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Governor Cuomo Launches Excelsior Conservation Corps Environmental Stewardship Program

Governor Cuomo announced the launch of New York State's Excelsior Conservation Corps, a new AmeriCorps environmental education and stewardship program for 18 to 25 year olds. Once enrolled in the program, members will perform meaningful environmental projects across New York State while gaining hands on-experience and skills in conservation careers.

"The Excelsior Conservation Corps will offer young New Yorkers the opportunity to gain skills and training while addressing some of our state's most pressing environmental needs," Governor Cuomo said. "Continuing this state's rich tradition of environmental stewardship, this new initiative will help ensure New York becomes cleaner and greener than ever before."

Envisioned in Governor Cuomo's 2015 Opportunity Agenda, the Excelsior Conservation Corps will enroll 50 members, striving for diverse membership and veteran engagement. The 10-month service program will begin in January 2016 and will be administers by the Student Conservation Association, a leading national organization in youth and young adult conservation service and environmental education programs.

"The Excelsior Conservation Corps will build upon New York's environmental legacy, protecting and enhancing the state's natural resources while ensuring it's continued stewardship by empowering the next generation of conservation leaders," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who attended today's press conference.

The program will be funded through $1.9 million in combined state and federal funding. The New York State Environmental Protection Fund, New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation and the State University of New York will provide a total of $1 million for the program. The New York State Commission on National and Community Service, in partnership with the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, has also committed $850,000 of AmeriCorps funding to the program. Additional funding will be secured by the Student Conservation Association through sponsorships and private donations.

Excelsior Conservation Corps Activities & Training

Under the supervision of the Student Conservation Association, program members will assist state agencies including the Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Environmental Facilities Corporation and State University of New York in open space management; natural resource stewardship; infrastructure and sustainability; recreation and access mapping; and environmental education and outreach at state campgrounds and nature centers. Specific projects will include water improvement projects, safety improvements on trails and campsites, tidal marsh restoration, invasive species removal, habitat monitoring, and climate change and resiliency measures. In addition to environmental stewardship work, members will undergo disaster and volunteer management training to help communities impacted by extreme weather and serve as volunteer leaders during larger service events.

Excelsior Conservation Corps members will be based at Morrisville State College, where they will receive extensive training and certifications in wilderness first aid, trail construction, stone and timber construction, carpentry, risk management and emergency response, education and outreach, and backcountry living. After completing the program's basic training, members will engage in service work, dividing into smaller teams to tackle priority projects across the state. While on remote and multi-day or week service hitches, members will stay at satellite sites, often camping or staying in cabins at State Parks and Department of Environmental Conservation campgrounds.

Qualifications and How to Apply

The Excelsior Conservation Corps emphasizes education and career development. Members will develop leadership skills, general job skills and marketable skills that are designed to lead to a career in conservation or a related field. The program will provide opportunities to enhance personal and professional development and links to academic and professional resources, that will further members' opportunities after their service. Each member will be paid a stipend.

An Excelsior Conservation Corps member must: be a U.S. citizen or resident between the ages of 18 and 25; be a New York State resident or go to school in the state; have a high school diploma or GED; be able to work both independently and as part of team; and be able to perform physical labor. Appropriate accommodations will be made whenever possible for those who are disabled. Special efforts will be made to recruit veterans and minority candidates.

To download an application or for more information on the Environmental Conservation Corps, visit The Environmental Conservation Corps is an equal opportunity employer.