Colorado Youth Corps Association Honors Ten Corpsmembers
Awards Ceremony Celebrates Youth Work Experience and Commitment to Colorado’s Natural Resources
Feb. 2, 2015, DENVER, Colo. – The Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) honored its 2014 Corpsmembers of the Year this morning at the annual Youth Corps Awards Ceremony, held at the Colorado State Capitol. Representing all corners of the state, the 10 young people were recognized for their outstanding contributions to corps’ work on conservation projects last year. The event was followed by a celebratory brunch at the Warwick Hotel.
The young people involved in youth corps are a critical source of support in conserving and protecting Colorado’s land, water and energy resources, and contribute significantly to making Colorado a better place to live and play.
During the awards ceremony, held in the State Capitol’s Old Supreme Court Chambers, three corpsmembers offered personal testimonies about youth corps and its impact on them:
- Preston FitzRandolph, an 18-year-old who completed his fourth season with Boulder County Youth Corps in 2014, earned his Corpsmember of the Year nomination through exemplary initiative and leadership. He consistently led groups of corpsmembers to complete tasks such as mulching trees, weeding and trail repair. Preston initiated the Safety Circle each morning, ensured that tools were properly placed before each crew break, and regularly paired himself with less-motivated teammates to be a model for a good work ethic. Preston was always the first to volunteer, even for undesirable tasks, and became known for listening to everyone’s ideas on the team.
- Jorge Lomas is a first-generation American who moved from Mexico to Denver when he was 12. When Jorge began his first AmeriCorps term at Mile High Youth Corps in May 2013, he did not think he would finish. The work was technical, physically demanding, and like nothing he had ever done. But he stuck with it. With each small success – such as getting certified to use a chainsaw – Jorge’s confidence grew, and so did his leadership skills. Each season he took on greater responsibility. Returning for his third term, he was tasked with his first leadership role: being a peer leader to new crew members.
- After serving in the U.S. Marines, Daniel Salerno joined the Southwest Conservation Corps’ Veterans Fire Corps crew in the summer of 2014. As the crew progressed through training and into project work, Daniel excelled as a natural peer leader and quickly stepped into the role of crew leader. He led his peers through exemplary behavior, performance and dedication to the program, and was successful in achieving the overall goal: preparing alumni for careers in wildland firefighting. Daniel’s term as a corpsmember and mentor earned him an AmeriCorps Education Award. Daniel excelled in all aspects of youth corps, from mentorship to technical performance, and returned to lead a Veteran Fire Corps crew.
“The exceptional work of corpsmembers is a testament to the commitment of today’s young people to serve our state while preparing for their own futures,” said Scott Segerstrom, CYCA’s executive director.
“We hear story after story about corpsmembers whose lives have been touched in deep and meaningful ways through their experience in corps. And in many cases, corpsmembers have overcome personal obstacles thanks to the relationships they formed and the life skills they developed through corps. We will continue to invest in our young people so that they may continue to invest in the state of Colorado,” Segerstrom added.
The 10 youth who were honored as 2014 Corpsmembers of the Year are:
- Preston FitzRandolph of Boulder County Youth Corps
- Forest Utzman-Nichols of Larimer County Conservation Corps
- Tyler Lee of Mile High Youth Corps-Southern Front Range
- Jorge Lomas of Mile High Youth Corps
- Gracie Billingsley of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps
- Dan Salerno of Southwest Conservation Corps-Four Corners
- JP Clark of Southwest Conservation Corps-Los Valles
- Ben Anderson of Steamboat Springs Community Youth Corps
- David Woodbury of Western Colorado Conservation Corps
- Kalen Myers of Weld County Youth Conservation Corps
Complete biographies for all 10 corpsmembers are available on CYCA’s Facebook page.
Thousands of young people gain jobs, job training, life skills, college scholarships, and high school and college credits through their work with youth corps. This year, those efforts will grow substantially with the help of a $1.39 million grant CYCA received from AmeriCorps in May 2014. CYCA will use the funds, administered through the Serve Colorado, the Governor’s Commission on Community Service, to support its Youth and Vets for Colorado AmeriCorps program in 2015. CYCA is the largest AmeriCorps program in Serve Colorado’s portfolio, enabling 366 youth corps members to participate this year alone.
About Colorado Youth Corps Association
The Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) is a statewide coalition of ten accredited youth conservation corps that engage and train youth, young adults, and military veterans on land, water and energy conservation projects. Youth corps is a proven strategy for engaging young people in service to their communities and stewardship of their environment while cultivating valuable skills to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Learn more at www.CYCA.org.