FAIRHOPE, Alabama – One of the most successful restoration programs to come out of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill settlement of legal claims officially entered its seventh year this week in Fairhope, Alabama. GulfCorps, which employs young adults in coastal restoration projects across the Gulf, is convening in Fairhope to kick off orientation for its newest class.
“GulfCorps Orientation is always the most inspiring week of the year,” said GulfCorps program director Jeff DeQuattro. “The GulfCorps Program puts an important emphasis on workforce development for our participants while also providing the best available professional skills training such as chainsaw operation and the application of prescribed fire. Professional skills training gives participants the knowledge and ability to be safe and effective while working in the field. The workforce development training teaches them how to communicate well and prepares them for landing a job in the environmental field after their term ends. Orientation is where we set the stage for this ongoing training and prepare GulfCorps members and their leaders to undertake tangible and useful restoration and conservation projects in all five Gulf states.”
Eleven GulfCorps crews and up to 80 Corps members will participate in the annual training held at Beckwith Camp and Conference Center. The program is funded by grants from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration (RESTORE) Council to NOAA, with the money coming from the Civil Penalties resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010. GulfCorps is led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in partnership with The Corps Network (TCN) and the Student Conservation Association (SCA). To accomplish the work in the field, TNC contracts with five local organizations across the Gulf to manage the 11 GulfCorps crews.
“The seven-year performance of GulfCorps clearly demonstrates that young adults working in well-trained crews can make an important contribution to Gulf restoration while acquiring skills that can lead to meaningful long-term employment,” said Bob Bendick, Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico Program. “GulfCorps’ success is a sign of hope for the future of the Gulf of Mexico and the people who live along its shores.”
Since its inception, the GulfCorps program has had a tremendous impact across the Gulf of Mexico region. So far, GulfCorps has:
- Employed and trained 570 young adults across all five Gulf states.
- Assisted and trained 373 of those young people to obtain jobs in natural resources and related fields.
- Worked with more than 60 government and non-profit partners to restore and conserve more than 23,000 acres of land.
- Responded to several natural disasters to help in short-term recovery.
These successes could not have been achieved without the good work of TNC’s local partners, which manage GulfCorps crews, including:
- Franklin’s Promise for the crews in Apalachicola, Panama City, and Pensacola, Florida
- Student Conservation Association for crews in Mobile, Alabama, and Corpus Christi, Texas
- Climb Community Development Corporation for the crew in Biloxi/Gulfport, Mississippi
- Limitless Vista, Inc. for the crew based in New Orleans, Louisiana
- American Youth Works with crews based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Houston/Galveston, Texas
Project sponsors are the owners and managers of the land on which the corps work, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Systems, state parks in the five Gulf states, National Estuarine Research Reserves, and local governments.
Additional information is available at: www.nature.org/GulfCorps.
The Nature Conservancy: The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters, and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org/gulf.