June 14 2002

Life After High School? You Can Find It in the CCC

From firefighting to public service, the California Conservation Corps is offering June graduates an adventurous alternative to fast-food work.

Young men and women between the ages of 18 and 23 can sign up for a paid year of natural resource work, emergency response and community involvement. The CCC has residential and nonresidential facilities throughout the state, and corpsmembers work out of more than 40 urban, suburban and rural locations.

Those with high school diplomas can focus on environmental education and specialized training in the CCC, with the potential to earn up to $4,000 in scholarships during a year in the Corps. Young people without diplomas can obtain a GED or high school diploma while in the CCC, and also take advantage of the scholarships.

CCC Recruitment Manager John Martinez said the Corps is ideal for those interested in exploring future careers, as it helps corpsmembers develop the job skills employers are looking for. “If young people show commitment and have the raw potential to succeed, we can provide them with the skills to become successful,” Martinez said. “And I believe it, because I was a corpsmember myself more than 20 years ago.”

Martinez said the program also offers great opportunities for service. “It’s a chance to give back to the community, a chance to get your hands dirty while doing environmental work,” he said.

Typical projects include building trails in sate parks, landscaping a city playground, improving salmon habitat long the North Coast, planting trees for the U.S. Forest Service or weatherizing a senior citizen’s home. When natural disasters occur, CCC crews are dispatched to respond within hours to fires, floods and earthquakes.

The Corps has two fire centers operated jointly with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Corpsmembers at these locations gain experience they find invaluable for careers as professional firefighters.

Once in the CCC, corpsmembers can apply for special programs, such as the Backcountry Trails program, the Australian work exchange and leadership training.

For more information on joining the California Conservation Corps, call toll-free, 1-800-952-JOBS (5627) or visit the CCC’s Web site: www.ccc.ca.gov.

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