Looking to earn money and make friends while moving forward in your education and career? California’s 14 local corps welcome young adults from all backgrounds who are looking to gain academic and work experience. WE ARE HIRING men and women between the ages of 18 – 26 who:
- Want to earn a competitive wage
- Want to improve their communities
- Want to take care of our environment
- Want to earn a high school diploma, GED or scholarships
- Want to earn industry-recognized certificates
- Want to gain career development and life skills
- Want to join a family of likeminded people across the state
Interested in learning more? Below you can find contact information and websites for the local corps that serve your area. Contact each organization directly for up-to-date information and to take your next step.
“My local corps is helping me build my future. I got in the corps and it really gave me some stability. It got me a job while I can earn my diploma at the same time – it’s a ‘two birds with one stone’ kinda thing.”Kevin PopeGreater Valley Conservation Corps
When I first heard about the local corps, I was a high school dropout. I’d spent two years pretty much doing nothing with my life but I wanted to do something right and help out. Every first Saturday of each month, the Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps has a food bank. I like helping others so I started volunteering. I’d show up at 6 am to set up the food stations, and then hand out the food to homeless people and those who needed it. It felt good. Even though I was in a really bad place in my life, through volunteering I could do something meaningful. Helping out others made me feel more alive.
After six months, I built the confidence to talk to staff about the corps. They told me that if I didn’t have a high school diploma they could help me get one, and job training too. I needed to help my family and take this opportunity – you never know when it will come again. I joined right away. My first day, I was quite terrified. Being a high school dropout for 2 ½ years, I hadn’t been in a classroom in a while. I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. But I knew there were people willing to help me. I started communicating with other corpsmembers and I realized I wasn’t the only one in this position, which made me feel more comfortable.
The first year, all I did was work, go to school, and save my money. After a year, I had saved enough money to buy my first car, which was very impactful for my family – we always had to walk or take the bus. When I told my mom I was buying a car, when I saw her tears, it made all the sacrifices worth it. I spent a year and a half at the charter school. It was a very helpful, eye opening experience. I remember telling my mom that I completed all my credits. Seeing her at my graduation, knowing I’m the first one in my family to get a diploma, I realized how lucky I am to be living the American dream.
The counselors at my local corps made a big impact on my life. My first day there, when my counselor asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I didn’t have any idea. For me back then, a job was just about getting money. I figured I’d just work at Walmart, whatever. After several months, she encouraged me to join the 2-month SEKI-CC project in the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Forest. I had never been to a forest before, never done any conservation work, so I asked my supervisor about it. He’d been a Wildland fire fighter and convinced me to give it a try. I really wanted to get in better shape so I went back and told my counselor ok! She was really proud of me and helped me sign up.
I remember going out to the forest for the first time. I felt like I was in a different country. I had never hiked in my life but the trees were so spectacular; it’s a whole new world out there. The park was so close to me but I had never known about it. The corps gave me this opportunity. For two months, we lived in the forest, working on the trails. Sometimes we were lucky enough to work with law enforcement. It made me feel so lucky and confident! I told them that I liked working out there in the park. The patrol captain wrote me a recommendation letter, and it meant the world to me that someone in that position would look at me in that way.
When I joined the corps, I weighed 275 pounds and after this summer program, I weighed 230, which was a huge deal for me. When I came back to Fresno, my counselor teared up because I had lost so much weight and was talking about what I wanted to do with my life. Being in nature, I really found myself. I knew I wanted to work outside in the forest. So the following year, I did the same program but this time as a senior corpsmember. I felt nervous, I wasn’t expecting to be in a leadership position, but working at my local corps had given me so much confidence and taught me that if you’re scared of it, you should do it because it’s stepping out of your comfort zone.
Going back to the same forest made me realize, yeah, these are my woods. I showed the young adults how to pack their bags, how to build a fire, dig a toilet, use water filters, work on trails. I was stronger too. By the end of the summer, after lots of hard work together, looking at the stars at night, these friends had become family members. I am still friends with many of them. Some of them are in college now – I know how it feels to go through the hard times and it’s so good to see them succeed! After that summer, I knew I wanted a full time job helping others, helping our forests and our country.
