Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps
Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps (ESCC) is a new 501(c)(3) non-profit youth development program based in the Eastern Sierra Mountains of California. We aim to provide opportunities for young people to experience and better understand their wilderness natural resources.
ESCC is committed to building a stronger and more inclusive outdoor community and we focus recruitment from underserved and marginalized populations. By way of hard work, new environments, education, and guidance on an intimate group level, our members will be given a role in creating new life experiences. Through work in the wilderness, our members will undergo a transformational experience, breaking boundaries, learning about themselves and others, and form a deep appreciation of the outdoors.
We intend on implementing local programs as well as projects throughout the Sierra Nevada and California, including along the John Muir Trail. Program examples include, but are not limited to, a 12-week wilderness immersive trail-building program; a trail working task force made of program alumni and other partner program alumni to complete or assist in short-term, emergency-based, or expressly technical projects; all women’s crews and backpacking trips; and/or a 2-week all ages programs that may include multiple aspects of resource work.
Through individual service learning we are engaging youth in protecting their remaining wild lands. We will provide our members opportunities to learn about conservation education, sustainability issues, citizen science, natural history, botany, geology, archeology, wilderness ethics, Leave No Trace principles, backpacking, trail stewardship, and much more.
Through community based events that foster good relations, and providing access and nature contact, we also hope to engage the public in community based environmental education and environmental protection. Although ESCC will have a seasonal focus, some community events and member service may occur year-round.
We will partner with the National Park Service, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, CA State Parks and other agencies for contracts for service as well as apply for AmeriCorps and other grants.
Our board, officers, staff, and leaders have a diverse range of experiences and qualifications including technical expertise in trail building and wilderness management, leadership in youth development programs, managerial and business foundations, and a strong commitment to environmental stewardship. We employ a systems based evidentiary approach of best field practices taken from other successful and thriving youth conservation corps as well as experience in partnership with federal and state land management agencies including the NPS, USFS and CA State Parks.
ESCC will provide opportunities for youth and young adults from populations that have been underrepresented in our National Parks and Forests. We will facilitate a nature connection and experience that fosters a better understanding of wilderness natural resources, and provide a pathway for obtaining a high school diploma and/or community college coursework. In addition to this goal of furthering traditional education, our participants will experience transformative, transgressive learning within the program through outdoor education.
The first, and often most powerful experience comes from stepping out entirely into the outdoors. We will place our crew members outside of the inner city, bounds of social and economic hierarchy, and social settings that distract from the core human tenants of life. Beyond a new set of “hard” skills, we teach our crew members that survival depends upon smart decision making and good judgment, stems from resourcefulness, and shares equally in self-reliance and partnership with those around you. A task at hand, a unified plan, the sharing of daily life duties, and the removal of technological influence builds a community where our members learn that success comes from honoring a shared goal and commitment and starts with accountability and honesty.
In addition to our member focus, community education and outreach activities aim to partner with the local public to foster an understanding of evidentiary based best land management practices and facilitate environmental stewardship opportunities. From building a trail to building a community, our partnerships are built on transparency and forward-thinking efficiency.