Civicorps is very proud to announce that our very own Job Training Coordinator Steven Addison was recently appointed as a board member for both the Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps (ESCC) and the California Invasive Plant Council (CAL-IPC).
As Job Training Coordinator, Steven’s main focus is to help facilitate Corpsmembers’ experience and growth while at Civicorps. Steven draws a lot of insight from his extensive backcountry experience from his time with the California Conservation Corps (CCC), the Backcountry Trails Program (BCTP) and working on National Park Service’s trail crews in Yosemite and Big Bend National Park.
Steven met the now Executive Director of ESCC, Agnes Vianzon, when they were both BCTP supervisors for the CCC. While working together, they had many conversations concerning the nature of leadership, stewardship of the wilderness and how best to engage a more diverse population, usually late into the night over a pint or two.
Back then, she talked about starting a conservation corps. Coming full circle a decade later, Agnes invited Steven to join the ESCC board.
At ESCC, the youth benefit from an immersive opportunity to live and work in remote wilderness locations throughout California on their WILDlands and SEKI Crews.
“Within her corps, Agnes is trying to produce the next generation of leaders for the CCC, local corps like Civicorps, and state and federal agencies,” explains Steven, “by developing leadership and hard technical skills and a sense of wilderness stewardship. She’s also trying to make the wilderness more accessible to women with programs like WIW. Agnes is working with agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, N.P.S. and CA State Parks to commit to expanding their own staff to be more inclusive.”
For Steven, with his years of work with different crews in the outdoors, he sees the importance of giving opportunities to diverse groups. Even during his short time on the ESCC Board he has learned that ESCC is trying to provide equity, diversity and inclusion in outdoor spaces.
“It’s important, but not in the tokenism sense. I represent someone coming from a multi-ethnic urban experience who happened to fall in love with the mountains because of random opportunities. Opportunities that Agnes and ESCC are trying to make less random. I feel that Agnes understands this, as a queer woman of color, she represents her own unique perspective and experience in this space and she is trying to open the door wider for people like her and me.”
Growing Up, Naturally
Steven understands the importance of access and opportunity on a personal level. He grew up in the Bay Area spending many hours outside playing and working in local parks and exploring creeks. His love for the natural world blossomed during a multi-week high school experience in the Six Rivers National Forest, which sent him on a path of working closely with the land.
Three months after graduating high school, Steven joined the CCC at the Del Norte Center, located at the Mouth of the Klamath River. His favorite projects were salmon restoration and trail work. As a Backcountry Corpsmember to eventual Backcountry Supervisor, Steven spent many seasons working with crews.
“The mountains are magic, is what an old supervisor of mine would say, and they are. However, it’s the people in those mountains that drew me back year after year. The stories, laughter and the daily struggles. Don’t get me wrong the amazing adventures together were also a part of the experience, whether climbing a 12,000 ft. peak or star-gazing in the desert it was all magical.
“It was all about community, I suggest people check out the podcast ‘This American Life’, episode 727: Boulder vs. Hill. It features a CCC crew working at a fire camp. The laughter, the connectedness and raw energy can be heard listening to the crewmembers, those same things can be heard with our crews, here at Civicorps.”
Putting Community and Connectivity in Action
It’s this community and connection that drew Steven to his second board position with CAL-IPC.
Steven attended an invasive species training in southern California before the pandemic. The training provided ways to identify invasive plant species, their proper removal, and also introduced him to a new community of land managers. This led Steven to work with CAL-IPC to host a series of training for Civicorps’ supervisors and crewleaders last spring.
Beyond a general interest in carnivorous plants, Steven hopes to learn more about invasive species and how CAL-IPC can further partner with the work Civicorps and local corps all over the state do.
When asked what he would like to say to someone interested in land management or conservation work, Steven responded:
“Get your hands dirty, get out there do the work. At JTC we have 3 college students—the fact that they’re in college learning environmental studies but want to get their hands dirty with practical work I think that is inspiring and I hope Corpsmembers can learn from them.”
We think YOU’RE inspiring, Steven, and we are so lucky to have you teaching and leading by example at Civicorps.