Feb 15, 2024
USDA launches Working Lands Climate Corps initiative

The USDA has launched the Working Lands Climate Corps initiative to train the next generation of conservation and climate leaders.

As part of the American Climate Corps initiative, the Working Lands Climate Corps will provide technical training and career pathway opportunities for young people, helping them deliver economic benefits through climate-smart agriculture solutions for farmers and ranchers. The Working Lands Climate Corps, in its first cohort, will aim to create service opportunities for more than 100 young people.

Photo courtesy of the USDA.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is partnering with AmeriCorps, The Corps Network and the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) in this effort. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Xochitl Torres Small made the announcement at the National Association of Conservation Districts annual meeting in San Diego.

More than 50,000 people have expressed interest in joining the American Climate Corps — and over the past several weeks, 2,200 people have participated in American Climate Corps listening sessions.

“As part of President Biden’s historic American Climate Corps initiative, USDA’s new Working Lands Climate Corps will train a new generation of Americans to help tackle climate change in rural communities across the country,” Torres Small said in a news release.

From the Dust Bowl to climate change

The Civilian Conservation Corps traces its roots to the 1930s, during the Dust Bowl, Michael D. Smith, CEO of AmeriCorps said in the news release.

“Today, farmers are facing new a threat — climate change and droughts,” Smith said in the release.

The new American Climate Corps program seeks to restore soil health, promote sustainable farming practices, and tackle the disproportionate impacts that climate change has on the farming industry and our food, Smith said in the release.

“Managing and protecting our natural resources is a shared responsibility. The work NRCS does in collaboration with partners to improve the resilience of private lands is increasingly important as we see the mounting effects of climate change,” Mary Ellen Sprenkel, president and CEO of The Corps Network, said in the release. “Engaging young adults in this work through a Corps model offers a way to expand the reach of NRCS, train future workers in climate-smart agriculture practices, and develop a new generation of climate and community leaders.”

“Conservation Districts have a long history of partnership with the USDA and original Civilian Conservation Corps that dates back to the Dust Bowl era,” NACD Director Kim LaFleur said in the release.

The Working Lands Climate Corps is part of the American Climate Corps, a workforce training and service initiative that is working to ensure more young people have access to the skills-based training needed for good paying careers in the clean energy and climate resilience economy.

Webinars to provide more information

The Corps Network, National Association of Conservation Districts, AmeriCorps and USDA is presenting a webinar at 11:00 a.m. (ET) on Feb. 20 to provide additional information for organizations interested in applying. For more infromation, visit corpsnetwork.org/WLCC.

The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. (ET) on March 8.

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