|Daniel Griffin: Taking On the World with New Eyes
When Daniel Griffin started working with Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) as an energy conservation corpsmember, he was unsure whether he would make it through the 22-week program. He was a quiet and shy person with a strong work ethic, but was hesitant to take on any kind of leadership. Grieving from the recent loss of his mother, Daniel was withdrawn and had difficulty interacting with people he didn’t know.
Water Conservation: A Mile High Effort
But after two years with MHYC, Daniel had been promoted to assistant crew leader for the water conservation crew and found himself thriving in the corps environment.
State Rep. Crisanta Duran recently honored Daniel as a 2012 Corpsmember of the Year at the state capitol.
“After making it through my first term, I knew that Mile High Youth Corps was not just a job for me,” he says, explaining that in addition to receiving valuable training, he learned the importance of providing service to his community. Daniel was honored earlier this month by CYCA as a 2012 Corpsmember of the Year at a ceremony at the state capitol.
“One of my most memorable experiences was when I was doing an energy audit for an elderly woman. She was so appreciative of our services that she repeatedly thanked us and was so happy that she was crying. It was humbling and impactful to see what a difference a kind gesture can make,” Daniel says. One of Daniel’s responsibilities on the crew involved installing high-efficiency toilets to help decrease water costs for low-income residents. “My favorite thing is when I encounter a client who bursts into tears of joy when we install a brand new water-efficient toilet,” he says.
Daniel has been an exemplary role model among his peers, demonstrating a passion for service and dedication to his own personal and professional growth. While Daniel was dealing with significant personal challenges outside of the corps, he never let that affect his drive to make the most out of his experience. This was evident in Daniel’s continuous efforts to push himself outside of his comfort zone in order to become a more confident and vocal leader.
Photo: Daniel installs a high-efficiency toilet in the home of a low-income resident.
“Occasionally, you meet a person whose personality is an indicator of their ability to change the world. Daniel is one of those people,” said Rebecca Revoal, water conservation crew leader for MHYC. “He came to Mile High Youth Corps without truly knowing what he was getting into. In his four terms, he has impacted the lives of thousands of Denver residents and mentored his peers along the way. He consistently takes the initiative to solicit feedback and asks questions to further develop his interpersonal, professional, technical, and leadership skills, as he is determined to be the best that he can at all times.”
During his term of service, Daniel participated in 40 hours of BPI (Building Performance Institute) weatherization training, represented MHYC at a youth summit in Washington, D.C., and facilitated stress management trainings for his peers – one of whom said, “Daniel taught the team that everyone has the ability to shine.”
Daniel also earned more than $8,000 in AmeriCorps Education Awards. He is planning to use these funds to pursue a degree in radiology. As for the future, Daniel would like to pursue a career in government, with hopes of one day working for the Central Intelligence Agency. He says, “I feel now that I can take on the world with new eyes.”
Thanks to Denver Water, the Mile High Youth Corps is able to engage young people like Daniel Griffin in its water conservation program. In 2012, MHYC crews installed water saving measures in the homes of more than 860 Denver residents, nonprofit organizations and churches, and installed 1,553 toilets – making 2012 MHYC’s biggest production year - saving more than 15,264,000 gallons of water (equivalent to 23 Olympic size pools) every year. Because of the corpsmembers’ service, the average homeowner will save about 20 percent on their monthly water bill.
$50,000 Grant Fights Invasive Plants, Protects Water Resources, Hires Youth
CYCA and the Colorado Water Conservation Board, a division of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, have announced $50,000 in funds for invasive plant species mitigation projects, which will be completed by five youth corps throughout Colorado this year. These projects are designed to control a variety of invasive phreatophyte plants – deep-rooted plants that obtain water from permanent ground supplies or from the water table – including tamarisk, Russian olive and Siberian elm. The plants present a threat to Colorado’s water supply that is needed by the state’s native flora and fauna as well as by water recreation users on lakes and rivers.
In all, 40 youth corps members will serve on these projects, which will reclaim 215 acres of property in protection efforts against invasive plant species. The five projects include:
Frost Livestock Co. Phreatophyte Control Project (Mile High Youth Corps-Colorado Springs and Central Colorado Soil Conservation District)
San Luis Valley Wildlife Refuge Complex Tamarisk Control Project (Southwest Conservation Corps-Los Valles and Friends of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge)
Cameron-Sterk Invasive Removal Project (Southwest Conservation Corps-Four Corners and City of Durango Parks & Recreation Office)
Cache La Poudre River Project (Weld County Youth Conservation Corps and Weld County Public Works)
Hartnagle Project (Mile High Youth Corps and City of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks Dept.)
View our online photo gallery featuring youth corps working on invasive tamarisk and Russian olive tree control projects.
Youth corps members remove invasive plants.
Champions and Corpsmembers Honored at the State Capitol
Earlier this month, CYCA honored its 2012 Champions and Corpsmembers of the Year, where we recognized 10 youth corps members from around the state for their contribution to land, energy and water conservation. We also named Will Shafroth, counselor to the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, our 2012 Champion for Youth, and Colorado State Senator Jeanne Nicholson and State Representative Millie Hamner Legislators of the Year.
Held in the Colorado State Capitol’s Old Supreme Court Chambers, the annual Youth Corps Awards Ceremony was both a tribute and a testament to the hard work of young adults throughout the state, as well as to the leaders who keep the vision of youth corps and natural resources stewardship moving forward every year.
View photos of the awards ceremony on Flickr or in our photo gallery on Facebook. View a video message from Will Shafroth here.
Read complete details about the event in a Denver Post YourHub feature article.
The Colorado Springs Gazette also featured a great story about Christian Ndushabandi, a 2012 Corpsmember of the Year from Mile High Youth Corps-Colorado Springs, and the event’s featured youth speaker.
BLM Report Highlights Career Pathways for Young People
The Bureau of Land Management recently issued a report – “From Childhood Exploration to Conservation Leadership” – providing exciting updates on BLM education, engagement and youth employment programs. The beefy report contains a Career Pathways section detailing internships, recruitment efforts and strategies for creating a 21st century workforce. Be sure to check out page 33 which highlights the work of Southwest Conservation Corps and the Western Colorado Conservation Corps! Here is an excerpt from the introduction:
With youth employment remaining a high-priority goal for the Secretary of the Interior in 2011, the BLM took important steps to create and institutionalize career pathways throughout the bureau and to ensure that those pathways would be clear and made available to youth from all backgrounds. The BLM engaged more than 3,800 youth in mission work in 2011, including youth paid by the BLM, such as youth corps members, who were hired through partners.
View the full BLM report here.
This photo of the Western Colorado Conservation Corps was featured in the BLM's report, "From Childhood Exploration to Conservation Leadership."
Save the Dates!
March 9-17: AmeriCorps Week
April 5: Party for Parks at Red Rocks Visitor Center
April 20: Larimer County Conservation Corps 20th Anniversary
June 3-9: Colorado Land Conservation Appreciation Week
June 8: National Get Outdoors Day