Texas Conservation Corps Helps Out Mississippi

This past fall, TxCC had the unique opportunity to help out our coastal neighbors. Through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy and The Corps Network, TxCC sent members to the Biloxi, MS area to not only serve through conservation projects, but by helping to build a corps program. Local youth participants were recruited for the 7 week program while TxCC Crew Leaders and Staff did what they do best – lead, teach, keep members safe, and when the days get long, inject a little fun. Everyone, from the corps members to the participating organizations, learned a lot and we are grateful to have had to chance to share our knowledge. Below are reflections from participants of the inaugural Gulf Coast Restoration Corps.

Honestly I must admit this has been one hell of an experience for myself. All my life I’ve lived on the Gulf coast and never have I got a chance to give back/help my fellow community. We went from cleaning all the homeless shacks in the woods, to getting waist deep into rivers and lakes to remove the debris. Along the way our fellow crew leaders Chris and Taylor have taught us many different types of skills, from hands on full action to “total pro mode” as they like to call it. They also taught us how to use and read the water quality meter. Overall the crew was good… And might I add, our crew leaders are totally awesome.

Conservation lifestyle by: Kilo Turner

 

I participated in the Gulf Coast Restoration/Climb CDC Conservation Pilot program led by Taylor Wolter and Chris Gomon. My experience was pretty much new to me. I had never been kayaking or even known about the different vegetation in my area. I learned about which plants were and were not native, how erosion and altering streams were affecting us, and, most importantly, that you shouldn’t wiggle around in a small boat. I liked the adventurous nature of the job but didn’t really like being at the will of nature’s elements. When it comes down to it though, I can dig it and look forward to getting our own Conservation Corps.

-KeJuan “Juice the Glove” Williams

 

I had a very fun experience, and had lots of fun with Chris and Taylor for these weeks. I have learned a lot from them, things I never knew such as, how to evaluate a stream, test the water and kayak. I like everything about this program. There is not a dislike about it, and if I could do it again, I would. And by the way, conservation rocks!!!

-Martin King

 

Hey my name is Lezzeunna May-Cousan and I just completed my first conservation work ever. I’ve had the best crew leaders to teach and help me grow into the person I am today. The best thing about conservation work for me was being out on the water. Everyday on the water was a good time. Conservation work may seem hard and boring at first but when you’re helping many streams, bayous and lakes, its not so hard. I hope everybody that does conservation work has as much fun as I did.

-Lezzeunna May-Cousan

 

Well the ending of a  pilot program is coming. This has been a fantastic run, learning new things and even new experiences. First, we learned to test the water with the water quality meter. Next, came the kayaks… at first sight this was a “no go” for me, but with the confidence of my instructors they slowly persuaded me to do it. We learned what invasive species were and all sorts of other things. Hopefully this will continue.

-Brandon McClarien

 

group2resize stream1resize

Texas Conservation Corps at the Bastrop Wildfire Academy

The Firefighter Training & Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior (S130/190) course conducted by the Capital Area Interagency Wildfire & Incident Management Academy was an extremely rewarding experience. Myself along with 9 other members of the Texas Conservation Corps were provided the opportunity to learn about the expanding world of wildland firefighting. Our instructors- Larry Weaver, Willie Mcinnes and Mark Elliot—are experienced professionals who used hands-on experiences to teach us.  During the first few days, we learned about the most important factors of predicting fire behavior and how conditions on a fire can change from minute to minute and hour to hour. Even though there were a lot of technical aspects of fire behavior analysis our instructors taught us practical skills, such as using a sling psychrometer to measure relative humidity, and how Relative Humidity affects the fire’s fuel and burn behavior.  Each day built on the previous day’s knowledge and we were challenged to think critically about how fire behavior adapts, not only with weather conditions, but also due to the terrain. Depending on where a fire starts, we learned about how natural geographic features, such as box canyons, saddle backs and other terrain elements can accelerate the fire’s spread and intensity. Our instructor’s taught us fire vocabulary but also to use natural barriers within an environment (such as roads, waterways, and rocky areas) as anchor points to fight fire. I can hear our instructors now: “work smarter not harder!”

When we transitioned to the fire fighting portion of our course (S190) we simulated a fire camp and were able to participate in the construction of a fire line and a prescribed burn. You know the saying, “you don’t fight fire with fire?” Well, in wildland fire fighting this just isn’t true. In the classroom we learned that fire creates its own weather conditions, but in the field we were able to see how setting a fire within the constructed fireline can use the convective properties of fire—drawing it to itself—and how this actually extinguishes the fire. The fireline construction, fuel reduction and “mop up” were the most exciting aspects of the course. In our Nomex suites and full protective gear we constructed a fire line using the one-lick method. Each person, wielding a different tool, scratched out a small portion of the fire line until the line is down to mineral soil. Working with my fellow classmates, I could sense the camaraderie that develops on a fire crew. As we walked, each one of us pointed to widow makers and stump holes, preventing the crew from slowing down and ensuring each member’s safety. Once the fireline was complete, the instructors allowed me to light a fusee to begin the fire. Once the fire was going we could observe fire behavior and use the tactics learned in the classroom to extinguish the fire by drawing it to itself and eliminating unburnt fuel. The S130/S190 course was an exciting and extremely engaging experience with which to end my year.

LaJuan D. Tucker, SLA Crew Leader