Revisiting Conservation Corps for Earth Day 2021

Today is Earth Day and I’m listening to a Morning Show episode on renewing the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Having participated in Youth Conservation Corps during my high school years, I’ve always been fascinated by the CCC—not only for the work they did but also the idea the organization represented.

The CCC was a public work relief program initiated during the Great Depression that provided jobs for unemployed, single men between the ages of 18 and 25. It offered food, lodging, clothing and wages at a time when many were without, simply because of a collapsed economy. In exchange, the men did manual labor in conservation and natural resources.

Using today’s buzz words, the CCC was both socially responsible and regenerative—a wise investment that benefitted both men and society. The men earned money they could put back into the economy. It gave them job skills and personal value that carried them through life (my husband’s grandfather was a CCCer and later became a tradesman in construction). The national and state parks we cherish today can be credited to the CCC and the hard work of these men.

A Personal Level

So long ago, but not quite the 1930s!

My own YCC experience brings a touch of nostalgic credibility to such government programs—at a much smaller scale, of course, considering we were highschoolers and only worked during the summer. We built trails, planted trees and studied the environment. I like to think we made a positive contribution to society. For sure, I know it’s benefitted my life in ways I never imagined at the time.

What’s Old is New

President Biden recently proposed a new program called the Civilian Climate Corps. It likens to the old CCC with a modern twist, as outlined here by Evergreen Action. With open-minded thinking, we can easily see there’s justification for such an investment. Many Americans are still without work. We need laborers for burgeoning environmental problems. At the same time, we have young generations craving for meaning in their lives. Why not put this energy to use for the common good?

How about it, folks. Maybe you could contact your elected officials and encourage the Civilian Climate Corps?

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