The Southeast Conservation Corps (SECC), which was formorly known as Southeast Youth Corps, provides young men and women with structured, safe and challenging service and educational opportunities through projects that promote personal development and stewardship. To achieve these objectives, SECC offers three distinct program models; Trips for Kids, Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), and AmeriCorps Conservation Crews. The SECC is a part of the Conservation Legacy (formerly Southwest Conservation Corps) that was founded in 1998 to continue the legacy of the Civilian Corps of the 1930s. Conservation Legacy also supports other regional offices that serve local communities including: Southwest Conservation Corps, Arizona Conservation Corps, Southeast Conservation Corps and Environmental Steward.
SECC’s Trips for Kids program provides a unique recreational and conservation service experience to youth (ages 12 – 15) who may not otherwise have access to Chattanooga’s natural resources. Through the joy of riding a mountain bike, youth cultivate a connection to the natural environment and are provided with a fun yet demanding physical activity that encourages personal growth and environmental stewardship. Trips for Kids programs are led by SECC staff and trained mentors from within the local mountain bike community. SECC’s Trips for Kids bike rides and service projects take place on local trails and open spaces.
SECC conservation crew programs, YCC and AmeriCorps crews, typically operate from June through early November. SECC’s Trips for Kids programs primarily operate during the spring semester and summer months. All programs, including day programs and residential camping crews are based out of SECC’s Chattanooga office. All SECC programs are implemented through a diverse range of partnerships including public land agencies, non-profits, land trusts and municipalities.
SECC’s service projects for the YCC and AmeriCorps programs take place throughout the state of Tennessee and neighboring states within the Southeast region. For a majority of these projects, Corpsmembers will work, live and camp communally in teams consisting of six crewmembers and two leaders. Projects include, but are not limited to, trail design, maintenance and construction, watershed restoration, habitat enhancement, fencing, tree planting, invasive plant removal, and much, much more. Along with earning a living allowance, all Corpsmembers learn invaluable professional and personal skills. Furthermore, Corpsmembers that complete an SECC service program re-enter their communities as individuals with elevated employment skills and stronger presence of leadership, resiliency, and dedication to natural resources.
“It would be wrong to guess that there would not be challenges ahead, but it is how face them that is the real test. We can meet the challenges and fall apart, or we can overcome them, but we really can’t walk away.”
2013 YCC Corps Member