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Veterans Corps: From Protecting our Country to Protecting our Habitat

Sometimes the transition to civilian life—adjusting to life at home, finding new jobs—can be tough for veterans. NOAA Fisheries is helping make that transition easier, by providing post-9/11 veterans with jobs in the habitat conservation field.

The program, in partnership with the California Conservation Corps, has been employing vets since 2012. What began as a local effort in northern California has now expanded toward covering coastal watersheds state-wide in California. NOAA has contributed more than $500,000 to the effort over the last three years, including $100,000 to support up to 12 new veterans next year.

These veterans help us conduct stream surveys and monitor salmon habitat restoration projects identified in NOAA Fisheries recovery plans. Their work helps our scientists evaluate the success of our salmon and steelhead trout projects statewide. It also helps them prepare for jobs in related fields. In 2013, we spoke with two of the veterans employed through the program:

Since the program started, we’ve employed 24 veterans—not including the 12 that will be starting work soon. They’ve worked on 112 restoration projects, surveying more than 2,300 miles of habitat and cleaning up 12 miles of river.

Three of our veterans have advanced from their “blue hat” (entry-level) positions to “green hat” (supervisory) roles. They are now looking to step into leadership roles within the Corps. Several of the veterans who completed the program have gone on to natural resource management jobs. Veterans are also eligible for college tuition after completing the program with an additional Americorps Education Award.

This year, the program was awarded the "Golden Pipe Award," which recognizes innovative approaches to restoration.

Posted July 6, 2016.