“EarthCorps cultivates leaders and community partnerships to advance environmental justice.”
— EarthCorps Mission
Young adults and those who mentor them at the Seattle-based nonprofit EarthCorps have a big vision: An equitable world where all people and nature thrive together.
EarthCorps mission spells out the organization’s role in achieving that world.
How EarthCorps meets its mission
The organization brings young adults from around the country and world who are passionate about environmental preservation to participate in a year-long leadership training program in Seattle. Their classroom? Puget Sound’s diverse ecosystem.
Each year 40 new program participants between the ages of 18 and 25 join EarthCorps as working crew members. Thirty crew members are from around the United States with their positions funded by the national Americorps, while 10 crew positions are filled by young people from around the world. They follow best practices for environmental restoration and stewardship by actively participating in field projects that protect and restore the local ecosystems, increase access to nature, and address the effects of climate change on local environments. All of that work is grounded in a commitment to racial equity and environmental justice.
What participants/crew gain
Crew members learn to work collaboratively, lead community volunteers and guide technical restoration projects along shorelines and trails and in forests. The hope is they will take what they learn during their year in Seattle and use it to tackle pressing environmental issues in their own communities and worldwide – climate change, pollution, environmental justice, and ecological degradation.
Britt Le served on an EarthCorps crew for a year right after college, when she wasn’t sure what direction she wanted to go with her life and work.
“I was young and didn’t know what I wanted to do as a job and I thought, well, I’ve always wanted to work outside and I’ve always wanted to use my hands to shape the world.” Le says. Today, years later, Le is an EarthCorps senior manager.
“EarthCorps crew was and continues to be an entry-level job,” Le says. “Folks that enter the program don’t need any sort of background in environmental restoration or science or any sort of technical skills, which is of a lot of benefit to people who are just trying to enter the field. So despite the fact that I had no background in any of these areas, EarthCorps recognized that I had passion and interest in the outdoors and in working in the outdoors industry.”
The idea of EarthCorps came to founder Dwight Wilson while he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile and Honduras. He wanted to create a Peace Corps for the Earth. In 1993, Wilson and several friends launched the program that would become the year-long EarthCorps program, bringing young environmentalists from many different countries together to plant trees, exchange perspectives, learn through service, and return home to implement projects and share what they learned.
Since then, more than 1,000 young leaders and 200,000 community volunteers have worked together to improve the waters and lands throughout Puget Sound.
EarthCorps partners with schools throughout the region, customizing service-oriented outdoor environmental projects and environmental curriculum. To learn more about how your school can collaborate with the organization, go to the school partnership page at EarthCorps.org.
How volunteers can help
Each year, more than 10,000 youth, business leaders, and community members step up to volunteer in EarthCorps’ efforts to sustain and restore public parks for future generations. Volunteer events are open to all ages, although kids under age 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Le says whole families often join events as a way to volunteer together and spend time outdoors. EarthCorps provides all the tools needed to participate, including gloves and smaller sized tools where needed.
“One of the best ways for people to become engaged in environmental stewardship is to be involved in it when they are young,” says Le. “I’ve seen children let go of concerns they have about being outside in the rain or cold or mud and have fun.
“The goal of the volunteer program is not to do work, it’s for volunteers to enjoy their time outside.”
Volunteers are invited to come for as long as they like and do as much or as little as they are able.
“If a child spends all their time rolling in the mud, as long as their parent is comfortable, that sounds great to me,” says Le.
EarthCorps index card
Area of interest: Environment
- Volunteer: EarthCorps welcomes volunteers of all ages to help keep city parks and forests healthy. Staff and volunteer leaders teach everything volunteers need to know, including tool safety, forest health, and the importance of the specific tasks that help improve the forests and parks. Tasks include activities such as: removing aggressive weeds like English Ivy and Himalayan Blackberry, planting native trees and shrubs, spreading mulch and more.
- Host an international participant in your home.
- Join special EarthCorps events.
Contact: 6310 NE 74th St., Suite 201E, Seattle, WA 98115; Phone: (206)322-9296; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get dirty with EarthCorps on January 15
Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a day of service in 105-acre Wilburton Hill Park. By planting native shrubs and trees, volunteers will be helping to protect Wilburton forest health, which is crucial to healthy ecosystems in Bellevue.
No experience is necessary for this EarthCorps event. Tools, gloves, snacks, coffee, tea and water will be provided. Kids under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or responsible adult. Volunteers between 14 and 17 need a signed City of Bellevue Liability Waiver if a parent or responsible adult is not present.
Volunteers will meet at the park, located at 12400 Main St. in Bellevue, starting at 10 a.m. For full details check out the event page.
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