by guest blogger Danny Swift, Job Training Supervisor
A week ago, five Conservation Interns – Avante, Joshanette, Isiah, Rosalinda, and Ta’ron – returned to the JTC mentally and physically exhausted, but above all, proud.
They had just returned from an 8-day “spike” with the California Conservation Corps
(CCC) in Stanislaus National Forest, an area just outside Yosemite that was ravaged by the 2013 Rim Fire. The crew powered through 10 hour work days like absolute champs, starting with 6:00 AM wake up calls, hour-long PTs (physical training), and a deep drive into the wilderness where they cleared fallen trees to get our trucks through dirt roads, dug out tons of brush to preserve young seedlings, and downed huge trees to thin out overly dense parts of the forest. This work was no joke. Alongside Corpsmembers, CCC reps from across the state and members from the Greater Valley Conservation Corps, our interns’ efforts were geared towards promoting and preserving the health of the forest.
In the short amount of time we were there, our crew members showed obvious improvements in their work ethic, teamwork, and leadership skills. It was awesome to see firsthand their transformations as they worked with and learned from other Corpsmembers, Crew Leaders, Specialists and Supervisors from the CCC’s and GVCC.
So, What Was It Like?
I had the chance to ask the crew to talk about their experience with the Spike – whether that was a favorite part of the trip, something they learned, or anything that stuck with them – and this is what they had to say:
I’ve learned a lot about forest restoration and how to preserve the trees. One of my favorite moments was when I jumped in the water at night with my brothers [at the Rainbow Pools]. Best part of my experience was hiking up those giant granite mountain tops. -Avante
One thing I learned about the trip was work gets done faster as a team . We saw how the CCC worked as a team and got the work done faster. My favorite part about this trip was the experience about trying new things. It was a tough trip but we got to meet new people. Civicorps should have more of these trips and encourage corps members to go. -Rosalinda
The fun experience I had on the trip was when we did the hike. Even though my body was hurting it was just was just fun to do it. -Ta’Ron
The fun part about the trip was the people I’ve went with got to learn new things about them, tell stories about our past and had s’mores, got to dance all night with these kindly people who were also there with us, got scared to death, got to climb to the top of the mountain and see some beautiful views and waterfalls, and loved the FOOD there! -Joshanette
What I learned was to not complain. Also, I know now that we work hard but there is always harder work out there. I know that there will be people you meet and relate to you just from energy or experience. I had fun with everyone especially because we jumped into a lake at like 7 or 8 PM. What else was fun was the fact that we all got things that we didn’t think we would get but it was worth it. (PS: Nature is amazing, thanks for letting me go.) -Isiah
Determined to Persevere
As for me, this experience demonstrated what our Corpsmembers are truly capable of if they allow themselves to step outside of their comfort zone. The Conservation Interns I had the pleasure of working with were determined, persevering, and strong. They exhibit what many Civicorps Corpsmembers bring to work each day, showing again that they are more than able to pursue opportunities like these after our program if they take a chance and have faith in their own abilities and devices. I could not be more proud of what these five individuals accomplished and am excited to see what they do next.
I have to give a special shout out to Steven Addison for setting the tone the first couple days of our trip and for believing so much in our Corpsmembers. I also want to give props to the staff at San Jose Family Camp (especially the cook Ruben), and all the Corpsmembers and Supervisors with the CCC who were all welcoming and made us feel at home. THANK YOU!