NPS Staff and Interns Learn, Engage, and Connect at The Corps Network's Annual Conference

Group photo of individuals at a conference
Mary Ellen Sprenkel (President and CEO of The Corps Network) with a group of DOI members from NPS (Claire Finn, George McDonald, Ernestine White, and Lucy Hurlbut), U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management at The Corps Network 2023 Conference

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From March 7-9, 2023, the National Park Service Youth Programs Division, along with several regional youth and volunteer program managers park staff, and interns attended The Corps Network’s annual National Conference in-person. The conference included informative workshops, inspiring plenary sessions, and networking opportunities.

The Corps Network’s annual National Conference brought together more than 300 attendees from across the country who seek to build stronger communities and create a sustainable future. Topics from the conference included discussing how we can empower and support today’s youth, prepare our young people for in-demand careers, and maximize the impact of national service in addressing climate change and advancing equity.
8 individuals sit around a circular table during lunchtime. They are dressed in business casual clothing.
NPS colleagues in attendance smile during a lunch

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Over the three days, the National Park Service hosted and participated in various sessions. The NPS Financial Assistance team provided updates, forecast trends, and changes taking place in the near future. The Northeast Region and National Capitol Region teamed up for a workshop session, as well as the Alaska Region and Pacific West Region on topics related to resource sharing, participant compensation, careers after serving in a corps, and recruitment. George McDonald, the Chief of the Youth Programs Division, discussed the work the NPS does related to youth and young adult programs and how the additional funds from the Inflation Reduction Act will help to support these programs around conservation, restoration, and climate change resiliency. Other team members (Ernestine White, Ben Baldwin, and Lucy Hurlbut) from the Youth Programs Division shared a bit about the new Youth Partner Portal, the Maintenance Action Team projects, and the power of storytelling for helping to promote these programs on social media, in articles, and through word-of-mouth.
A group of individuals dressed for the spring walk on a tour of Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens
Conference attendees visit Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

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There were outside activities planned that complemented each days’ activities, including an early morning visit to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens on March 7. NPS interns from the Northeast and National Capital Regions signed up. Participants learned what it was like to implement a Corps trail project, as well as the natural history of Kenilworth and the importance of community trails. They visited sections of the trail that the Student Conservation Association had worked to stabilize and maintain the walking paths impacted by visitors and other environmental factors.

The opening Plenary welcomed attendees to the conference. The organization Leading to Change got everyone thinking outside of the box from what they have been used to doing. One idea can change everything for the better. Each person received a card with different topics in various forms, including quotes, words, letters, numbers, and images. These could be used as conversation starters with anyone else they interacted with.
7 individuals from different backgrounds smiling for a group photo. The clothing is a mix of business professional and business casual. The two women on the far right are holding up rectangular glass awards.
The five 2023 Corpsmember of the Year Awardees with U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Michael Smith, Chief Executive Officer at AmeriCorps

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On March 8, The Corps Network hosted an awards dinner and reception to honor the five Corpsmembers of the Year and three Project of the Year awardees. Two of the Corpsmembers of the Year that were nominated and selected worked with the NPS through partner organizations. Precious Vicente worked at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument as an American Conservation Experience member through the Traditional Trades Advancement Program (TTAP) and Christopher “CJ” Franco worked at Haleakalā National Park as a Stewards Individual Placement member through TTAP. In addition, Deb Haaland, the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary and the NPS Director Chuck Sams also made special appearances. Learn more about this year’s conference.

The last day of the Conference was bittersweet, as we had to say goodbye to colleagues we had only seen through our computer screens, or those we were seeing again for the first time since the pandemic. Several federal agency colleagues attended, including those from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Other partners included The Corps Network, Conservation Legacy, AmeriCorps, American Conservation Experience, Student Conservation Experience, Groundwork USA, Greening Youth Foundation, and many others who are part of the 21st Century Conservation and Service Corps.
10 individuals dressed in business clothing with the NPS Director Chuck Sams
Team of NPS staff attend The Corps Network 2023 Conference and welcomed the NPS Director during a special awards and reception event

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Have a question about Youth or Young Adult Programs? Please e-mail us. Learn more about what we do. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Haleakalā National Park, Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

Last updated: April 13, 2023