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.
Jasmine Poole's Incredible Journey
Watch to see how Jasmine is building off of her GulfCorps experience to keep learning and building her career, from a Senate internship to serving as a crew leader and mentor.
Inspired by Fire: GulfCorps Fire Song and Video
Simon Haggerty and Rolo Henderson wrote original music and lyrics for a song about their work in prescribed fire in the southeastern United States. Watch the video and read about how their collaboration began.
Simon Haggerty says it all started with picking his guitar in the evenings while living and working with a prescribed fire crew in Alabama’s longleaf pine forests.
“I played a little ditty, and our crew leader told me it was catchy,” says Simon. “That was the inspiration for a conservation-themed album.”
“And also, besides the guitar, I believe me, Simon, and Levi Brown of TNC Alabama all helped with the instrumental process as well, Simon being the guitarist,” said Rolo.
Simon is one of hundreds of people who have participated in GulfCorps, a project of TNC and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). GulfCorps was designed to create conservation jobs for young adults protecting and restoring the lands and waters around the Gulf of Mexico.
GulfCorps members have helped with a range of conservation projects, from working on prescribed fire crews to restoring oyster reefs—but writing and recording music to inspire conservation action isn’t in the job description. But that didn’t stop Simon. “I was going for something like a theme song for our work in fire,” he said.
And that’s when fellow crew member Ronald “Rolo” Henderson got involved. Simon and Rolo had become friends through a shared love of music. They stayed in touch and, over time, got together to write and record original music centered around conservation. According to Rolo, who wrote part of the lyrics, “We want this to spur something in young people. Young people can go outside, get paid, and love what they do.” As evidence of that opportunity, Rolo now works as a land steward at TNC’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve in Florida, and Simon has worked with the Student Conservation Association in California.
For Simon, it’s about connecting with nature. For me “being in nature helped me better connect with the living God. I hope what we wrote shows people that we got to experience life on a deeper level in places you don’t get to see every day. They are very healing, these places. Like sanctuaries.”
GulfCorps is led in TNC by Jeff DeQuattro, Director of Restoration for TNC’s Gulf of Mexico Program, who has spent his career caring for the coastal habitats across the Gulf of Mexico. “I feel lucky to have had the chance to work with these amazing young men, and I hope they know I, and TNC, will always be here to support them and their art. The future of the planet is in the hands of their generation—and they give me hope.”
Simon Cruz Haggerty
"GulfCorps has truly been important in my life. First and foremost it taught me passion for the work I do, and that our work is much better when we love what we are doing." Read Simon's Story
Sarah Vande Brake
"As a direct result of the skills and confidence I built with GulfCorps, I was able to get a job as a technician with one of the best agricultural research institutions in Western New York, Cornell Cooperative Extension." Read Sarah's Story
"GulfCorps put me into a situation where, after learning and training about fire, I could actually go into a conservation and fire career. I could never be more grateful than I am for what GulfCorps has done for my future." Read Courtney's Story
GulfCorps State Factsheets
In 2018 GulfCorps launched in Alabama with one Student Conservation Association (SCA) crew in Mobile, which grew to two SCA crews in Year 2. Download Alabama GulfCorps Factsheet
Crews in Florida have impacted over 1,300 acres of coastal habitats at 9 different projects during GulfCorps’ first two years. Download Florida GulfCorps Factsheet
GulfCorps launched in Louisiana in 2018. Its two crews have impacted over 100 acres of wetland and upland habitat through 7 active projects during GulfCorps’ first two years. Download Louisiana GulfCorps Factsheet
Mississippi crews are locating and removing invasive species; planting native marsh vegetation and conducting trail and boardwalk maintenance. Download Mississippi GulfCorps Factsheet
In 2018, GulfCorps launched in Galveston with a single crew, and added a crew in Corpus Christi in Year 2 of the program to expand project locations throughout Texas’ upper and middle coasts. Download Texas GulfCorps Factsheet