Applications for Student Conservation Association and Friends of the Forest Preserves’ six-week Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps (CCLC) program will be accepted beginning Monday, March 6 through Friday, April 21.
CCLC is a paid service-learning experience in which students (who will be 15-19 years old by program start date and enrolled in high school or are a 2017 high school graduate) work together on a 10-12 member team to perform ecological restoration and trail maintenance projects in the Forest Preserves.
The program helps participants build both soft job skills and more technical skills. “They’ll be learning how to use tools that are pretty common in both landscaping as well as natural resource management. They’ll also be learning the basics of conservation issues in the forest preserves, and how to resolve those issues with proactive solutions,” explains Zach Taylor, conservation director for Friends of the Forest Preserves.
During the program, participants may work on projects including trail building and maintenance, building nature play areas at the Forest Preserves’ Nature Centers, erosion control work and invasive species removal. Students will also participate in environmental education days where they will learn about the local ecology and the environment at various sites throughout the region including state parks and Illinois Nature Preserves.
Typically, program organizers have found that participants have used the CCLC program as a springboard into a career in conservation.
“I think it lays the groundwork for what it means to work outside, and how to approach a day so that you’re successful. It can give you an indication as to whether or not a career in conservation is a good fit for you,” says Taylor. “This is a really good program for connecting with nature and helping local issues in the Preserves. But CCLC is also a fun and social program. It’s a really good way to meet people with similar interests and a great way to explore a little bit further beyond your back yard.”
The program positions are paid, with Crew Members earning $8.25 per hour and Crew Leaders earning $15-$17 an hour. The CCLC program begins June 26 and will run through August 4, and participants will work Monday through Friday. Interested high school students and leaders can visit fotfp.org to learn more, apply for the program online or download and print the application.