Conservation Legacy Annual Report 2020

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Dear Friends and Supporters, Thank you is simply not enough. 2020 challenged us to come together like never before and we did. You joined us on every mountain and crossed with us into unfamiliar landscapes. Together we met adversity with dedication, determination and empathy. Last year will be defined not only for its struggle but also for the extraordinary innovation and impact that resulted. As a team, we rose up in the face of a pandemic to mitigate risk, pivoted to new programming, and continue to safely offer conservation and service opportunities for youth, young adults and veterans. Our programs never paused, living up to our legacy of 365 days of programming each year. We saw flexibility, dedication and adaptability to emerging needs, including a new COVID Containment Corps launched in a short 60-day window last June. During a year with incredibly high unemployment rates, Conservation Legacy supported over 2,100 crew members, leaders, interns, and individual placements in workforce programming across the country. Collectively, our members clocked over a million service hours and were provided over $13 million in paid service opportunities. We set ambitious goals by adopting new strategic plan that will guide us into the future. We answered the call of resource-strapped parks as many experienced the most visitors in their history during the pandemic. We have wholeheartedly embraced diversity, inclusion, and equity work, knowing that we have just begun a long and complex journey to get to where we need to be. With your help and encouragement, Conservation Legacy will continue to engage the next generation of leaders in building a world of healthy lands, air, and water, thriving people and resilient communities. For those not connected yet, we invite you to join and support us in this movement. Our future will be built on the fact that we are better when we work together—when we challenge ourselves and each other to BE better. In Service,

Rob Spath, CEO 02

Elwood York, Board Chair

BOARD OF DIRECTORS We are grateful to our Board members for their passion, discipline, and leadership- guiding us successfully through a difficult year while staying focused on our long term vision. Elwood York, Chair Miami, Florida Butch Blazer, Vice Chair Santa Fe, New Mexico

Photo courtesy of the Chattanooga Times Free Press

Ashley Hansen, Treasurer Washington, DC


Benjamin Tuggle, Secretary Albuquerque, New Mexico

Our members, staff and partners stepped up in unprecedented ways this year, with creativity, grit and dedication. We applaud their recognition.

Robert Burkhardt Estes Park, Colorado CJ Goulding Teaneck, New Jersey Johnathan Hall Scottsdale, Arizona Wayne Hubbard Kansas City, Kansas David Muraki Lincoln, California Lisa Norby Morrison, Colorado Karen Rudolph Manitoba, Canada Loretta Pineda Denver, Colorado Stephanie Wu Newton, Massachusetts

CHIEF’S AWARD FROM THE US FOREST SERVICE Appalachian Conservation Corps and the Bailey's Trail System Project APPLEMAN JUDD LEWIS AWARD Stewards Individual Placement Program project partner, Kiel Rommel REGIONAL FORESTER AWARD: DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIVENESS Southeast Conservation Corps COLORADO YOUTH CORPS CORPSMEMBERS OF THE YEAR Joseph Tuttle and Jordi Romero, Southwest Conservation Corps THE CORPS NETWORK PROJECT OF THE YEAR COVID Contact Tracing Projects Colorado and Navajo cohorts, Conservation Legacy THE CORPS NETWORK CORPSMEMBER OF THE YEAR Trevor Taylor, Southwest Conservation Corps 03

2020 AT A GLANCE Conservation Legacy bonds people to places and harnesses their power to restore, improve and preserve our communities and ecosystems. By providing authentic service leadership opportunities for young people in the field of conservation and simultaneously addressing critical natural resource needs, our programs address the nation's environmental needs of today and tomorrow.






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DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION In 2019, Conservation Legacy identified Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) as the top priority strategic goal for the organization. When successful, we will have Conservation Legacy staff and members at all levels who reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. We’ve created internal structures and systems that support staff and members, such as affinity crews; employee resource groups; restorative justice processes; incorporating trauma-informed care and compassionate communication trainings in our professional development work; and actively improving our grievance and harassment protocol and on-boarding processes. Even with the challenges of COVID-19 and the heightened awareness of systemic injustices that 2020 brought, Conservation Legacy still made great strides toward making our workplace environment more inclusive and equitable. Conservation Legacy recognizes past inequities in the history of our public lands. We are addressing these inequities, so the conservation world of the future leaves a legacy of inclusion where diversity of all kinds is visible, embraced and celebrated. We are not experts in this work. We have made mistakes, and we will continue to make them. But we are committed to investing resources that focus on equity in ways that make our organization’s systems work for everyone.



In 2020, we operated a variety of affinity crews throughout our corps programs across the country. Our affinity crews create an inclusive space for untapped groups to gain hands-on experience, technical skills training, and professional development. These crews foster a safer, more comfortable learning environment where participants are able to maximize their opportunities to grow and develop.

