The Maryland Conservation Corps Program engages young adults ages 17-25 in national service positions, funded in part by AmeriCorps, the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism (GOSV), The Corps Network, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The program’s mission is to provide young adults with opportunities for service in the community and the environment by preserving, protecting, enhancing, and restoring Maryland’s natural resources.
Maryland is losing forest and open space to development, and communities are relying on public lands for outdoor recreational needs. As a result of increased public use, invasive species are spreading, habitats are degrading, and the demand for maintenance and improvement of park facilities is unmet. The Maryland Park Service (MPS) system of 75 state parks represents a unique and readily available opportunity to provide significant and high-quality access to nature-based recreation in Maryland. This has never been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic, when state parks were inundated with record-breaking visitation. By December 2021, State Parks served over 19 million visitors. Maryland Conservation Corps members responded enthusiastically, maintaining trails and park facilities to slow the degradation of Maryland’s natural resources from the impact of this unprecedented visitation.
The MPS conserves 144,379 acres of forests and waterways and makes them available for public recreation, including over 2,660 campsites, cabins and picnic shelters and 1,153 miles of trails. The impact of over 19 million annual state park visitors has resulted in unmet demands for recreation access and a need to address a major backlog of over $64 million of critical maintenance projects on public recreation facilities, infrastructure, trails, and waterways. Forest pests, including Emerald Ash Borer and Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, threaten to eradicate ash and hemlock tree populations and the hundreds of species which depend on them.
There is a growing need for public access to hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, and waterway trails. Overuse, unplanned routes, and extreme weather events have accelerated erosion, washed out bridges, and created unsafe areas. Over 1,153 miles of trails in State Parks require regular maintenance, clearing, blazing, and signage. New trails must be constructed to improve access and sustainability. Additionally, The Chesapeake Bay suffers from poor water quality, soil erosion, invasive species, and loss of bay grasses and riparian forests.
People are spending less time outdoors and are not creating personal connections to the natural world. Increasingly, they do not have knowledge about the natural resources in their communities or how to be stewards of the land. Informal and formal environmental education programming is necessary to provide citizens living in Maryland with a sense of place and a commitment to natural resources protection. Visitors to public lands need opportunities to participate in hands-on interpretive programs that increase knowledge and awareness of environmental issues and promote an understanding of how they can make a difference.
With the supervision of experienced Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff, MCC crew members engage in projects in Maryland’s most beautiful places. Crews are placed throughout the state, specializing in services such as environmental education, park operations, stream monitoring, trail maintenance and construction, park improvements, invasive species removal, waterway restoration, providing disaster services and habitat restoration. A crew’s specialties are determined by the environmental and recreational needs of its region.
Members will address the pressing community needs by participating in the majority, if not all, of the examples of projects listed below:
- Members will improve over 2,400 acres of public lands to improve the quality of natural resources and park facilities by: removing invasive species, planting native trees and plants, installing signage, protecting and restoring habitat, clearing natural and unnatural debris (such as disaster debris), and maintaining and repairing recreational facilities. Members will reduce the critical maintenance backlog in parks and will maintain and improve the quality of Maryland’s natural resources by restoring native plants and habitat and increasing safe public access. MCC partners with the Maryland Department of Agriculture to protect hundreds of hemlock trees from the hemlock woolly adelgid, and to identify, monitor, and inoculate 200 specimen ash trees against the emerald ash borer each year.
- Members will improve over 160 miles of trails and waterways. Trails will be: maintained or re-routed to improve sustainability, made safer through improved signage and blazing, made more accessible through improved maintenance and installation of handicapped accessible boardwalks, and made more sustainable through invasive species removal. Riparian zones along waterways will be enhanced with litter removal (natural or unnatural such as disaster debris), riparian buffer implementation, invasive species removal, and native plant, grass, and tree plantings.
- MCC members will provide environmental education programs that promote personal connections to nature and environmental stewardship to over 5,000 individuals. Members will increase public awareness of the environment and good stewardship practices through environmental education programs and experiential learning. These programs will include campfires, natural history events, visitor center tours, live animal education sessions, climate change awareness training, STEM-based activities, and guided canoe/kayak and hiking trips for local schools and park visitors. Discussions, training, and key activities will promote changes in behavior that support environmental stewardship and sustainable natural resources. Members will also participate in various outreach programs, festivals, and displays in communities outside of state parks.
