plants; treated trees against harmful insects and diseases; and taught environmental education programs to more than 7,915 students, youth, and park visitors.
“This year’s theme is Building Tomorrow’s Leaders, but you have already demonstrated the traits of a leader today,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said in remarks to the graduates. “On behalf of our entire department, I want to sincerely thank you for your contributions toward our mission of preserving, protecting, restoring, and enhancing Maryland’s natural resources.”
The corps worked to improve more than 338 miles of trails and waterways and 2,940 acres of park and public land around the state by removing invasive species, improving outdoor recreational facilities and trails, and restoring wildlife habitat.
“The Maryland Conservation Corps provides young adults with a meaningful opportunity to gain experience in environmental science and natural resource conservation,” Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina said. “From aquatic systems and public lands management, the program offers hands-on, real-world experience in a team-based environment that supports community service and conservation stewardship.”
Many alumni of the program have gone on to conservation careers with organizations including the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the National Aquarium, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and many others.
The Maryland Conservation Corps, an award-winning AmeriCorps program, has been managed by the Maryland Park Service since 1984.