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Engaging Veterans and Conservation Corps to Restore Fisheries and Habitats

NOAA and partners provide job training for young people and veterans through hands-on work experience in on-the-ground restoration and science projects.

TNC18005_170403_1302.jpg Members of the GulfCorps create a living shoreline that will be come a home to oysters and other water creatures in Mississippi.

NOAA Fisheries conservation corps efforts are building a community of habitat restoration and science practitioners across the nation made up of veterans, young adults, and others. These programs recruit, train, mentor, and employ workers to implement habitat restoration projects, as well as science and monitoring. Corps members engage in our conservation work boosting fish populations, recovering threatened and endangered species, and supporting resilient coastal communities.

Corps programs contribute to natural resource jobs and workforce development while restoring and studying coastal habitat to support healthy fisheries, fishing communities, and trust resources. These efforts help sustain valuable fisheries habitats and the species that depend on them. Corps members gain employable skills to support long-term coastal economies and restoration right where they live.

NOAA Fisheries is committed to establishing and partnering with conservation and veteran corps in support of our vision to enhance ecosystem, community, and economic resiliency. Our four unique regional efforts—in the Gulf of Mexico, California, Washington, and Oregon—are a reflection of the wide range of habitats and species we work to protect, conserve, and restore.

GulfCorps Brings Ecosystem Recovery to the Gulf Coast

GulfCorps is a conservation corps program helping to restore degraded coastal habitats in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, including those damaged from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The program recruits young adults (18-25) from local communities with the intent to increase diversity in the conservation workforce and address issues of environmental justice in communities affected by the spill. GulfCorps trains and places participants to work on projects that benefit coastal habitat—such as wetlands, streams, and coastal uplands along the Gulf of Mexico—while promoting career growth and future employment opportunities in conservation work. We partner with The Nature Conservancy to oversee the program, mobilizing local coastal citizens to conduct hands-on habitat restoration in each of the five Gulf states.

Learn more about GulfCorps

Training Veterans in Habitat Restoration in California 

Since 2012, NOAA has partnered with California Conservation Corps to provide post-9/11 veterans with the opportunity to transition from serving their country to protecting their country's fisheries resources. The Veterans Corps Fisheries Program in California provides veterans with training and connections in the natural resource field while meeting NOAA’s mission to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. Veterans work side-by-side with restoration experts from state, federal, and non-profit organizations. They also receive scholarships and housing assistance to support their journey.

Learn more about the Veterans Corps Fisheries Program in California

Veterans Gain Fisheries Science Experience in Washington

In Washington, NOAA Fisheries has hosted veteran internships focus on fisheries science since 2016. The NOAA Veterans Conservation Corps fisheries internships train veterans from a variety of backgrounds in marine science. Interns are placed with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center’s Puget Sound research stations, and other science-based partner organizations.  This program includes a unique partnership with the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs. The partnership brings additional  veterans’ benefits to the interns as well as a focus on ecotherapy for them. Veteran interns work alongside NOAA scientists and others in the full range of science activities. Interns often leverage their experiences to gain employment in fisheries management, or enter, or enhance fisheries-related undergraduate or graduate studies.

Learn more about the Washington Veterans Conservation Corps

Oregon Conservation Corps Partnership Gives Veterans New Mission

Through this program, NOAA and partners are strengthening the connection between veterans and the natural world through education, service learning, career development, and research. The 11-month career development experience is for military veterans interested in natural resources management, public lands, and the environment. Since 2019 veteran interns have been working one on one with NOAA Fisheries scientists and also with key partners along the Oregon Coast and in and around Portland.

Learn more about the Veterans Corps program in Oregon

Video: Veterans Work to Restore Salmon Habitat