I remember applying for jobs for quite a while. I didn’t get calls back but my supervisor told me to keep trying and I reminded myself to keep working harder and harder until someone noticed me. After applying for two straight years, I got a phone call. It was the captain of the Stonyford Fire department and he said: “We were wondering if you’d like to work with us for the season.” I remember getting the phone call while I was at work. Everyone was there in the office and I couldn’t believe it – out of everybody they called me! My supervisor and I were both crying. I told him YES right away, absolutely.
I remember coming home that day and telling my mom I got the fire job I’d been applying for the last 2 years – we started crying together. We were very thankful for all these opportunities, especially considering that 2 ½ years ago I wasn’t doing anything at all. Now I can really help my family. I send them money every month to help them pay the rent. It feels so great, not stressing about if my mom can put food on the table. I’m the first one to go down this path of being a fire fighter. My mom is so proud of me. You can see it on her face, every time I come home, I can see it in her attitude. I don’t see her stressing at night any more.
If someone’s offering you something, I know it can be hard to do something you don’t know, but take the opportunity. You never know where it can lead you. I’m still growing to this day. I still have to ask for help. But now, the trees are my office. These programs do work for young people who want to change their lives. If every young person had this opportunity, we’d be in a much better place, no one living on the street. From the bottom of my heart, I am thankful for my local corps and the opportunities it offers. I just consider my life to be a blessing.
FIND YOUR LOCAL CORPS
- Paola Flores San Jose Conservation Corps
“Being a part of the San Jose Conservation Corps has flipped my whole life upside down. It feels really good to be able to work with the community and see that we're cleaning up the environment. A lot of people think that it’s a man's job but there are women out there, Crew Leaders even, getting the job done.”
Hear more about Paola’s experiences with her local corps in this interview recorded in Sacramento on CALCC’s Government Education Day, 2019.
- Brandon Gilchrist Orange County Conservation Corps
"The Orange County Conservation Corps helped me get back on to my feet. When I went ahead and started working at the Orange County Conservation Corps, I didn’t really have my feet or my head on straight. I was a dropout. I didn't really want to work. But, they did a lot to help me out. I was pretty shy but helped me open up and talk to people. They put me on a track of what I would like to go ahead and do in the future."
- Starr Brock Los Angeles Conservation Corps
"I want people to know how good the program is, you know, how much it actually helps. If you are an at risk youth from ages eighteen to twenty-four, you're looking for a way out or you haven't finished high school yet and you want to take that diploma and still work at the same time, I feel like this is a great opportunity for you. If you feel like you need people in your corner to give you that push and motivation, this is also a great opportunity for that."
- Marilyn Espinosa Long Beach Conservation Corps
"Being a corps member has helped me tremendously especially because I wasn't able to afford college so I was just going to be working and it was really hard for me to find a job with no experience. This job really took me in and really helped me grow as a person, to be more outspoken and find my voice. They helped me get two different scholarships, so I was able to apply to a community college and take my generals and then I’ll transfer to a four year. I wasn't going to be able to do that because my family couldn't afford it so that was a really big benefit for me."
- Jacob Cortez Greater Valley Conservation Corps
“My local corps helps a lot with the community. It gives kids opportunities to get off of the streets and actually do something for themselves and their family. It helps them actually feel confident about themselves and gives them trades so they know, hey, I'm doing something with my life.”
Hear more about Jacob’s experiences with his local corps in this interview recorded in Sacramento on CALCC’s Government Education Day, 2019.
- Maurice Howard Greater Valley Conservation Corps
"They help you get experience, and they also help you for after you’re here, with your career path. To be honest, I didn't think I was going to be driving a Bobcat or doing any of that but they give us trainings. Since I've gotten here, I've gotten my OSHA training, forklift, confined space, and first aid certificates. Now I'm doing the excavator and working on the Bobcats. I'm learning a lot of new things. Six months ago I didn't know anything about irrigation and now could lay out a whole piping system basically all by myself."
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
All of California’s local corps are hiring year round, as well as accepting students in their affiliated schools. Please check out the map and contact the local corps in your area to learn more about the opportunities at your local corps and how to apply.
All local corps are hiring men and women aged 18-26. You do not need to have a high school diploma – we can help with that – or any previous work experience. Please check out the map and contact the local corps in your area to learn more about specific eligibility requirements and how to apply.