Madison Brannigan arrived in Colorado with a degree in environmental studies and a place to live – but no job. With aspirations of finding work that would connect her with the outdoors and conservation, Madison began her job search with Craigslist, and soon landed a corpsmember position at Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC). It was a perfect fit for Madison, who grew up in upstate New York.
“I’ve always been outdoorsy. I have always spent my time camping, hiking, skiing… anything to get outside,” she says.
During her year-and-a-half tenure at MHYC, Madison’s job evolved from administrative and project support to outreach and alumni mentoring. Funded by an AmeriCorps grant, she gained a wealth of experience attending job fairs and presentations, talking with parents and youth, developing marketing materials and managing the website, with a specific eye on recruitment for the Energy and Water, Summer of Service, AmeriCorps Leadership and Conservation, and YouthBuild programs.
“I love what Mile High Youth Corps does, hiring youth and engaging youth and the community as a whole, with a final goal of environmental conservation,” says Madison. “The staff and supervisors were amazing, always pushing me, and letting me take on tasks and new ideas.” Madison also earned $5,500 in AmeriCorps Education Awards, which she says cut her student loans in half.
The experience and skills Madison gained led directly to a job that started in January at Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) – another organization whose mission she believes in. “GOCO funds youth corps projects, and it has a strong impact on the Colorado community,” she says. As a local government program coordinator, Madison reviews local government grants and youth corps grants, and helps administer the grant program. She hopes her new job will allow her the occasion to visit youth corps projects in action.
Driving Madison’s passion is preservation for the sake of the future. “Environmental conservation is one of the biggest issues we face. And enjoying the outdoors is really important to me; I want the next generation to be able to experience it,” she says.
We wish Madison well in her new position!
Photo: Madison hiking in Zion National Park.
AmeriCorps Grant Off to a Strong Start
Two youth corps had a solid jumpstart on 2015 this month, thanks in part to a $1.39 million grant, announced last May, that allows CYCA to continue our AmeriCorps Education Awards Program.
At Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) in Denver, two alumni mentors – who were members of MHYC’s AmeriCorps Leadership and Conservation program (ACLC) last year – started their terms in mid-January. The alumni outreach mentor helps with recruitment, outreach and documentation, and serves as a resource for newer corpmembers. The alumni conservation mentor works with the conservation program to facilitate training, program-specific activities and program planning, and also closely works with incoming corpsmembers to help them navigate their term with MHYC. And just this week, 24 additional corpsmembers came on board. Half were hired into the 2015 ACLC program, where they will support energy and water conservation through the spring, and then will transition to serve as assistant crew leaders on land conservation crews for MHYC’s Summer of Service. The other 12 corpsmembers will serve on the energy and water conservation program through June.
“The AmeriCorps grant is hugely impactful in allowing us to continue helping communities and individuals in need, and building stewardship among corpsmembers,” says Tom Dillow, a senior program manager at MHYC. There is also huge opportunity for leadership and personal growth. “A big piece of MHYC here in Denver is working with corpsmembers to help them with whatever their next step will be – whether it’s returning to or enrolling in college, getting an internship or apprenticeship, or getting ready for a career,” he says.
In northern Colorado, mid-January saw the enrollment of seven new members in Larimer County Conservation Corps (LCCC)’s water and energy program. Their focus is on performing home energy assessments for customers of City of Fort Collins Utilities and Loveland Water & Power. In addition to assessments, corpsmembers will retrofit homes with high-efficiency toilets, programmable thermostats, LED light bulbs, and low-flow sink aerators and showerheads. An additional 11 slots will be filled in LCCC’s various summer programs – including the land, sawyer and AgriCorps programs.
Maelly Oropeza, LCCC’s corps manager, says the AmeriCorps grant will help maintain LCCC’s overall financial stability, and, he adds, “We’re able to offer a longer educational award time period than in years past – and that helps with recruitment.”
Thanks to AmeriCorps, CYCA will support approximately 350 youth corps members this year through several participating corps, which include Mile High Youth Corps, Mile High Youth Corps-Colorado Springs, Larimer County Conservation Corps, Weld County Youth Conservation Corps and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. We also owe a big thanks to Serve Colorado, the Governor’s Commission on Community Service for administering the grant!
Photo 1: Two LCCC members install a programmable thermostat.
Photo 2: LCCC’s Water and Energy Crew.
GOCO Awards $500,000 for Youth Corps Projects
CYCA is excited to share the news: Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) has awarded $500,000 in grants that will employ hundreds of youth across the state this year. Corpsmembers will work on a variety of projects critical to Colorado’s ecological health as well as projects designed to improve public access and safety.
The 17 projects taking place in summer 2015 include: 16.8 miles of trail rehabilitation or construction, 450 feet of fence construction, 103.8 acres of fire mitigation and forest restoration, 31.2 acres of invasive species removal and 1 mile of riparian restoration work. Administered by CYCA, the grants will deploy crews from seven youth corps and support 14 counties including Adams, Chaffee, Clear Creek, El Paso, Grand, Gunnison, La Plata, Mesa, Mineral, Montrose, Pueblo, Routt, Summit and Teller.
Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,500 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit goco.org for more information.