DEEP: CT Conservation Corps Workers Gaining Job Experience, Improving Parks and Forests

September 25, 2012
 
CT Conservation Corps Workers Gaining Job Experience, Improving Parks and Forests
Building a Foundation for Future Employment Opportunities
 

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Dan Esty and Department of Labor Acting Commissioner Dennis C. Murphy today announced that 60 young men and women have helped improve state parks and forests this summer while learning valuable job skills as part of the Connecticut Conservation Corps program (CCC).
 
At an event today to meet the CCC workers and see them at work at Kettletown State Park, Southbury, Commissioner Esty said, “The original CCC helped transform our national and state park system, including parks in Connecticut, and provided valuable experience for the young men who participated. This tradition continues with today’s emphasis on preparing youth to obtain jobs, many of which will be in the ‘Green Job’ sector.”
 
“The federal Labor Department estimates more than three million green jobs exist nationwide, and that number continues to grow everyday,” noted Acting Labor Commissioner Murphy. “The work accomplished through Connecticut’s own Conservation Corps represents improved park facilities as well as an investment in our future workforce. The goal is to provide participants with skills that can be transferred to well-paying careers, and the knowledge they have obtained this summer is the first step in this process.”
 
The crews this summer were made up of young men and women, ages 18-25, with a variety of backgrounds, including military veterans who have returned home and are looking to learn new marketable skills. The program ran 6-8 weeks, depending upon the location of the workers, and participants were paid $8.25 per hour.
 
This is the final week of the 2012 program and those completing the program are eligible to earn the OSHA 10 Construction Certificate, First Aid/CPR certification, and a pesticide operator’s certification.  Workers have gained knowledge of chain saw use, carpentry and trail design and maintenance. A new component of the program this year was geared toward providing the workers with skills that can be transferred to future careers.
 
The CCC program, modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help lift the nation out of the Depression, is made possible with $500,000 in funding from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). 
 
Partners in the effort, in addition to DECD, include the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Department of Labor (DOL), the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission (CETC) and its Green Jobs Partnership, the State Workforce Investment Board, Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, the Eastern Workforce Investment Board, and several community agencies.
 
Projects for this year’s CCC crews included sanding and staining interiors of new camping cabins, clearing hiking trails, building picnic tables, cutting back overgrown areas and removing invasive plants. Work took place at the following locations:
 
Western Connecticut Region
• Kettletown State Park, Southbury
• Southford Falls State Park, Oxford
• Macedonia Brook State Park, Kent
• Lake Waramaug State Park, Kent
 
Eastern Connecticut Region
• Quaddick State Forest, Thompson
• Goodwin State Forest, Hampton
• Natchaug State Forest, Eastford & Chaplin
 
The work done by these crews does not replace work tasks by DEEP employees but rather complements them, allowing state workers to focus on other immediate needs.
 
“What these young people are achieving this summer goes far beyond improvements made to our parks and forests,” Commissioner Esty added. “The occupational and specific skills training they are gaining will provide them with the experience and knowledge to build a foundation for future employment opportunities. They are also learning the importance of teamwork and communication, and gaining decision-making and leadership skills – qualities that will follow them the rest of their lives.”
 
“Green employment today includes solar power installations, farming, biology, research or urban planning, and each job plays an important role in rebuilding the economy and improving our quality of life,” Acting Commissioner Murphy noted. “Careers in these fields often require knowledge in planning, setting goals, marketing and project management – all valuable skills that have become an important component in the Connecticut’s Conservation Corps experience.”

History of the CCC in Connecticut
Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s Connecticut had 22 CC camps, and approximately 200 to 250 young men lived at each site. Participants went to work in what were at that time, largely undeveloped state parks. 
 
Workers built trails, roads, fire towers and picnic shelters and planted trees in many parks. Specific projects included building dams that created swimming areas at Chatfield Hollow State Park, Killingworth and Pachaug State Forest, Voluntown; clearing the recreation area for Squantz Pond, New Fairfield; improvements to Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison; and the construction of the forest rangers’ homes at Shenipsit, Chatfield Hollow, Pachaug and Tunxis state parks.
 
CCC Across the Nation
The CCC was established by President Roosevelt shortly after he took office. Nicknamed Roosevelt’s “Tree Army,” the CCC created work at a time when jobs where scarce and to helped complete environmental conservation projects in an era when soil erosion and deforestation had ravaged much of the nation’s landscape. 
 
Nearly 3.5 million young men were enrolled in the CCC from 1933 until 1942, when it was disbanded as manpower needs for World War II grew.
 
Young men ages 17 to 21, as well as veterans of the Spanish American War and World War I, were eligible to serve. They signed up for six-month stints and lived in military-style camps run by military officers. They were paid $1 a day and required to send $25 of their pay back home to their families every month.