Conservation Legacy History
Above photo: Conservation Legacy Staff at All Staff Gathering 2019
Heirs to the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps, today’s corps are research-validated programs that give primarily disadvantaged young men and women the chance to change their communities, their own lives, and those of their families through service.
Conservation Legacy encompasses the history of the Southwest Youth Corps (SYC,established 1998 in Durango, CO) and the Youth Corps of Southern Arizona (YCOSA, established 2000 in Tucson, AZ) and the Southwest Conservation Corps.
SCC was formed in 2006 through the merger of these two agencies. The new organization retained the incorporation of the SYC, but merged the Boards, staff and programs of the two organizations and operated out of two main offices. In 2007 SCC re-organized internal systems to allow for multiple sites spread across the Southwest by revamping its by-laws, creating an Executive Board/Regional Board structure and creating a Headquarters staff/regional staff structure. In 2008, SCC established its Los Valles office as a permanent office serving Colorado’s San Luis and Upper Arkansas Valleys, engaging ever greater numbers of young people in public service. In 2013 SCC added two more regional offices in Chatanooga, TN and Flagstaff, AZ. In 2014, Conservation Legacy was created to provide central support to the these regional offices operating under the same umbrella.
Conservation Legacy is among the nation’s fastest growing conservation corps and currently operates twelve year-round offices in Colorado, New Mexico, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia and Arizona.
Conservation Legacy programs focus on providing paid service opportunities for youth, young adults, and beyond. This represents, for many, their very first job with public lands; and it provides a natural learning environment to gain the skills for future job success: punctuality, attendance, team work, character building, communication, conflict resolution, decision making and problem solving. Corpsmembers also attain the concrete technical skills needed to complete on-the-ground conservation projects: trail construction and maintenance, tool use, outdoor living skills and rudimentary certifications such as first aid. Still, Conservation Legacy has recognized a need to do more to prepare young people for the challenges they face, and is proposing a capacity-building initiative aimed at formalizing and enlarging the youth development portions of its programs. The best way to help young people realize their potential is to facilitate their ability to help themselves.