Corpsmembers Reach New Career Heights

Judith hails from Hayward and wanted to work in and around nature.

“Working outdoors – I love nature. I see how more and more, we’re destroying the environment and I wanted to work in some capacity helping future generations. I wanted to know that I was doing something about it.”

– Judith V.

Combined with his desire to work outdoors, Union City native Jamarr likes to be able to look back at the end of day and see what he completed.

“Before [Civicorps], I was with the [California Conservation Corps]. All we did was conservation work, like fuel reduction, so I had been doing a whole bunch of conservation work for the past three years.”

– Jamarr M.

What do these two Corpsmembers have in common?  Drum roll, please! Civicorps is excited to announce that Judith and Jamarr will be joining EBMUD for a year-long internship, starting this week! These two spectacular young adults will be the inaugural interns for EBMUD’s Community Trainee Program positions.

These positions came to fruition after a year of conversation and planning with EBMUD management. Discussion began in March 2021, in a bid to explore how to build a stronger partnership, get Corpsmembers hired into great jobs, and how to build a pathway into employment with EBMUD.

Now, our unique partnership has resulted in the creation of two 1-year Community Trainee Program (CTP) internship positions in the Operations and Maintenance Department, allowing for a young person to transition beyond Civicorps and into working with one of the East Bay’s largest employers. The CPT will cycle through teams focused on grounds maintenance, paint and carpentry, giving them exposure to a variety of jobs and skills.

“The idea of an internship was of course not new to EBMUD but the logistics are always tricky – funding, supervision, hiring process, job description, agreement from labor, etc.,” recalls Civicorps Executive Director Tessa Nicholas. “But, our extensive track record and over 35 year partnership provided a solid foundation to build on as we shared details on the training our Corpsmembers receive and the wrap-around support we provide.”

“Honestly, for me, being a woman, a lot of people I know were against what I was going to be doing – in me taking ‘a man’s role’ or me ‘not being strong enough,’” reflects Judith. “There was a point where I was listening to them. But now, I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I was thinking of quitting at the beginning, thinking I wasn’t going to make it, there was like so many things to learn. Now after being here for eight to nine months, I really know how to work power tools, I know how to troubleshoot them. I even know how to identify invasive plant species. I’m happy and proud that I haven’t been listening to the negative comments.”

Judith has worked on a range of projects such as the Pallet Partnership, which earned Civicorps (alongside fellow California corps LA Conservation Corps and San Jose Conservation Corps) 2022 Project of the Year by the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps. Judith also helped restore a habitat for local wildlife.

“I think I’m helping to break barriers, making a difference for future generations. I feel like for them, it’ll be easier seeing that there’s more women in the field.”

For Jamarr, no newbie to the conservation industry, Civicorps was a means to build his network among the organizations he had his eye on for employment: Waste Management, EBMUD, EBRPD, & the Port of Oakland.

Civicorps’ Support Services offers wrap-around support for plenty of Corpsmember needs. Among them includes career counseling, with workshops often happening every Friday. Jamarr appreciated the resume workshops, helping to hone and fine tune cover letters and the interview process.

“I built a lot of good relationships with the people [at Civicorps], [it] was a necessary stepping stone for my career.”

Without a doubt these stellar Corpsmembers brought their experience to the table and made these new roles happen for themselves. We cannot wait to see more of their accomplishments as they settle in their new roles!

Filed under: Blog, News

Civicorps Participant Earns Corpsmember of the Year Award!

We are beyond excited to announce that our very own Martha Alva Velásquez, a current Conservation Intern and Crew Leader, will be recognized by The Corps Network, the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, as a 2022 Corpsmember of the Year!

This prestigious award is only being given to four Corpsmembers across the entire country this year.  An exceptional young woman, we featured Martha’s Conservation Career Pathway in our FY21 Annual Report.

The Corps Network presents the Corpsmember of the Year Award on an annual basis to young adults chosen from among the approximately 25,000 individuals who serve in member organizations of The Corps Network every year. The Corpsmembers of the Year are young people who, through their term of service in a Corps, have demonstrated personal growth, outstanding leadership skills, and a sincere commitment to helping their community. All winners of the Corpsmember of the Year Award are nominated by their Corps.

We couldn’t be more proud of Martha’s achievements, and we are deeply honored that The Corps Network has recognized her leadership.  It’s a privilege to have Martha be part of the Civicorps family, to support her goal of becoming a Park Ranger, and to be motivated by her talent and dedication.  We’re thrilled to be able to celebrate Martha with the entire Corps family across the country. – Tessa Nicholas, Executive Director

Congratulations to all the Supervisors and mentors who supported Martha’s growth and accomplishments.  And most of all, FELICIDADES, MARTHA!

Filed under: Blog, News, Student SpotlightTagged with: , , , ,

Corpsmember of the 2021 Fall Quarter: Anthony Silva


We’re excited to announce our 2021 Fall Corpsmember of the Quarter, Anthony Silva!

Anthony demonstrates his leadership abilities every day, guiding his crewmembers and supporting his supervisors as well as attaining a high level of skills and tools certifications.

Notably, Anthony works on Civicorps’ Port of Oakland contract without a Job Training Supervisor managing his crew, indicating he has earned the trust of his Supervisor, Jeff.

“Anthony stands out because of his efforts to be the best he can be,” expresses Jeff. “He also engages with the sponsor, whichever agency we are working for, creating a positive work environment.”

Recently, Anthony led Civicorps’ 2022 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Service Project. Partnering with the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department of the City of Berkeley, Anthony and his crew beautified the historically underserved communities of South and West Berkeley.