The impact members have on programmatic goals toward addressing community needs is enormous. The following short and long term goals are expected to be achieved both during and long after the members’ terms of service:
Park and Public Land Improvements:
Park visitors will not be able to access environmentally sensitive areas. Erosion will be reduced and native trees and plants will be protected. Rare, threatened and endangered species will be protected and environmentally degraded areas will return to quality environments. Wildfire and flooding risk will be reduced.
Trail and Waterway Improvements:
Trails will be more clearly marked to keep park visitors and school groups on designated trails. Trails will be safer and more accessible for a variety of users. The spread of invasive species will be reduced and riparian buffers will be established. Less runoff will enter nearby waterways polluting the Chesapeake Bay and environmentally degraded areas will return to quality environments.
An environmental stewardship ethic will be promoted in the community. Participants who engage in programs the MCC members provide will be encouraged to volunteer in their communities and use resources more wisely through reducing and reusing products and recycling. A more sustainable way of living will be taught to school groups and park visitors.
This is an 11 month, full-time (40 hours/week) position as a member of the Maryland Conservation Corps. The AmeriCorps service year will begin on September 28, 2022 and conclude no later than August 14, 2023. AmeriCorps members are expected to complete at least 1,700 hours of service during the term. Crew members will serve this term of service in the National Focus Area of Environmental Stewardship and will serve the general public including underserved youth K-12.
- Paid health insurance (if not already covered)
- Living allowance of $15 an hour
- Upon successful completion of the program, an education award of $6,495
- Childcare assistance if eligible
- Student loan deferment for most loans
- Valuable professional and networking opportunities
- Training in Comprehensive First Aid/CPR/AED, Chainsaw Use and Care, Wildland FireFighting and Environmental Education & Interpretation
To serve in the Maryland Conservation Corps, an individual must be at least 17 years of age; have a high school diploma or GED; be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien; pass a national service criminal history check of the national sex-offender registry, state repository check (Maryland and state of residence) and FBI fingerprint check and complete all training requirements. Documentation of age, education, and citizenship are due before the first day of service. Criminal history checks will be initiated and completed before the start of service; an individual will be ineligible if they are required to register on the National Sex Offender Registry, has been convicted of murder, or fails to disclose any previous conviction. Other convictions or pending charges will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with program policy.
ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
- Participate in all training and service projects, as well as several overnight training and projects and other activities required by the Maryland Conservation Corps. Regular overnight travel is required, particularly during October and November, as members participate in training and projects.
- Mobilize volunteers and perform direct service in Maryland State Parks and Public Lands such as: trail maintenance and construction, park improvement and maintenance projects, reforestation, wildlife habitat improvement, invasive species removal, environmental education, Chesapeake Bay restoration projects and other conservation related activities.
- Must be willing to work outdoors in all types of weather for extended periods of time.
- Perform tasks that require sitting, standing or walking for long periods of time, as well as carrying and/or lifting loads of up to 50 pounds.
- Serve as a proud ambassador for national service, the Maryland Conservation Corps and the Maryland Park Service.
- Work with vulnerable populations (children, persons age 60 or older, or individuals with disabilities) as needed.
- Note: the AmeriCorps member will not be allowed to perform duties that violate the AmeriCorps Prohibited Activities or fall outside of the program goals.
SKILLS AND ATTITUDES NECESSARY
- Comfortable with taking initiative, problem solving and working independently.
- Adept at building interpersonal relationships; willingness to work effectively as a part of a team.
- Able to communicate effectively with program staff, fellow corps members, the public, volunteers and park staff.
- Effective at oral and written communication.
- Committed to the concept of national service and to making a difference in their community.
- Familiar with basic computer operations.
- Access to reliable transportation to and from the service site. Transportation will be provided at the service sites for use with projects and training.
- Positive attitude and perseverance when faced with organizational or personal challenges.
- Ability to serve in a physically demanding environment performing rigorous activities such as trail construction and chainsaw use.
