Utah Conservation Corps receives donation
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 13:02
Last February, the Utah Conservation Corps wrote a proposal to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as application for a funding opportunity. The opportunity, “America’s Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists,” received more than 500 applicants. The UCC was one of 20 applicants awarded the NFWF grant in conjunction with Wells Fargo & Co., an American multinational diversified financial services company.
On Monday, Jared Gleue, a community development representative for Wells Fargo, presented a check for $25,000 to the UCC in the Center Colony Room of the Taggart Student Center. In addition to an award of $70,000 from the NFWF, the UCC received an award totaling $95,000.
“Wells Fargo partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation last year for some local grants and we felt very fortunate to be able to participate in the program,” Gleue said. “Wells Fargo’s plan is to donate $15 million in the next five years to different groups around the country, with the plan of $100 million donated by 2020.”
The UCC, as a department of USU Student Services, works to develop conservation leaders for the future through service and educational opportunities.
“This award that we’re being presented with here today generously from Wells Fargo is in relation to our Bilingual Youth Corps program for the Utah Conservation Corps,” said Sean Damitz, Student Sustainability Office director. “The program has been evolving since 2008. The Bilingual Youth Corps program has been this extension of what we’ve been doing with our conservation and field crews since 2001.”
Damitz said the UCC wanted to extend to a younger audience, especially underrepresented communities in Cache Valley, an opportunity to experience and work through what a crew normally does.
“About this time last year a bunch of staff from the Utah Conservation Corps started thinking of ways that we could expand those opportunities, because we did have a lot of great successes with crew members throughout Cache Valley,” Damitz said. “Our vision is to make the Utah Conservation Corps more representative of the population here in Cache Valley. We have a more diverse mix of folks going out and doing these wonderful conservation projects that really help our land managers and non-profits throughout the state of Utah.”
Damitz said after the NFWF accepted and approved the UCC’s proposal in May, the Bilingual Youth Corps program began expanding both here in Cache Valley and in Salt Lake County.
“We had a number of new crews that we were trying to manage,” Damitz said. “This funding that we received from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and from Wells Fargo is helping to fund crews, both from last summer and crews for this coming summer.”
Kate Stephens, program coordinator and assistant director for the UCC, said the Bilingual Youth Corps program offers many benefits for those involved.
“They’re in the public school system and they’ve had to learn English, but for a lot of them their home language is still Spanish,” Stephens said. “Prior to making it bilingual, we weren’t really bridging that gap and getting over that language barrier. By being able to speak to parents and get them all the information in Spanish, we’re able to build a solid relationship with parents. That’s critical when you’re working with 16 to 18-year-olds.”
Damitz said all environmental education materials provided to the crews are available in English and Spanish. This benefit, when coupled with the younger ages of the crew members, sets the team apart from normal groups and combats the language barrier that often prevents Latino families from becoming involved.
Well Fargo has been recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council and Carbon Disclosure Project and since 2006 has supported renewable energy projects worldwide, providing more than $11.7 billion in environmental finance.
“It’s a great program,” Gleue said. “We like to help the environment and like to be green wherever we can. It’s a great cause to be able to help bilingual youth and also conserve nature and preserve our environment.”