“The staff [Civicorps] sent were very respectful, hardworking, and represented [the] agency very well.  I was so proud of them; so proud to be part of that Corps family!” said Melissa Marizette-Green, Acting Senior Landscape Gardener Supervisor of the City of Berkeley Parks Operations.

Having heard about Civicorps from his brother (and fellow Corpsmember of the Quarter winner, Milton!) and encouraged by his family, Anthony joined the Corps to develop his soft skills: leadership, communication, and problem solving.

“I feel I’m already gaining those skills and sharpening and honing them, especially in the Crew Leader position where I can work on leadership and outspokenness in communicating. I like leading a group, it’s fun seeing the results you get based on leading, which is pretty gratifying.”

Anthony also has a range of interests from skateboarding to boxing. But when it comes to his work, he finds more interest in being outdoors than in.

Anthony (far right), with his crew members Erica and Santino, speaking with Melissa Marizette-Green, Acting Senior Landscape Gardener Supervisor of the City of Berkeley Parks Operations.

Anthony (bottom, far right) with his fellow blue hats, i.e., Crew Leaders.

“I like looking at nature, it’s one of the perks of this job. There are all the different views and scenery that we can see [at the project sites]. Like at Berkeley, working in the hills, you can see the city.”

Already accomplished, Anthony completed his Conservation Intern Investment Program (CIIP) Checklist, which tracks a Corpsmembers’ progress in career readiness, job performance, community participation, and skill development. To become a Crew Leader, Anthony was accepted into Civicorps’ competitive Crew Leader Academy, which occurs twice a year.

When asked about his future goals, Anthony expressed an interest in pursuing higher education. Currently, he is taking courses at Las Positas College.

“I don’t see myself doing something else anytime soon besides continuing my education. I’m interested in sociology, studying people – I like to help people. I felt like it’d be a good fit for me to find something [I] love to do, that’s when the job doesn’t feel like a job. Like here at Civicorps, when I’m working, it doesn’t feel like I’m working but we’re getting a lot of work done and having fun doing it.”

In recognition of Anthony’s stellar work ethic, reliability and leadership, the Corpsmember of the Quarter award is well-deserved. We’re sure he will no doubt keep up the amazing work!

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Filed under: Blog, News, Student Spotlight

We're featured in this year's Share the Spirit campaign!

Thanks to our friends at the East Bay Times, Civicorps is proud to share this article, published December 5, 2021.

Share the Spirit: Facing tough times, Oakland residents get back on career track through Civicorps

by Shomik Mukherjee, East Bay Times

Photo credit: Jane Tyska, Bay Area News Group

Founded in 1983, the nonprofit finds clients through word-of-mouth and focuses on environmental work through a network of conservation corps across California.

OAKLAND — During a recent stroll through the large warehouse that Civicorps calls its headquarters and where so many fledgling adults find a way out of life’s setbacks, it’s sinking in on 21-year-old Jasmine Lagunas that she will soon need to leave.

“I really don’t want to go,” Lagunas tells Libbie Hodas, a manager at the nonprofit that has helped struggling young adults pick up paid work experience, complete their education and get back on their feet.

In Lagunas’ case, that time is now. She has ambitions of becoming a registered nurse, and her masterful use of chainsaws and pole saws — learned through Civicorps’ extensive training programs — could get her much needed income until she achieves her goal.

To read more, click here.

Filed under: Alumni News, News, Student Spotlight

We Hosted a Famous Former Girl Scout (Mayor Libby Schaaf) at the Corps

On a recent rainy Thursday morning, a crew of Corpsmembers working at MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline Park welcomed a special visitor.  Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf stopped by! She chatted with East Bay Regional Park District staff, Civicorps Supervisors and Corpsmembers, observed their project site, and imparted a little wisdom.

The famously Oakland-born-and-raised Mayor asked questions about our work (fuel load reduction and brush clearing), commented on the importance of wildfire mitigation (last week marked the 30th anniversary of the Oakland Hills Fire, which destroyed 3,400 homes including her father’s) and welcomed questions in turn.  One Corpsmember asked her how she got her start in politics (through volunteering and community service, said the former Girl Scout and AmeriCorps Project YES alum). Another asked her a surprising (albeit very important) personal question: does she get enough sleep? The answer: no, but the Mayor took the opportunity posed by this query to discuss the virtues of self-care.

Women Who Wield Chainsaws

We were proud to introduce the Mayor to our fabulous Conservation Supervisors Jeff Chilcott and Ryan Waters, and to our amazing Corpsmembers: Crew Leader Anthony Silva, Dennis Turner, Erica Bradley and Josiah Crochet. Mayor Schaaf was especially impressed with the women on the crew, Crew Leader Martha Alva Velasquez and Nicole Smith, both of whom flexxed their chainsaw skills (the Mayor wanted to be sure she stood next to a chainsaw-wielding woman in the group photo!)  And we were very happy to demonstrate the conservation work we do to keep Oakland safe and beautiful. In fact, we work around the greater East Bay to engage young people through paid job training on critical conservation projects.

Mayor Schaaf, we welcome you to visit any of our projects anytime (though we can’t let you use a chainsaw without proper training and PPE.)  See you at the next project site!

Want to continue reading about what our Corpsmembers are up to? We’ll be thrilled to share. Add your name to our list here.


Filed under: Blog, NewsTagged with: , , ,

We're Featured on The Corps Network Blog!

We’re excited to be featured on The Corps Network’s blog this month in a great piece, Preparing the Bay Area for Fire; Preparing Young Workers for Careers. The Corps Network is, of course, the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, of which Civicorps is a proud affiliate.

Read on for The Corps Network’s “Corps Story” about the Corpsmembers at Civicorps working hard to keep the East Bay safe through fuel reduction and fire mitigation.


Filed under: Blog, News