Youth Conservation Corps
The goal of Conservation Corps programs is to accomplish habitat restoration goals while providing teens with employment experience, science education, and a self-esteem enriching experience.
The Foundation has approved over $112,000 in grants to support various conservation corps programs based on their high quality programming that deeply impacts the lives of youth and the short-term and long-term health of the preserves.
In 2015, The Forest Preserve Foundation supported the Student Conservation Association's 'Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps' Program with a $70,000 grant. This program runs in partnership with the Forest Preserves of Cook County and Friends of the Forest Preserves. "This experience has changed my life in a way, by helping me figure out what I want to do with my life," said Nathan Taylor, who will now double major in Illustration and Wildlife biology.
The overall program supported 61 interns and 12 crew leaders this summer. Their accomplishments included removing almost 5 acres of invasive plants, improving 5 miles of trails and maintaining the gardens located at the preserves' nature centers. The exposure to hard work, opportunities for job and careers in conservation, special certifications such as chainsaw handling, and the deep bonds formed among crew members impacts the teens even more.
"You get to become one with nature in this job. I always liked it when the sun hit the leaves. Now I know what type of leaf it is," says Tamia, a 15 year old crew member.
You can purchase supplies that directly support youth working and learning in the preserves. The Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Conservation Corps members are working on-the-ground, year around, in all sorts of weather. Their hard work is helping us to restore our Forest Preserves back to health. These hard-working youth have requested certain items essential to accomplish this critical work. They also made a special request to have camping gear available for the Conservation Corps Crews. Many of the members have never had the opportunity to camp… until now. Camping builds trust and a strong team bond while also nurturing a love for the preserves and nature.