New Veterans-Youth Conservation Partnership has Big Goals in Colorado
Thanksgiving Day is nearly upon us, a day that evokes images of family and friends, and giving thanks for the things we have and the people around us. And the mainstay of Thanksgiving, the food and the love that goes into cooking it, unites us.
This spirit of unity and a thankfulness for our public lands converged in Denver last week, as the Conservation Lands Foundation teamed up with the Colorado Youth Corps Association to kick off an exciting new endeavor – the Veterans-Youth Conservation Corps partnership. Downtown Denver was the scene – Coohills Restaurant to be exact – as the Veterans-Youth Conservation Corps was officially launched. The collaboration, which also includes the Bureau of Land Management, veterans groups such as Veterans Green Jobs, and private industry, advances the twin goals of providing Colorado veterans and youth with employment and job training opportunities as they work to restore and maintain Colorado’s public lands.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was among those on hand to applaud the venture – and share some sage cooking advice of his own with the crowd of nearly 100 supporters:
“When you take Colorado youth corps, tie them in with veterans, mix that with the Bureau of Land Management staff that’s in Colorado, then you begin to get a pretty rich soup. Mix in some private industry funders to provide resources or donations, add the Conservation Lands Foundation. Now it’s seasoned, now it’s got heat and energy.”
In addition to Governor Hickenlooper, the event featured a pair of standout conservation corps members who were on hand to share their experiences. Eddica Tuttle, 22, has worked with Western Colorado Conservation Corps since 2011. Eddica grew up in a low-income family, but through dedication and hard work has risen to become a Crew Leader in a very short time and at a very young age – she’s excited for the opportunity to become the first in her immediate family to attend college.
Meanwhile, Corey Adamy left for the Marine Corps at the age of 18, where he eventually found himself in Iraq maintaining weapons systems on F18s fighters. Upon returning, Corey earned his degree in natural resources at Colorado State University. Today, Corey is a Crew Leader as well – he leads a team of veterans as part of the Southwest Conservation Corps’ wild lands firefighting program. He is also an active volunteer member of the Durango Fire and Rescue team.
There was a great energy in the room as Corey and Eddica shared their stories, and it only grew more upbeat as the speakers finished and attendees had the opportunity to mingle and discuss the partnership’s potential. The Colorado BLM is providing initial funding for the partnership, and those involved hope the focus on empowering the state’s youth and veterans will lead to additional private funding down the road. Private funding would mean the possibility of expansion, which in turn would mean more opportunities for job growth and public land restoration in the future.
The mission of Conservation Lands Foundation is to protect, restore and expand the National Conservation Lands so they will endure from generation to generation. This restoration partnership is the first of its kind for CLF, one that we hope will be the first of many. And as befits this holiday week, it is a partnership we are very thankful to be a part of.
Senator Mark Udall was unable to attend the event, but delivered a message via video highlighting the importance of the our National Conservation Lands and the impact that supporting Colorado youth and veterans can have. Check out photos of the event here.