Utah Conservation Corps Celebrates 20 Years of Conservation Service

Utah Conservation Corps is Utah State University’s field conservation program focused on creating a new generation of conservation leaders. The program is celebrating 20 years of hands-on service in Utah’s parks and public lands. UCC is a program within USU’s Center for Community Engagement, a Student Affairs department formed in 2013 with a mission to develop active citizens through community engagement and scholarship.

“UCC has been proud to be part of USU’s land-grant mission of service to the public while furthering on the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps” said Sean Damitz, Center for Community Engagement director and UCC co-founder.

As UCC’s 20-year celebration gets underway this week, the group is focusing on three major initiatives. Beginning this week, UCC will dedicate the next 20 weeks to celebrating the events, the accomplishments, and the stories of individuals as part of a social media campaign. Each week will focus on a year of operations. Partners and alums can participate in the campaign by sharing stories through UCC’s dedicated web portal and through social media.

UCC has developed a website specifically for celebrating the 20-year milestone. The site is interactive and will feature new photos and videos each week throughout the spring and summer. The final element of the celebration will be a conservation service activity this fall, where students, faculty and the community can come together and participate in conservation activities throughout the Logan area that will align with public activity protocols current at the time.

Founded in 2001, Utah Conservation Corps was designed as an AmeriCorps national service program to continue a legacy of conservation service that began with the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933. The program is funded through UServeUtah, Utah’s state commission focused on serving state and community needs through service.

Damitz oversaw UCC’s first program year beginning with five AmeriCorps Crew Leaders, recruited from across the nation.

“In May of that year, we started our first conservation project with a federal partner doing some ADA compliance trail-work at Capitol Reef National Park,” Damitz said. “We added 15 crew members that summer, focused mostly on trail-work.”

In the years since inception, UCC has expanded to meet the growing needs of our state and nation. Crews have been trained in historic structure preservation, invasive species management, and fuels reduction for wildfire mitigation. In 2006 UCC crews began traveling across the country to assist with disaster recovery from hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. This past year when many similar programs were sidelined due to pandemic restrictions, UCC sent disaster response teams to both Louisiana and Florida.

UCC will embark on a third decade as federal land management agencies have recently received funding for millions of dollars’ worth of deferred maintenance in parks and on trails. From a humble beginning of 20 young conservationists, UCC will field their 2500th AmeriCorps member in the coming year, building on an already-strong cadre of conservation leaders.

Learn more about UCC’s 20-Year history, how it aligns with the rich history of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and discover great opportunities for individuals, families and groups to get involved at ucc.usu.edu/20years.

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