with Chris


A Friendly Call-to-Arms – Promoting National Service in the Treasure State

February 9, 2024

The remarkable successes of the Civilian Conservation Corps, put in place in post-war America from 1933 to 1942, are ever-present: participants planted 3 billion trees across America. They built roads, bridges and buildings. They constructed 800 parks, with park trails and shelters, and in the process they learned essential skills, became physically fit, and had the satisfaction of making essential contributions to the local and national community.

The CCC was a central program of Roosevelt’s New Deal, and at the time immediately after World War II, the nation needed the CCC to get people back to work, to reinvigorate a whole generation of youth, and to rebuild the nation’s flagging infrastructure.

Flash forward to 2014: just this week, US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell took the significant step of issuing a Secretarial Order to formalize the creation of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) – a take-off on the CCC of old – to connect America’s youth to the great out of doors. It’s a vision that’s taken a year to realize, built on the foundation of AmeriCorps, a current US initiative that currently supports programs like Peace Corps and Vista.

“If Americans are going to continue to have healthy lifestyles, healthy lands and a healthy economy, one of the steps we must take is to bridge the growing divide between young people and nature,” Jewell said in announcing the 21CSC initiative. “Under this order, we are establishing specific goals that the department, as manager of America’s national parks, refuges and other public lands, will meet by working hand in hand with businesses, conservation organizations, Tribes, youth groups and other partners.”

Under this order, Jewell will coordinate all US agencies to adopt the underlying principals of 21CSC – youth employment and training, national service, and improvements to our public lands. Jewell – who most recently was CEO of REI, the 129-store outdoor retailer – also seeks private sector participation to provide employment opportunities for young people and veterans.

While in the scope of national and world affairs, this announcement will go largely unnoticed, Jewell has put in motion a very exciting initiative that has real possibilities here in Montana. The state already enjoys the incredible services of a leader in this field, the Montana Conservation Corps [disclosure: I sit on the board!] MCC provides youth training and leadership to hundreds of young people annually, and is planning strategically to bring its service to a far-larger population of teens and adults in the years ahead [read more at].

We all stand to benefit from the grand vision of national service. And it has a great place in the future of the Treasure State.

I call for a similar state initiative to bring the values of 21CSC into our state agencies, into our youth populations, and into our communities.

Giving back to community, offering self-improvement and initiative to our youth, stewarding our valued parks and public lands – Jewell proposes to embellish and grow a program timeless values whose time has come once again.

For more information, see:

US Department of the Interior – Secretary Jewell, Press Release

US Department of the Interior – Engaging the next Generation, video


Chris Pope

Montana Senate Candidate, Democrat

Chris Pope, Treasurer
P.O.BOX 6546
Bozeman, MT 59771
P: 406-581-8739