Maryland Conservation Corps members and supervisors all receive copies of the Prohibited Activities; these activities are read, reviewed and reinforced throughout the service year. Members sign off on copies of the Prohibited Activities. AmeriCorps members and/or volunteers may not engage in the below activities directly or indirectly by recruiting, training, or managing others for the primary purpose of engaging in one of the activities listed below. Individuals may exercise their rights as private citizens and may participate in the activities listed below on their initiative, on non-AmeriCorps time, and using non-federal funds. Individuals should not wear the AmeriCorps logo while doing so. Maryland Conservation Corps AmeriCorps members and/or volunteers will not be allowed to take part in the following prohibited activities:
- Attempting to influence legislation.
- Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.
- Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing.
- Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements.
- Engaging in partisan political activities or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office.
- Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials.
- Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.
- Providing a direct benefit to any of the following:
- A business organized for profit.
- A labor union.
- A partisan political organization.
- A nonprofit organization that fails to comply with the restrictions contained in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 except that nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent participants from engaging in advocacy activities undertaken at their own initiative.
- An organization engaged in the religious activities described above, unless Corporation assistance is not used to support those religious activities.
- Conducting a voter registration drive or using CNCS funds to conduct a voter registration drive.
- Providing abortion services or referrals for receipt of such services.
- Such other activities as the CNCS or GOSV may prohibit.
To be considered for the Maryland Conservation Corps Program, interested individuals must submit an online AmeriCorps application. Program Staff will send the applicant additional information about the program and, if appropriate, invite the applicant to submit a supplemental application. Staff then reviews the applications, conducts reference checks and provides a matching opportunity with one or more potential service sites. A phone or in-person interview may be conducted, and after an applicant has been tentatively matched, the three-part criminal history check will be initiated and appropriate paperwork will be sent. Individuals will not be enrolled as an AmeriCorps member or allowed to start service until all paperwork is received by the program, and the three-part background check process has been completed.
ORIENTATION AND TRAINING
The Maryland Conservation Corps Program provides approximately 100 hours of training in Comprehensive First Aid/CPR/AED, Wildland FireFighting, Chainsaw Use and Care and Environmental Education & Interpretation. The majority of the training is held during the first half of the service year and is interspersed among service projects. Additional training opportunities are available through the individual service sites.
SUPERVISION AND EVALUATION
The Crew Supervisor and/or Crew Leader provide day-to-day supervision. The Crew Supervisor will evaluate the AmeriCorps member’s performance according to Maryland Conservation Corps program policies. Maryland Park Service employees may also provide guidance to AmeriCorps members in projects and programs taking place in Maryland’s State Parks and Public Lands. In addition, the Maryland Conservation Corps Program Director, Deputy Director, and Program Officers may provide general supervision to all AmeriCorps members.
Each AmeriCorps member will serve approximately 40 hours per week. Typical service hours are 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; however, this is site specific. Some crews will work weekends and some evening hours, but members will not be required, on average, to serve more than 40 hours per week. Some activities, training and disaster situations, will necessitate service beyond the typical hours. Additionally, several projects and training throughout the year will require AmeriCorps members to stay overnight in different areas of the state for up to a week at a time.
The AmeriCorps member’s service site will be located at one of 8 state parks across the state. Members will be placed at locations on a first-come first-served basis and the recruiter will try to match the member with the most appropriate location. Low-cost state park housing is available at some locations. Most sites are not accessible by public transportation. Certain program training, events and projects will be held at locations throughout Maryland.
Thirty-five members will serve in crews of four to six. The eight service sites and supervisors for the program are as follows:
Assateague State Park
7307 Stephen Decatur Highway
Berlin, MD 21811
Ranger Meghan Rhode, Crew Supervisor
Tuckahoe State Park
13070 Crouse Mill Road
Queen Anne, MD 21657
Ranger Paul Detrich, Crew Supervisor
Merkle Natural Resources Management Area
11704 Fenno Road
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Ranger Danny Jones, Crew Supervisor
Patapsco Valley State Park
8020 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043
Ranger Alyssa Myers, Crew Supervisor
Gunpowder Falls State Park
PO Box 480
2813 Jerusalem Road
Kingsville, MD 21087
Ranger Mike Hook, Crew Supervisor
Deep Creek Lake State Park
898 State Park Road
Swanton, MD 21561
Ranger Aaron Mills, Crew Supervisor
Susquehanna State Park
4122 Wilkinson Road
Havre de Grace, MD 21078
Ranger Angie Pease, Crew Supervisor
South Mountain Recreational Area
21843 National Pike
Boonsboro, MD 21713
Ranger Jeremy Hulse, Crew Supervisor