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Chesapeake Conservation Corps Class of 2015 Gets to Work Today

PHOTO: The new Chesapeake Conservation Corps class will be announced Tuesday, and is set to include 32 people ages 18 to 25 who will spend a year volunteering on projects that benefit the bay. Photo credit: Chesapeake Bay Trust.
PHOTO: The new Chesapeake Conservation Corps class will be announced Tuesday, and is set to include 32 people ages 18 to 25 who will spend a year volunteering on projects that benefit the bay. Photo credit: Chesapeake Bay Trust.
August 26, 2014

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - At least 32 young people are ready to get to work Tuesday to serve as yearlong volunteers with the 2015 Chesapeake Conservation Corps program.

More than 100 students had applied for positions with organizations that work on environmental projects benefitting the health of Chesapeake Bay, from getting their hands and feet muddy on restoration projects to teaching in school classrooms.

Chesapeake Bay Trust executive director Jana Davis says the experience is coveted, whether participants recently graduated from high school or college.

"It's a program that provides professional-development experience, as well as an opportunity to spend a year really delving into a project, or a suite of projects, that help them set up their career for the future," says Davis.

The Chesapeake Trust administers the program, which was created by the Legislature five years ago. Young people ages 18 to 25 can apply to the program, and volunteers receive a stipend and health insurance.

Davis says up to 50 percent of Corps participants are hired by their host organizations when their volunteer commitment is completed. Others move into positions within the environmental field for nonprofits, state governments, and county governments.

"When they come to these positions, they come with incredible training and an incredible breadth of knowledge most other young people don't have," she says.

While most of the corps will serve in Maryland, the project has been expanded this year to Washington, D.C., thanks to funding from the Environmental Protection Agency. Davis says the goal is to keep expanding to other states with connections to the bay.

Additional funding comes from the state of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arlington Echo and Environmental Concern.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD