GulfCorps in the Gulf of Mexico
Restoration project that aims to create 300 jobs over three years along the Gulf of Mexico.
Restoring the Gulf’s Environment and Economy
GulfCorps, a project of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), aims to create jobs for hundreds of young adults along the Gulf of Mexico. With the support of the RESTORE Council (Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revised Economies of the Gulf Coast States), GulfCorps protects and restores the Gulf’s lands and waters while creating jobs through conservation corps in the five Gulf states (Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas). These crews are teams of young adults restoring the natural features and habitats on critical conservation lands.
GulfCorps launched in 2017 when NOAA awarded a $7 million grant to TNC for the creation of the program, a collaboration of TNC, the Student Conservation Association (SCA), and The Corps Network (TCN). GulfCorps mobilized with one crew in each of the five Gulf states in early 2018. By the program’s third year, we plan to have three crews in each state, totaling 15 GulfCorps crews. This project was made possible through funding received from the NOAA Restoration Center and RESTORE Act.
A Busy Winter for the GulfCorps Program
By Christina Wayne—GulfCorps Program Specialist
Saying the 10 GulfCorps crews for Year 2 have been busy in Quarter 1 is an understatement. From Corpus Christi, TX, to Apalachicola, FL, the crews trained, learned and worked hard.
Since the addition of five more crews to GulfCorps in Year 2, the working season started with two orientations at Camp Beckwith in Fairhope, AL. The Student Conservation Association (SCA) and The Corps Network (TCN) staff and trainers provided stellar learning and networking opportunities for seasoned and new crews alike in two four-day sessions. From group dynamics to mapping, the gamut of restoration and conservation was covered.
The Nature Conservancy’s Alabama Coastal Programs staff took students into Weeks Bay for some hands-on basic aquatic monitoring training. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) staff taught land-based reporting and monitoring techniques. TCN staff gave the crew members insight into the leader/follower dynamic as well as the impact of working as a team to problem solve. SCA trainers emphasized the need to Leave No Trace behind in environmental work as well as homing in on diversity, inclusion and equity. Guest speakers conveyed their expertise on wide-ranging subjects from sea turtles to invasive species.
Crew members even had the chance to interact with current and former professionals from organizations such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), The Weeks Bay Foundation, Audubon Mississippi, The Nature Conservancy’s Human Resources department, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Members also heard from the Executive Director of the RESTORE Council and a representative from the Governor of Louisiana’s Office of Coastal Activities as keynote speakers.
When the crews weren’t working at National Wildlife Refuges (NWR), State Parks or National Forests, they were learning even more at Camp Tiak in Wiggins, MS. The Forest Stewards Guild (FSG) came out to Mississippi from Colorado and New Mexico for three training sessions in November and December. All 10 crews attended a four-day session of S-212, Wildland Fire Chain Saws, and have several certified sawyers on their teams now. Eight of the crews sent select individuals to attend the six-day Firefighter Type II training which covered S-130, Firefighter Training; S-190, Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior; and L-180, Human Factors in the Wildland Fire Service. Leading up to the Firefighter Type II training, crew members also had to complete a 100- and 700-level Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) incident management system course plus pass the Arduous Pack Test to be certified to help with prescribed burns on federal land.
In addition to all this, Florida and Mississippi crews did some heavy lifting in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. The Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast, the Conservation Corps of the Emerald Coast, and the CLIMB Conservation Corps all helped the Apalachicola area begin recovery efforts immediately following the storm. Limitless Vistas, Inc., in New Orleans helped keep Bayou Sauvage NWR clean, safe and open to the public during the partial government shut-down. Our crews have a lot to brag about: hands-on learning combined with relevant soft-skills training has led to real world successes!
Meet Two of Our GulfCorps Alumni, Sarah Vande Brake and Courtney Gullo
Sarah Vande Brake worked for the Aqua Crew out of the Houston office of the Texas Conservation Corps for six months. Courtney Gullo served as Crew Leader of the Louisiana Conservation Corps (LaCC) from August 2018 through March 2019. Find out how GulfCorps is shaping their careers.
Learn more about the organizations working together through GulfCorps to restore the Gulf of Mexico :