Ancestral Lands Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps (ALCC) was created in the Pueblo of Acoma in 2008 based on the need to provide local opportunities for youth, as a program of Southwest Conservation Corps. Through over 10 years of community and Indigenous-driven growth, ALCC is now a standalone local corps program of Conservation Legacy, operating autonomously in Tribal communities of the Southwest and beyond. This year, Ancestral Lands programming expanded to the East, placing two interns at Werowocomoco, a National Park service site that is still in development. Thanks to these Indigenous interns, Werowocomoco will always have Indigenous representation, and Native voices and perspectives will continue to be a driving force in the future of the park. “My family has been directly involved in Werowocomoco since its uncovering,” explained Connor Tupponce, “We are a very small tribe and community. All of us are involved in one way or another.”

Leaders of Color Program Trevor Taylor, former Southwest Conservation Corps Crew leader, was awarded a Conservation Legacy Innovation Fund award to develop a Leaders of Color program. The Leaders of Color program is designed to offer an affinity space for young Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) crew members to learn advanced technical skills as a means to enter higher earning industry jobs. “My goal is to create further opportunities for people like myself to have the experiences I was fortunate enough to have,” said Trevor. “I get to open up those experiences to others. It goes back to the idea of service. I want to keep being of service to people of color and other underrepresented communities.”

Women’s Crews This year, we increased our women/trans/non-binary affinity crews across our local corps programs. Five different crews were in operation in separate locations, including the inaugural Ancestral Lands Native Womxn’s Crew. “When I was starting out in conservation work, I saw how few women there were,” explains Shandiin Nez, a Diné Asdzáán (Navajo woman) and the Ancestral Lands Associate Director. “One of the main reasons I felt comfortable to apply for the position I’m in now was because I saw there was one other woman on staff. I thought, ‘if she can do it, I can do it. We’ll be in it together.’” The crew toured the Southwest throughout the summer and fall, completing projects at various National Park Service Sites. 07

Board diversity brings unique leadership Since its inception 23 years ago, Conservation Legacy has sought to impact and serve local communities and ecosystems. Recently, we have made significant strides towards becoming more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, due in part to the vision and guidance of our Board of Directors, who represent an array of diversity rarely found at that level of leadership, regardless of industry. Leading With Intent, an index of nonprofit board practices, found that only 16 percent of nonprofit board members identify as BIPOC. In contrast, 67 percent of the members of Conservation Legacy’s 15-person board identify as BIPOC. But diversity runs deeper than demographics—it celebrates and encourages variety in thought, personal experiences, socioeconomic backgrounds and ideologies. Variety in cognitive and demographic representation allows a board to establish “more effective solutions, higher levels of engagement, stronger culture, and deeper, more authentic relationships with partners,” according to the Governance Gap report. We are focused on increasing representation across all levels. Additionally, the organization is committed to adapting its programs, systems, and internal culture to be more inclusive. Creating an equitable, safe, and welcoming space for all staff and members is imperative and mission critical.


EARTH DAY, EVERY DAY From ecological monitoring to fire fuels mitigation to watershed and wetland restoration, our many programs align with the call to address climate change.

With a great need comes the potential for great impact—our public lands and waters desperately need our care and protection. Conservation Legacy connects a diverse array of people to public lands through meaningful conservation service opportunities in their local communities. We are ready and excited to lead the next generation of conservation workers in a concerted effort to combat the environmental challenges we face today.

Heating the Hopi Nation The Closure of the Navajo Generating Station, and subsequent loss of the primary heating source for the Hopi community, impacted villages heavily in the winter of 2019-2020. Preparation of Hopi for the winter was essential as there was not a fully operational firewood program. Ancestral Lands, a program of Conservation Legacy, in partnership with the Hopi Foundation, Village of Kykotsmovi, the National Forest Foundation and Red Feather Development Group, assisted in developing a fuelwood program, with plans to expand to other villages. In the past year, crews have removed over 100 cords of wood from Lockett Meadow in the neighboring Coconino National Forest, and have delivered over 30 cords to Diné families. Seventy more cords have been delivered to Hopi families. We are planning to process and deliver an additional 150+cords of fuel wood to Hopi families in Fall 2021 in preparation for the upcoming winter.


Caves and Climate In 2020, the Scientists-in-the-Parks Program (SIP) successfully completed its 24th year and placed 159 interns in 64 parks in every region of the National Park Service, six Washington offices, four inventory and monitoring networks, and one regional office. These talented college students and recent graduates supported the NPS mission by completing important natural resource science projects, gaining on-the-ground work experience, and obtaining an understanding of the importance of conservation and resource stewardship on public lands. Joshua Gonzales and Evan Laughlin are both SIP interns at Coronado National Memorial in Southern Arizona. Their daily tasks span a wide variety of different projects, all related to the research and protection of the natural resources and ecosystem of the park. One of the most compelling projects, the interns emphasize, is their time spent monitoring the micro-climate in the caves and mines throughout Coronado.



