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Where are they now? Vincent Welder

Sixteen acres of rain gardens maintained, 784 miles of trails built and improved, 211,489 plants, trees and shrubs planted. These are just some of the many accomplishments Conservation Corps alumni contribute to each year. But what about those things that aren’t so easy to measure? A first fish caught by an inner-city youth, countless memories made with crew members, one life saved.

2015 Youth Outdoors alumnus Vincent Welder joined the Corps after a near-death experience. “This incident caused me to be very depressed and drop out of college,” said Vincent. “If it wasn’t for Conservation Corps, I’m not sure where I’d be right now. For the first time in years, my life had purpose. I was surrounded by good people who cared about me.”

Vincent’s tragic experience motivated him to give back. He committed to a year of service with the Corps, building boardwalks, improving rain gardens, removing invasive species and leading young people. “I was very happy teaching youth about the environment and providing life lessons when I could. The leadership position really helped me grow as a person,” he said.

Knowing that he was helping people truly made all the difference for Vincent. Now he is back in school, studying Environmental Science at University of Minnesota — Duluth UMD. “A lot of what this organization does for others, including me, is intangible,” said Vincent. “The person I was before my term, and the person I am now could not be more different. The Conservation Corps changed my life in the best way possible.”