Youth Conservation Corps are the great-grandchildren of the Civilian Conservation Corps. When World War II put an end to the CCC in 1942, the concept of paying young men to improve their environment went into hibernation until the 1970s.
In 1976, the state of California stepped up to the plate and founded the California Conservation Corps. Six years later, the first local conservation corps, the Marin County Youth Corps, was founded.
The fledging youth corps movement was aided by several noteworthy national efforts. In 1990, President George Bush Sr. signed the National Service Act which made $25 million available to service and conservation corps across the country.
Not to be outdone, President Bill Clinton gave a shot in the arm to the youth corps movement when he signed a similar piece of legislation in 1995. The National Community and Service Trust Act provided competitive funding to state and local youth conservation corps. This piece of legislation also allowed local corps to compete for Americorp Education Awards which provide the $1,000 scholarships for the Southeast Youth Conservation Corps.
Growing from fewer than 50 youth corps 30 years ago, there are now more than 100 youth corps among the 32 participating states. These corps employ more than 23,000 young men and women working to improve their environment and communities.
A national organization, the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, provides training, support, technical assistance and a yearly conference for youth corps across the country as well as serving as the gateway to the Americorp Education Award Program for member organizations.
The NASCC is working with a number of U.S. senators and representatives to introduce a bill next year for federal funding of youth corps.
Information supplied by the Missouri Department of Conservation