The Utah Conservation Corps, based out of the Utah State University Center for Community Engagement, has received a $5,000 grant from the COVID-19 Corps Relief Fund, an emergency fund established by The Corps Network, with support from The JPB Foundation, to assist Service and Conservation Corps in safely continuing programming during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement from Utah State University.
The COVID-19 Corps Relief Funds are intended to be used for immediate, unforeseen needs, such as additional transportation expenses incurred by encouraging social distancing, additional expenses for Personal Protective Equipment and equipment needed for remote learning, and other expenses related to safely supporting Corps participants, staff, and communities at this time.
Over the last few months UCC has developed a COVID-19 Task Force to establish operations and protocols that will allow UCC’s 19-year tradition of creating conservation leaders by active engagement on parks and public lands. “For this year, we know our work will look a little different from previous years,” explains UCC Director Sean Damitz. “We will have fewer AmeriCorps crew members, and those members will be largely confined to their own work crews for the entire season.”
Nicole Kreiser has been with UCC for eight years, and was part of the UCC leadership team that established the operational directives for crews under coronavirus restrictions. “Our AmeriCorps crews work remotely, but still have to travel on occasion to get food and supplies, or to relocate to a new worksite,” she explained. “So, in addition to managing for our own safety, we have to find ways to work safely within every community we serve.”
Just the increase in costs for personal protective equipment alone outpaces the amount of the grant, explained Damitz. “But in such a tight budget year, we are very thankful for the support. For us, of course, the biggest commitment comes from these young people who are willing to undergo such great social restriction in order to conserve Utah’s beautiful natural resources.”
“In recent weeks, I have been inspired by the way Utah Conservation Corps and others across the country have adapted during this pandemic,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, president and CEO of The Corps Network.
UCC AmeriCorps members began two weeks of quarantine and training last week before deploying to their worksites. Young people who are interested in fall opportunities to serve can visit the UCC web site at UCC.usu.edu.