Into the Wild: Corpsmember Joins California Conservation Corps Backcountry Program

We’re excited to announce that Corpsmember Erica Bradley was accepted into California Conservation Corps’ Backcountry Trails Program (BCTP)!

In partnership with AmeriCorps, the Backcountry Program is an intensive, grueling, and off-the-grid adventure where crews traverse the wilderness for five months. They will maintain trails as well as learn about wilderness stewardship and exploration and environmental awareness. The program is renowned in the field and can be a jump off point for those wanting to pursue careers in conservation.

“I’m excited but a little nervous pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but I think that’s what I need to do to progress.”

And yet, Erica has been pushing outside her comfort zone since joining Civicorps in September 2021.

Before joining the Corps, Erica had been working retail and service positions. But Erica was no fan of working indoors. Through an online ad, Erica decided to apply.

“I like that it’s outdoors and saw that I would be using power tools, which I was interested in.”

And use power tools she did. Erica has earned her woodchipper, brushcutter, and chainsaw certifications, along with CPR & First Aid. With multiple “Hardest Hitter” awards recognition coming from her Crew Supervisor, Erica is no small fry when placed in a crew.

“In my opinion, Erica is in the running for the hardest working Corpsmember, period,” praises Conservation Crew Supervisor Ryan Waters. “Erica is someone who shows by example. She does her work with grace, has a wonderful attitude, and is an asset to any crew.”

Among the standout projects that she’s worked on was restoring a natural habitat for the snowy plover beside the Martin Luther King, Jr. Shoreline in the East Bay. In partnership with East Bay Regional Parks District, Erica constructed a space for the snowy plover’s mating season.

“When we did the habitat restoration, I didn’t’ even know [it was for] an endangered bird,” muses Erica.

It’s this go-getter attitude that Erica is known for at the Corps; she works hard and has a willingness to try new experiences.

“She is quiet, but is the person working last, who always volunteers without being asked. She’s incredibly insightful because she’s a good listener. People like to confide in her. I’ll be sad to see her go but very happy to see her grow,” says Ryan.

 In fact, being at the Corps has exposed Erica to learn about the different opportunities out there.

[Conservation Program Manager] Steven was talking about [the Backcountry Program], I heard ‘camping in the wilderness’ and it stuck out to me. I thought to myself, I want to do that. I had only done camping once for three days. I don’t get many chances to go out into the woods like that.”

Beyond the physical labor, the BCTP engages in community and personal development. When asked what she wanted to accomplish during her time with Civicorps, Erica responded: “Give me a sense of direction.”

With her next direction set, and the wilderness calling her name, Erica will have the time and space to reflect somewhere deep in the California backwoods. And with an open-mindedness to new opportunities, backed by her great work ethic, we have no doubt she’ll succeed in what she aims to do in the future!

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