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2012 crews hit the ground

The first few months of the year have been a flurry of activity at Conservation Corps with the hiring, orientation and training of our AmeriCorps field crew members. Training prepares members for natural resource work and puts their AmeriCorps service into a greater framework, as the rationale and impact of habitat restoration is explained during orientation.
In January, eight field specialists and 40 crew leaders began orientation and training, followed by 110 crew members in February. Orientation covered AmeriCorps policies and procedures, safety and risk management and conservation ethics. Personal development training, such as leadership, team dynamics, communication, conflict resolution and diversity, were included to prepare members for service in a team setting. In addition, natural resource professionals discussed the benefits and techniques of trail building, invasive species control, forest and prairie restoration, tree identification and best management practices to improve water quality.

In the two weeks following orientation, all crew members and leaders took part in technical skills training, such as chain saw and hand tool safety, defensive driving and trailering, and CPR/first aid. This month, all members will attend 40 hours of training in wildfire suppression and prescribed burning to receive their Red Card Certification. Most crews have begun work in the field, with the exception of northwest crew members who begin training the end of the month.

Corps activity continues. Just as orientations and trainings wrap up, we will be enrolling youth for the Youth Outdoors afterschool program, and recruiting and planning for seasonal programs.

Photo: Crew members attend orientation at Camp Friendship in Annandale, Minn.