Youth Conservation and Education Programs in the Spotlight

The Southwest Conservation Corps, Western Colorado Conservation Corps and Canyon Country Youth Corps, as well as their river restoration director, Mike Wight, have received the Phil James Conservation Award

Denver | December 12, 2013

The Nature Conservancy is proud to announce the Southwest Conservation Corps, Western Colorado Conservation Corps and Canyon Country Youth Corps, along with their river restoration director, Mike Wight, as the recipients of the Phil James Conservation Award. The Phil James Conservation Award is given to an individual or organization for extraordinary contributions or achievements that further the mission of The Nature Conservancy.

This award honors Phil James’ unsurpassed passion and dedication for conservation. He began volunteering for The Nature Conservancy in 1986 when he helped found the Nebraska Chapter. Through the years, he served on the Conservancy’s Board of Trustees in Nebraska, Colorado and Alaska. James works tirelessly to support the Conservancy. His leadership and generosity has made an impact on us and for future generations

The Nature Conservancy in Colorado is paying tribute to Wight and the Conservation Corps for their willingness to take on one of the west’s most daunting restoration challenges – removing invasive plants and restoring habitat along 175 miles of the Dolores River, a tributary of the Colorado River. Additionally, the Conservation Corps worked along the Gunnison River. They built rock structures to improve wetland habitat. Corps members, ages 18-26, have diverse backgrounds and are selected from local communities and across the country. Through the restoration work, corps members are learning valuable life and job skills.

“Mike goes the extra mile when it comes to engaging young people,” says Peter Mueller, the Conservancy’s southwest Colorado program director. “He is fostering and inspiring a new generation of conservationists who are committed to solving our most pressing challenges.”

“Strong partnerships are the key to conservation successes,” says Mike Wight, River Restoration Director. “We are grateful to The Nature Conservancy and many other partners who support these important programs. We know that by working together we can protect our lands and waters for generations to come.”The Conservation Corps are credited with getting young people on the right track and shaping our future.

“Mike’s passionate leadership has put so many young men and women in places where they contribute, learn and change the way they see themselves,” adds Tim Sullivan, the Conservancy in Colorado’s state director.

So far, working with these three corps programs, the Dolores River Restoration Partnership has created 175 jobs for young adults and restored 821 acres. This is part of an even bigger effort to create a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps through the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. The goal of 21st CSC is increase youth opportunities in the country from a current 30,000 to 100,000 on an annual basis.  This Initiative will put Americans to work, protect our greatest treasures, and build America’s future.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Tracey Stone


   Please leave this field empty
x animal

Sign up for Nature eNews!

Sign Up for Nature e-News

Learn about the places you love. Find out
how you can help.

Thank you for joining our online community!

We’ll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates and exciting stories.

Please leave this field empty

I'm already on the list!

Read our privacy policy.