I cannot convey enough the benefits that WCC has not only provided for the state, but also the benefits it provides for those fortunate enough to serve as members. I was a crew leader in 2011 and though I had been in the state for almost 3 years, it wasn’t until my summer of service and those 60 nights under the stars, that I fell in love with Wyoming. Spending almost three months traveling about this diverse state, working outside on the plentiful public lands, it not only made me love this state, it made me want to stay. And here I am, 4 years later, still in love with Wyoming and still reaping the benefits of my AmeriCorps service. I got to graduate college with substantially less debt that my average fellow classmate because of my AmeriCorps education award. I got a job at a competitive and prestigious environmental consulting firm, because in my interviews they said they liked that I had been an AmeriCorps member and served with the Wyoming Conservation Corps. In addition to benefitting my education, my career, and confirming a home I would love, it still benefits me, every weekend that I get to hike or bike the trails built by the members and volunteers of WCC.
This state is currently facing a problem with retaining the professionals of my generation. 60% of all 18 year old workers in Wyoming will leave the state within the next ten years. This problem has grown to the extent it has become a common discussion in legislation and it has our Governor sending out handwritten letters. This working demographic is crucial to the success of an economy, and it is depleting in Wyoming. But I have seen the retention capabilities of the Wyoming Conservation Corps for keeping young professionals in Wyoming. I am one of many WCC alumni who have found love, residency, and employment in Wyoming that otherwise wouldn’t have, if not for my experience through WCC. So, as a young professional of Wyoming, let me state that if you want to retain young professionals, don’t defund the programs that create them.
ANDREA HARRINGTON --Wyoming Conservation Corps’ AmeriCorps Alum