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Happy Birthday AmeriCorps!

Posted by Wendy Wasserman, USDA Office of Communications in Conservation Food and Nutrition Forestry
Feb 21, 2017

As AmeriCorps celebrates its 20th anniversary, USDA salutes the deep relationship we’ve had with these remarkable volunteers and service members. From engaging in critical natural conservation efforts to helping kids learn more about nutrition and gardening to working directly with local organizations in communities enduring chronic poverty, USDA is proud to be an AmeriCorps partner.

AmeriCorps service crews are working side by side with the Forest Service to protect public lands and fight fires.  For instance, a recently announced $3.8 million partnership between AmeriCorps and the USDA’s Forest Service and over 100 other organizations participating in the 21st Century Conservation Corps, creates service opportunities for 300 new AmeriCorps members.  Through this opportunity, military veterans and youth restore our treasured public lands by rebuilding trails, managing forests and rehabilitating campsites for generations to enjoy. These service members are also doing critical wildfire management activities like tree thinning, prescribed burns and hazardous fuel control. Meanwhile, in northwest California, the AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Project is restoring coastal watersheds from San Francisco to the Oregon border.  This effort, a partnership between the California Department of Fish and Game, Humboldt State University, and other members of the fisheries, watershed and science community, has been going strong for twenty years.

USDA is also a proud supporter of FoodCorps. This AmeriCorps program places volunteers in schools to bring local and regionally grown foods into the cafeteria and provide nutrition education to students, helping to empower our next generation with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about what they eat. Through these efforts, 182 service members have built more than 400 school gardens, reaching over 120,000 kids in schools across 16 states and the District of Columbia. As an added bonus, those same FoodCorps members helped to harvest an additional 40,000 pounds of produce, which was donated to families in need in their local communities.

A new partnership with USDA’s Tribal College Program and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service will place 125 AmeriCorps VISTA members in some of our nation's most underserved and impoverished communities. These AmeriCorps members will work with local non-profits in 32 states and territories to address the root causes of poverty and protect America's natural resources, heritage, and tribal cultures. Meanwhile, 52 AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers were placed in rural eastern Kentucky as part of the Obama Administration's Promise Zone Initiative to create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, and reduce violent crime.

The 900,000 AmeriCorps members that have served over the past 20 years are the best that America has to offer.  They know how to get things done, and coast to coast, they are making a difference. Thank you AmeriCorps for all you've done in 20 years, and we look forward to decades of continued success.

AmeriCorps members are restoring trails like the one pictured here, managing forests and working on other critical land management activities.
AmeriCorps members are restoring trails like the one pictured here, managing forests and working on other critical land management activities.