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Sen. Ron Wyden visits Heart of Oregon Corps project in Bend

Senator Wyden chats with COYCC summer program participants
Heart of Oregon Corps
Senator Wyden chats with COYCC summer program participants

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- On Wednesday, during a visit to Central Oregon, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., stopped to visit a Heart of Oregon Corps project site at Bend Park and Recreation District’s Pine Nursery Park. There, local young people from the Heart of Oregon’s summer and year-round conservation programs demonstrated the skills they are developing while they improve local public lands.

The senator has long been a champion of the establishment of a new Civilian Climate Corps (CCC). There is momentum to relaunch a CCC to engage young Americans in conservation work, and it was recently included in the federal Budget Reconciliation process in Washington, DC.

“More than 80 years ago, young folks all over the nation were put to work building our country through a federal program called the Civilian Conservation Corps,” the senator shared. “I am inspired to see Heart of Oregon Corps picking up where the original CCC left off with its own 21st century version of the proven combination for a successful program: jobs for young people and building conservation skills while caring for our beloved landscapes. I will work to ensure that we can expand on this work with passage of a federal Civilian Climate Corps this fall.”

Heart of Oregon Corps Executive Director Laura Handy agrees.

“Conservation work is especially relevant now, with increasing concerns around climate resilience, wildfires, and workforce development,” she says. “A new CCC could mean increased job training and project funding in Central Oregon and throughout the country.”

With its program locations across Central Oregon, Heart of Oregon Corps engages hundreds of young people every year in training and critical conservation, affordable housing, and wildfire prevention projects.

For example, the Central Oregon Youth Conservation Corps program hires up to 100 youth annually in partnership with the Deschutes and Ochoco national forests and Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council This long-standing partnership highlights the connection between a healthy local economy and the preservation of cherished public lands.

The Heart of Oregon AmeriCorps program operates year-round young adult crews in Bend and Prineville, improving local, county, state and federal public lands. Heart of Oregon currently leverages Central Oregon-based support and projects to win competitive federal AmeriCorps and Department of Labor grants, but a new Civilian Climate Corps could substantially expand such activities.

The Heart of Oregon is currently accepting applications from 16-24 year-olds for fall programming at www.heartoforegon.org. Apply by 9/3/21 for the AmeriCorps public lands program, and by 10/5/21 for the YouthBuild pre-apprenticeship program, geared towards non-traditional students seeking to complete their high school diploma or GED and learn skills in the construction trades.

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