USDA announces 28 host organizations to train future conservation and climate leaders, as part of President Biden’s American Climate Corps 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has selected 28 organizations to host members of USDA’s Working Lands Climate Corps, an effort that will train the next generation of conservation and climate leaders, providing technical training and career pathway opportunities for young people and helping them deliver climate-smart agriculture solutions for farmers and ranchers.

Selections were made in partnership with The Corps Network. WLCC is part of President Biden’s historic American Climate Corps initiative and harnesses funding from the Inflation Reduction Act. Last month, President Biden announced that Americans can now apply to join the American Climate Corps through a newly launched website, ClimateCorps.gov.

“America’s rural communities are on the frontlines of climate change, and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to growing and supporting a conservation workforce that can develop and implement the innovative climate solutions that this challenge demands,” said Deputy Secretary Torres Small. “As part of President Biden’s historic American Climate Corps, the Working Lands Climate Corps is providing a pathway for young people to enter into careers they are passionate about, like tackling climate change, advancing conservation, and helping their communities.”

Eligible organizations were invited to apply in February. Awarded host organizations will work collaboratively with state and county-level NRCS staff to facilitate and track the climate work of WLCC members. Prospective applicants can now apply for available positions at ClimateCorps.gov.

The selected host organizations are:

  • American Forest Foundation
  • Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts
  • Chippewa Luce Mackinac Conservation District
  • Colorado Department of Agriculture Conservation Legacy
  • Cornell University- Climate Smart Farming Program
  • Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
  • East Carolina University
  • Family Nurturing Center
  • Fresno Metro Ministry
  • Glynwood Center, Inc.
  • Michigan Department of Agriculture
  • Minnesota Farmers Union Foundation
  • Monarch Joint Venture
  • Nature for Justice
  • Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable
  • Agriculture, d/b/a Pasa Sustainable Agriculture
  • Pheasants Forever
  • Rogue Farm Corps
  • Sandhills Area Research Association
  • The Curators of the University of Missouri
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • United Way of Southwest Colorado
  • University of Maine System acting through University of Maine
  • Upper Salinas-Las Tablas Resource Conservation District
  • Utah State University Utah Conservation Corps
  • White River Natural Resources Conservation District
  • Wild Farm Alliance
  • Working Landscapes

Working with partners and host organizations, this effort will provide technical training and career pathway opportunities for young people, helping them deliver economic benefits through climate-smart agriculture solutions for farmers and ranchers across the country, now and in the future.

Through the first cohort of members, more than 100 young people will serve with 28 state and local host organizations in 25 states receiving on-the ground experience and training with partners and organizations who conduct programming to support the adoption of climate-smart agriculture practices and systems.

Some examples of activities include:

  • Developing and providing climate-smart agriculture outreach and education to agricultural producers, such as workshops and training sessions;
  • Assisting in field surveying, site inspections and easement monitoring; and
  • Working with conservation professionals to support conservation practice design and conservation planning activities.

Applications are now open for WLCC positions at the selected host sites. Interested applicants can apply at The CorpsNetwork and position descriptions will be available at ClimateCorps.gov.

NRCS is working in partnership with The Corps Network, AmeriCorps, and the National Association of Conservation Districts in this effort.

“Congratulations to the organizations selected to host the initial cohort of Working Lands Climate Corps members,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO, The Corps Network. “I am excited to see the first WLCC members get to work over the coming months on a range of activities that will prepare them for impactful, rewarding careers while they help build more resilient and sustainable farms and forests. As the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, we are proud of the work Corps have been doing in this space for decades and thrilled to help implement this new initiative of the American Climate Corps.”

“As the federal agency for national service and volunteering and the hub for President Biden’s American Climate Corps, AmeriCorps commends USDA, The Corps Network, NACD, and the selected host organizations for quickly mobilizing to stand up new Working Lands Climate Corps projects across the country to help farmers and ranchers address threats related to drought and climate change by supporting climate-smart agriculture, soil and water conservation, and conservation planning,” said Michael D. Smith, CEO, AmeriCorps. “The Working Lands Climate Corps — like the AmeriCorps NCCC Forest Corps partnership we launched with the USDA Forest Service last fall — are examples of the kinds of creative partnerships we are building as part of the American Climate Corps that will mark a new era of or youth-powered climate action in America. I encourage anyone interested to visit the ClimateCorps.gov to apply for available opportunities.”

“Providing young people with skills and training to start their careers in conservation is our responsibility to ensure the legacy of our work. WLCC provides a wonderful opportunity to do just that,” said NACD President Kim LaFleur. “NACD and conservation districts hosting WLCC members are proud to be partners in building a workforce to advance climate-smart agriculture and conservation today for a more resilient tomorrow. NACD will be providing WLCC members with specialized training to help them better understand conservation and serve producers and communities effectively. We look forward to working with our amazing partners to make sure that this program is a success for hosts and members alike.”

Working Lands Climate Corps Training Program
The WLCC Training Program, led by NACD, will provide training for WLCC members, including a comprehensive overview of conservation concepts, practices, and systems, with a strong emphasis on locally led and landscape-scale efforts through virtual learning.

The training will cover a range of specific topics, from understanding diverse types of agriculture to planning effective outreach events and communicating about complex issues like climate change. The training resources will provide participants with the knowledge and skills to work effectively with diverse stakeholders to advance conservation objectives.

Overall, the program is designed to provide a foundation for those entering the field of conservation, offering a broad overview of the key players, processes, and challenges involved.

This WLCC Training Program is in addition to the trainings and resources that will be available to all American Climate Corps members. 

American Climate Corps and joining the WLCC
The WLCC is part of the American Climate Corps, a workforce training and service initiative that is working to ensure more young people have access to the skills-based training needed for good paying careers in the clean energy and climate resilience economy.

This announcement builds on the Biden Administrations announcement from last week, inviting Americans to apply to join the American Climate Corps through a newly launched website, ClimateCorps.gov. The website will feature nearly 2,000 positions located across 36 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico and will be regularly updated with new positions. The first class of the American Climate Corps will be deployed to communities across the country in June 2024.

Those interested in joining the WLCC can visit the American Climate Corps recruitment portal on the website to see available opportunities.

Supporting historic climate smart agriculture investments
President Biden launched the American Climate Corps to train young people in high-demand skills for jobs in the clean energy economy. The American Climate Corps will put a new generation of Americans to work conserving our lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, advancing environmental justice, deploying clean energy, implementing energy efficient technologies, and tackling climate change. American Climate Corps members will gain the skills necessary to access good-paying jobs that are aligned with high-quality employment opportunities after they complete their paid training or service program.

USDA is one of the seven agencies that signed a memorandum of understanding to shape the American Climate Corps, which will serve as a blueprint for the multiagency program. The memorandum of understanding lays out the mission, goals, priorities, and next steps for implementing the American Climate Corps.

The American Climate Corps will focus on equity and environmental justice – prioritizing communities traditionally left behind, including through outreach and climate-smart agriculture assistance, leveraging the talents of all members of our society and prioritizing projects that help meet the Administration’s Justice40 goal.

The American Climate Corps also delivers on the President’s America the Beautiful Initiative by training the next generation of land and waters stewards.

About the USDA
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, promoting competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across USDA by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of the Nation. To learn more, visit usda.gov.