Corps Networking + A Day On The Hill

February 21, 2019 | 

On February 10th, VYCC sent a cross section of the organization down to DC for a four-day conference, The Corps Network Conference. The Corps Network supports, advocates and provides funding for the 130+ Corps throughout the US (VYCC included!). Every year, over 25,000 diverse young people join Corps programs and make a difference in our communities. The conference is a collection of staff members and Corps Members from all over the county!

Caitlin Perrier (Program Services Administrator), Laura DeMaria (Administrative Manager), Nora Woolf (Recruitment and Member Services Manager) and Patrick Pfeifer (Conservation Program Director took the journey to bring home inspiration, new ideas, thought provoking conversations, and connections galore. Here’s what they have to say:

What an incredible opportunity and honor to be in DC at The Corps Network Conference and see so many different Corps – all with different program models, specific types of projects, different demographics, and a variety of scales from small Corps focused in a single neighborhood within a city or to a collection of Corps serving multiple states. The common thread? A focus on providing opportunities for young people to serve in our communities, learning and working together, and leaving a lasting legacy of positive change.

This year’s conference focus was “Resilience.” So many of our Corps Members have demonstrated resilience through their lived experiences in and out of the Corps, so this conference was all about looking deeper into what it means to have a resilient Corps. Corps have always done an incredible job focusing on public lands conservation and youth development, but it is becoming increasingly clear that we need to focus, directly and overtly, on increasing workforce development opportunities, community resilience, and instilling a broader ethic of national service. All of which align with VYCC’s 2019 initiatives and organizational goals!

We attended workshops ranging from how Corps are developing and adapting the Corps Member experience to provide enhanced skills for career development, increasing opportunity for women and people of color, and how to shift policies and practices to reflect a resilient Corps. A large part of the conference was focused on equity and social justice, with particular attention to racial equity – learning how it isn’t just about diversity and cultural competencies, but also needs to be about equity and social justice.

The conference ended with an opportunity for us to meet with staff members for Vermont’s DC delegation: Representative Peter Welch, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Patrick Leahy. We were delighted to speak with such knowledgeable and passionate individuals working on the hill to create positive change for Vermonters. We shared what VYCC has been up to since we met with them last year, how we are looking to  grow over time and and learned how our Vermont delegates are working on legislation that will benefit young people, the environment, and conservation movement in Vermont.

Senator Leahy and Sanders staffers were pleased to celebrate with us the passing of the Natural Resources Management Act, which will be moving to the house soon. This is said to be the largest public lands bill in over a decade helping protect and add millions of acres for recreation! Read more from Senator Sanders about the bill.

All three offices were excited to hear of where VYCC is heading and we are so happy to have them in DC advocating on our behalf!

So, what’s next? We will be staying in touch with our Senators and Representative as things move through the Hill. And in the barn, we will start to explore how we can integrate the learning from this past week!