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Utah Conservation Corps Secures Grant to Increase Impact of USU Extension Programs

LOGAN, Utah —The Utah Conservation Corps based at Utah State University has been awarded a $351,058 grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to expand the work of USU Extension in serving rural Utah counties. UCC will partner with USU Extension offices in Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Piute, San Juan, Sevier, and Wayne counties to provide outreach, education, and conservation technical assistance to address natural resource concerns with a focus on rural and tribal communities.

Grant funding will support 11 UCC AmeriCorps member placements at these Extension offices to increase the capacity and reach of these efforts.

Justen Smith, director of USU Extension’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Department, expressed his appreciation for the additional capacity and manpower to serve rural counties.

“This funding will meet critical needs in communities across the state,” Smith said. “USU Extension has 110-year history in Utah, and this funding and expertise from the AmeriCorps program will help Extension programming to evolve to match our growing Utah demographic.”

This new program will expand USU Extension’s workforce and capacity across rural Utah. Highlights include:

  • Box Elder County: Work with USU Extension and the local NRCS and Soil Conservation District Office to complete a wetland habitat restoration study using virtual fencing and grazing of invasive phragmites.
  • Cache County: Oversee and expand capacity of the urban farming initiative and community gardens and serve at UCC’s Urban Community Farm to provide volunteer and educational opportunities to USU students, K-12 students and community members.
  • Davis County:Offer educational and public workshops and classes to promote water quality, water conservation and wetland health among municipalities, commercial green industry members and other large water users.
  • Piute and Wayne Counties:Collaborate with local landowners, NRCS and local conservation districts to help agricultural producers identify federal funding sources and opportunities that will benefit their farms or ranches.
  • San Juan County: Provide support for developing tribal land management and sustainability programs in grazing and farming.
  • Sevier County: Assist Extension, NRCS, and local conservation districts with technical assistance in data collection for an elk grazing impact study to determine wildlife impacts on private parcels critical for cattle grazing, as well as assist with the Beef Quality Assurance Program (an educational platform to help keep the cattle industry sustainable).

UCC and USU Extension are currently recruiting for these UCC positions. In addition to specialized training for conservation work, UCC members are exposed to the academic and research programs at Utah State. Upon successful completion of their terms, UCC members are eligible for an AmeriCorps Segal Education Award.

The Utah Conservation Corps, based out of USU’s Center for Community Engagement, was formed in 2001 with a mission to develop the conservation leaders of tomorrow. Since 2001, more than 2,700 UCC AmeriCorps members have served over 1.9 million hours creating or maintaining 4,660 miles of trail and 505 miles of fence, restoring habitat and reducing fuels on 67,118 acres of public land and reaching 477,980 students with education. The UCC has also responded to 15 natural disasters across the country as an AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team since 2007.

USU Extension provides research-based programs and resources with the goal of improving the lives of individuals, families and communities throughout Utah. USU Extension operates through a cooperative agreement between the United States Department of Agriculture, Utah State University and county governments. For more information about USU Extension please visit https://extension.usu.edu/.

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