The Student Conservation Association Northwest Programs
SCA was launched right here in the Northwest more when the first SCA volunteers reported for service at Olympic National Park and Grand Teton National Park more than 50 years ago. Since then, more than 70,000 SCA members have provided over 30 million hours of conservation service nationwide – protecting wildlife, restoring habitats, curating historic sites and more in national parks, forests, and urban green spaces.
In this region, SCA provides conservation service opportunities for hundreds of young adults at Mount Rainier National Park, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge and many other federal, state and municipal public lands, and engages hundreds more Northwestern youth in service both here at home and across the country.
SCA's Seattle community conservation programs connect young people from all backgrounds with their local environment, providing valuable work experience, career skills and job readiness training.
Students also gain leadership capabilities, strengthen their self-confidence and esteem, and embrace an enduring ethic of stewardship. Strategically built as a graduated continuum, SCA's Seattle community conservation programs are geared toward specific age groups at progressing levels of participation, challenge and growth:
- 15 to 17 year-olds are eligible for entry-level conservation, recreation and leadership training
- 18 to 20 year-olds may serve as assistant crew leaders and/or diversify their experience through more in-depth explorations of specific career tracks in conservation such as internships with SCA's agency or nonprofit partners or as part-time summer park staff
- 21 to 24 year-olds can complete a field leadership training program and become eligible to lead SCA crews
SCA’s full and part-time programs run from a few weeks to several years throughout the year.
SCA's National Conservation Crews allow high school age students to serve on a month-long summer volunteer crew, maintaining and restoring hiking trails and restoring habitats on public lands. Crews of six-eight students selected from around the country and two experienced leaders live and work in the backcountry doing hands-on work such as felling trees, prying rocks from the ground, building lean-tos, and removing invasive plants. While learning outdoor skills, members also work with others to solve tough problems and help the crew out by cooking, cleaning, sharing responsibilities.
SCA's Conservation Internships and Corps are geared toward college-age and older volunteers who want to gain valuable on-the-job experience by working alongside experienced natural resource management
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Base to Basecamp Program; Military Family Youth Initiative
The Base to Basecamp Initiative was piloted in the summer of 2012. In 2013 fourteen teens from Joint Base Lewis-McChord served on SCA summer crews in Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Forest and Lewis and Clark National Historic Park in Oregon. Created in collaboration with the National Park Service and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, this program provides teenage children of military families the opportunity to practice outdoor and conservation service as well as take time away from the stress of their daily lives.
Elwha River Restoration
SCA is partnering with Olympic National Park to carry out hands-on recovery efforts related to the Elwha Dam removal. In addition to fielding interns on-site, SCA will assist in mobilizing 1,000+ volunteers to help restore native plant and fish populations in the Elwha River basin, which encompasses 321 square miles of ecologically and culturally significant lands.
Mount Rainier Recovery
In 2008, SCA was recognized for its innovative Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative by the Department of the Interior and by the Environmental Education Association of Washington (EEAW) with a Community Catalyst Award for Washington State. Through SCA's partnership with other organizations, over 2,000 volunteers were recruited and trained to help rebuild trails, reopen campgrounds, revegetate damaged areas, prevent further erosion, protect vulnerable habitats, provide education and interpretation for the public, survey wildlife, and more.