By NICK CHILDS
EBCI Natural Resources intern
The Indigenous Conservation Corps (ICC) started its eight-week service and conservation program on June 6, emphasizing traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and natural resource conservation. It is an all-Indigenous corps in partnership with the EBCI, Tribal Employment Rights Office (T.E.R.O.), Bureau of Indian Affairs, Conservation Legacy, AmeriCorps, Conservation Corps NC, and the U.S. Forest Service.
The ICC, which is under Conservation Corps North Carolina, seeks to blend TEK, stewardship, and modern science. It is designed to give crew members the skills and training they would need in a conservation and outdoor industry career. EBCI’s part in this is an ongoing plan to bring more jobs for tribal members and equip members with skills to secure and maintain jobs, as well as reconnecting people with the land.
Tommy Cabe, Tribal Forest resource specialist, said “It’s in our DNA as Indigenous people to work in this landscape.” The ICC partnership will hopefully instill members with a sense of stewardship and land care and management dating back thousands of years. The Indigenous Conservation Corps puts Indigenous members back into working the landscape and gives them a general level of forest management training.
Along with the possibility of reviving the forestry class offered through Cherokee Central High School, this Indigenous Conservation Corps can provide a pipeline to recruit young adults aged 18-30, or 35 if a veteran, who are interested and engaged in natural resources. The conservation corps will allow these individuals to gain experience in forestry positions. Students interested in forestry in high school could be recruited to the ICC so they may explore areas they want to specialize in after high school or help them land a career.
Crew members will engage in a wide range of conservation and restoration projects, such as trail construction and maintenance, forest management and habitat restoration, invasive species treatment, heritage work significant to ancestral lands, fire risk reduction, and disaster relief as needed.
ICC also provides professional and career benefits for tribal crew members who may go on to apply for federal jobs, such as with the U.S. Forest Service. ICC allows crew members to build hours toward a Public Land Corp Certificate which offers a hiring authority comparable to veteran preference when applying for future federal positions.
Crew members will receive on-site training in wilderness first aid and operation of S212 chainsaws and crosscut saws, as well as Red Card certifications that allow them to fight wildfires and participate in controlled burnings. They may also be eligible for student loan repayment extensions and an AmeriCorps education award that can be used for student debt repayment or tuition payment.
For more information on this program, contact Tommy Cabe at email@example.com.