Five Fabulous Interns, Eight Amazing Days at Yosemite Spike

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.

Exploring Tuolumne Meadows and hiking Lembert Dome

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

Ta’aron and Rosalinda clearing brush around conifer seedlings

 

 

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

 

 

Joshanette makes felling trees look easy

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

 

 

Sunset on our final night

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!

Filed under: BlogTagged with: , ,

Civicorps goes to Sacramento

They left Oakland at the crack of dawn outfitted in their Corps gear and prepped to tell their personal stories. They arrived in Sacramento early but bright-eyed, enjoyed the beauty of our state Capitol building and got ready to spend the day repping Civicorps.  Along with dozens of other Corpsmembers from around California, Blake Singletary, Monique Pena and Xiana Herrera confidently strode the halls of our state capitol yesterday on CALCC’s Government Ed Day.

Four lucky Civicorps staff – Tessa Nicholas, Joseph Billingsley, Rodney Dunn and Rachel Eisner – accompanied them and watched them shine throughout a dizzying array of meetings with legislative offices.  Thank you to the wonderful staff at the offices of Assemblymembers Tim Grayson, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Jim Frazier, Buffy Wicks, Rob Bonta and Senators Nancy Skinner and Steve Glazer for warmly welcoming us and learning about our work.  And special thanks to the Assemblymember Kansen Chu himself for a terrific conversation along with our friends at the San Jose Conservation Corps.

Once a year, the 14 Corps represented by the California Association of Local Conservation Corps converge in Sacramento to spread the word about why CALCC is such an important part of transforming communities in California.  We are all so lucky to be part of a community that’s working on issues like conserving energy, finding cost-effective solutions to environmental concerns AND helping young people find alternatives to youth unemployment, incarceration and substance abuse.

Blake, Monique and Xiana powerfully represented what Civicorps offers to young adults by describing their individuals paths to our doors, and proudly listed their accomplishments in tool certifications, Honor Roll listings, and more.  As Xiana explained, “I was skeptical at first and thought this would be just another high school.  But I got told I had potential and it made me feel welcome.”  December 2018 graduate and current Food Program Intern Monique described how growing up in Oakland, she never felt the kind of support from schools or other institutions that she found here; “they want to see you thrive,” she said, “rather than put you behind bars.”  And Blake humorously described how he originally left our program after one week, but returned and is now poised to complete his requirements this year. “I have accomplished a lot that I wouldn’t have thought I could” at Civicorps.

We finished the marathon day of meetings with a fabulous photo op with all the Corpsmembers who traveled to Sacramento from up and down California.  The sun was shining, the friendships were blossoming, the #LocalCorpsStrength pride was bursting.  What a wonderful day!  It felt fantastic to spread our message about positively transforming our communities all over California.

 

Filed under: Blog, NewsTagged with: , , , ,

Pitching Innovative Solutions

Innovative Solutions

On June 3 & 4th, our students worked with local activists to design solutions for Oakland’s most pressing problems and pitched their ideas to a panel of community leaders at our latest Leadership Summit.

The two-days of listening, learning, and planning was focused on the central question: What can youth do to help make Oakland a better place to live, work, and learn?

This summit provided an opportunity for our young leaders to listen, be heard, respectfully disagree, ask questions and VOICE. A new wave of summit participants stepped into their power and pitched innovative solutions to our community leader panel.

Pitching Innovative Solutions / Civicorps

Community Leader Panel:

  • Isabel Cortes, Representative from State Senator Loni Hancock’s office
  • Diego Gonzales, Representative from Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s office
  • Captain Drennon Lindsey, Oakland Police Department
  • Mark Salinas, National Equity Project

Leadership Summit, June 2015

Pitches Presented:

  • Civicare – Affordable, reliable childcare at Civicorps . No more missed work. More time with children. Earned distinction for being Most Feasible Idea.
  • Is Minimum Wage a Livable Wage? – Raise minimum wage incrementally to $15. Earned distinction for being Most Data-Driven Presentation.
  • Changing the Learning Environment – A Coalition of Parents, Teachers, and Students working together to reduce class size and lobby for more tutors to ignite the passion and confidence in students. Earned distinction for bring Most Creative Presentation.
  • Stay Fresh! – Cleaning up the streets of Oakland. Civicorps to get contracts with the City of Oakland to clean up the city. Creating jobs for youth in the community would impact crime and violence rates. Earned distinction for being Most Innovative Solution.

Leadership Summit, June 2015

Student Reflections:

“We have the people. We have the ideas. We just have to take action!”

“I learned how to find my voice and work as a team. I learned how to be confident in my own skin.”

“We can get closer to our dream of utopia in Oakland if students get more politically involved. Be passionate. Be prepared. Be confident.”

 Check out all of the photos from the Leadership Summit!

Filed under: Student SpotlightTagged with: , , ,

Healing Trauma at a Personal + Community Level

On October 17th, Civicorps hosted a one-day health summit where guest speakers spoke to our students about different ways that we experience trauma and then each group brainstormed ways to cope with stressors at both a personal and community level.

Dr. Darlene Hall, our keynote speaker, spoke about inter-generational trauma. Afterwards, students attended two break-out sessions led by a Civicorps student leader and one of the following guest speakers.

  • Physical Health: Jerrell Peters and Brian Burrell, Young Invincibles
  • Psychological Trauma: Dania Sacks March, At the Intersection Wellness
  • Healthy Relationships: Mauro Sifuentes, Family Violence Law Center
  • Substance Abuse: Robert Faltisco, MA, CADCA
  • Trauma-Informed Care at Civicorps: Harris Cox, Mindfulness Coach

The student leader from each break-out session then presented their group’s brainstormed lists of:

  • Personal and community impacts of trauma, and
  • Tools and strategies to mitigate the negative effects of trauma.

Health Summit Presentation / Healing Trauma at a Personal + Community Level / Civicorps

Some student reflections from the summit were:

“I plan to take time to breathe, plan ahead, and stop stressing.”

“This Health Summit makes me want to eat healthier and to walk away when upset.”

“It showed me that health is really important to me, my family, and my community.”

“I am looking forward to changing my life for my own good.”

After the presentations, Civicorps hosted a resource fair where students could speak with local providers and access resources.

Health Fair / Health Summit Presentation / Healing Trauma at a Personal + Community Level / Civicorps

Each student received a travel hygiene kit for participating in the Health Summit, which was proudly sponsored by a grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board.To see more pictures from our Health Summit, check out our Facebook Page.

Filed under: NewsTagged with: , , , , , ,