Using ‘data loggers’ placed strategically throughout the caves, the interns gather data with park staff to track and record temperature and humidity changes. This data gives a clearer picture of broader climatic changes in the region because temperatures taken deep within caves vary only slightly over a long period of time, whereas outside temperatures fluctuate drastically and unreliably. “Caves are very delicate ecosystems,” says Evan, “so any change in temperature or humidity could affect their ecology. Studying those changes is a very useful climate indicator.” The main cave in Coronado is accessed by scrambling down a slope of boulders into an underground system of tunnels. It’s not for everyone—footing is uneven and there are no steps or paved paths. “We‘re working on creating a full color, high resolution 3D model of the main cave in Coronado using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology,” explains Joshua. “It will be published online, so anyone can explore the cave—even those who we might not otherwise be able to.” Helping to improve access to this important subterranean ecosystem is a contribution that the interns say will extend beyond their service terms into the future of the National Park system. “However small, the impact I’ve had during my time here will live beyond me,” Joshua says. 11

Gone Fishin’ Arizona Conservation Corps’ Biological Science Interns assist the Arizona Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office in supporting recovery actions for the threatened Apache Trout on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. The local interns are a part of a seasonal field crew conducting surveys of headwater streams for the purpose of monitoring the status and trend of Apache Trout populations. “The interns and I worked on three streams; our duties were to eradicate non-native fish from the streams by using an electro-fishing backpack gear,” explains Crew Leader Majerle Lupe. “The electro-fishing backpack uses direct electricity flowing between a submerged anode and cathode. This allows the fish to become stunned which does not kill the fish but only temporarily shocks them so they can be easily caught.” The position also includes


managing and removing non-native invasive trout species that prey on, compete with, and hybridize with Apache Trout. The Fort Apache Indian Reservation is located in the White Mountains of Arizona and hosts the large majority of remaining Apache Trout habitat and populations. This incredibly successful program has been in operation for several years now with many members on a seasonal career track through the program, serving consecutive terms annually. “I am an Apache from Whiteriver. I was homeless, traveling the states, sleeping anywhere I could and hanging with the wrong people,” reflects crew member Carlos Bonito. “But my life changed after doing conservation work. I feel happy that I know that what I’m doing is helping my tribe and future generations.” 12

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE For over a year, the world has been living through challenges most have never seen before. Not only are we witnessing this on a global scale, but we are experiencing it on the ground with our communities and partners every day. The past year was hard, but allowed us to innovate and rise to meet these challenges. Our staff went remote; we adjusted programming to maintain the safety of our participants, partners and staff. We soon adopted new policies and protocols to bring our programming safely up to full speed. We were able to continue to provide quality project work and empowering experiences for our participants.

All hands on deck By June, Conservation Legacy and its Stewards Individual Placement Program mobilized more than 130 contact tracers in Colorado as part of the vital effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The contact tracing cohort has collectively made over three thousand calls since the program’s inception.


In the fall, Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps supported a twenty four week COVID contact tracing project to serve the Navajo Nation. Ten Individual Placements each began conducting contact tracing in response to the pandemic. Contact tracers were from Navajo Nation and all over the country. The project wrapped up in May of 2021. With the support of our partners, we accomplished more this year past than we could have imagined last spring. It has been truly humbling, and we are full of gratitude for the network of wonderful project partners, community partners and funders. As the world adapts to life during and after the virus, Conservation Legacy participants and staff alike will continue to stand ready to respond to the needs of their communities and to selflessly offer their service for the benefit of all.



Our work begins with YOU. Your support helps us take action on the ground across

the United States from the Navajo Nation to the mountains of Chattanooga to the glaciers of Alaska. When you give to Conservation Legacy, you have a national influence and lasting local impact. Today, our programs are growing faster than ever. With your help, we are introducing new people from all backgrounds to our diverse landscapes around the country through meaningful conservation work.

BECOME A CONSERVATION CHAMPION Join Conservation Legacy supporters from around the country who have pledged to help us protect our public lands. When you give to Conservation Legacy, you have a national influence and lasting local impact.

$50 provides quality tools for a crew member at work. $100 provides needed gear for a crew member without access. $250 provides the necessary supplies to run a community volunteer event. $500 provides professional development opportunities to an intern. $1000 provides support for two crews to clean up public lands for a day.

Please visit to get involved today!

Photo courtesy of Alan Craddick

FINANCIALS Total Revenue: $26,349,886




Total Expenses: $26,924,442




Total Expenses By Program:

Stewards Individual Placements: $8,753,275 Southwest Conservation Corps: $7,233,402 Arizona/Conservation Corps New Mexico: $5,562,216 Appalachian Conservation Corps/North Carolina: $1,618,490 Southeast Conservation Corps: $957,834 Preserve America Youth Summits: $27,378 Other shared expenses: $2,771,844

*For a full financial statement, please visit


Conservation Legacy is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Federal Tax ID (EIN): 84-1450808

701 Camino del Rio, Suite 101 Durango, Colorado 81301 (970) 403-1149


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