Conservation Corps Minnesota
Restoring resources, changing lives.
Conservation Corps Minnesota provides meaningful work for young people in managing natural resources, responding to disasters, conserving energy and leading volunteers. They provide training in resource management, safety, job-readiness and technical skills, helping young people develop personal responsibility, a strong work ethic and greater awareness of environmental stewardship.
Each year, 10-12 members of the Summer Youth Corps, one of the Corps programs for youth ages 15-18, work at the Steger homestead on a variety of experiential learning projects, such as laying foundations, building stone walls, removing brush and undergrowth, and many other things. In addition to the great hands-on work experience, young people on the crews have a unique opportunity to learn from and be inspired by Will Steger.
The Summer Youth Corps program changes the lives of young people as they spend the summer working and living outdoors without the daily intrusions of digital music devices, cell phones and video games. As they work on projects that improve outdoor access, water quality and wildlife habitat, they learn skills in natural resource management, working with hand tools, resume writing and interviewing, and civic leadership. The program helps Conservation Corps achieve its organizational goals of connecting youth to the environment, engaging them in leadership development activities and preparing them for future employment.
Youth in the program work in crews of six, each facilitated by two young adult AmeriCorps crew leaders. Each day, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, the crews spend seven hours on project work and one hour on formal education, with a break for lunch. Less formal programming and organized meals are offered in the evenings and on weekends. Recreational activities often include canoeing, hiking and visits to area museums and historic sites.
Working with the Steger Wilderness Center provides a unique opportunity for Conservation Corps to fulfill its mission. By assisting with completion of the Center, the youth crews contribute to a place that will help bring together environmental decision makers. Most of the crew members have not been involved with a project of this scale and vision. They also have an amazing opportunity to talk with and learn directly from Will Steger, as he shares stories about expeditions, adventures and his work on behalf of the environment.
Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa provides hands-on environmental stewardship and service-learning opportunities to youth and young adults while accomplishing conservation, natural resource management and emergency response work. The goals of Summer Youth Corps are to help young people from diverse backgrounds become more connected to the environment, engaged in natural resource conservation, involved in the community and prepared for future employment.
Program Director, Eric Antonson, has successfully managed the Corps’ youth programs since 2005 and has been involved with corps work for about 13 years, starting as a crew leader in the Conservation Corps in 2001. He also served as a team leader with the National Civilian Community Corps. Today he oversees the Youth and Individual Placement programs, including the Summer Youth Corps. He holds a B.S. in Teaching Life Science from the University of Minnesota Duluth and is completing a master’s in nonprofit administration through Metropolitan State University.
For more information, visit the Conservation Corps website.