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Governor Martin O’Malley Delivers Commencement Address At Maryland Civic Justice Corps Graduation
118 Baltimore City Youth Recognized for Completing Conservation Program
EDGEMERE, MD — Today, Governor Martin O’Malley recognized 118 Baltimore City youth graduating from Maryland’s Civic Justice Corps (CJC) at North Point State Park in Baltimore County. In the inaugural session of the CJC, which offers a summer job and environmental education to at-risk youth, Corps members completed numerous restoration and improvement projects at Gunpowder Falls, Patapsco Valley and North Point State Parks. Funding for the CJC program was made possible, in part, due to a $4 million increase for Maryland State Parks this year.
In his keynote address to the graduates, Governor O’Malley praised the Corps members’ hard work and challenged them to utilize the lessons learned this summer to help improve their communities and to create a more promising personal future.
“It is never too late to connect with nature, to develop new skills, to learn to work as a team and to understand that each of us can make a valuable contribution,” said Governor O’Malley. “I hope as you move forward to meet and conquer the challenges facing your communities, that you will find new strength gained from this summer’s experience, the successes you’ve enjoyed, the lessons you’ve learned and the friends you’ve made.”
In April, as part of Maryland’s Children in Nature Initiative, Governor O’Malley expanded the Maryland Conservation Corps – the state’s award winning AmeriCorps program – to include the Civic Justice Corps, a summer job and environmental education opportunity for at-risk youth. MCC crew members and Maryland Park Service staff supervised projects and provided mentoring for the 8-member crews.
“I had the privilege of working along-side one of our crews out at Gunpowder Falls, and I saw first hand their commitment to improving our parks, to learning new skills and to becoming better natural resource stewards,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary John R. Griffin. “Each one of them should be very proud of their accomplishments. We are certainly proud of and thankful for their service.”
"This program represents the core of DJS' new Maryland Model which focuses on providing real services for youth and builds on true collaborations with partner agencies, professions and the community,” stated Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Donald W. DeVore. “This is a wonderful opportunity for these young people to experience the outdoors and learn skills they can utilize in life."
At Gunpowder Falls State Park, CJC crews improved Muskrat Trail, a nature trail that winds through the woods to the edge of the marsh, helped build boardwalks, learned how to cut trees, worked on an entrance sign, planted trees to green the Hammerman loop road, improved canoe launch access, built pole sheds, and improved Jerusalem Village trails.
At Patapsco Valley State Park, crews helped remodel the old camp store into Hilton nature center, installing a rain garden, laying flooring material and designing an exterior mural. In addition, crews painted pavilions and restrooms, completed a native landscaping project at the Park Visitors’ Center, provided trail maintenance and construction, and removed scores of old tires from the river.
At North Point State Park, Crews narrowed the access road to the trolley barn, planting grass on the shoulders to reduce run-off into the Chesapeake Bay, conducted a clean-up at the North Point Battlefield, and built the stage for today’s graduation ceremony.
“This was an incredible experience,” said an eighteen-year-old CJC participant. “Before joining the Civic Justice Corps, I didn’t even know natural areas existed like this near Baltimore. I can’t wait to bring my grandmother out to see what I’ve done.”
Graduates also learned valuable lessons about the environment through participation in outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing, camping and art work.
“Every one of you is leaving a lasting legacy, helping to preserve, protect, and reinvigorate the natural beauty our State is known for,” the Governor told the graduates. “You efforts will enrich the recreational and educational experiences of visitors to these great parks for years to come.”
The Governor’s remarks came just days after visiting with students at Mercy Hospital who are members of a program known as YouthWorks, which places well-trained, multi-skilled high school and college students into a six week summer employment with partnering businesses, governments, and organizations. State participation in programs such as YouthWorks has soared under the O’Malley-Brown administration, constituting an investment of $3.5 million in youth summer job programs for fiscal year 2009 alone. In addition to youth employment efforts, Maryland in-state college tuition has remained frozen for three consecutive years, aid to community colleges has increased by nine percent compared to four years ago, and a record $5.3 billion has been invested in K-12 education, demonstrating that the future of Maryland’s youth remains a top priority.
Building on the federal Civilian Conservation Corps, established 75 years ago, and the modern AmeriCorps, the Maryland Conservation Corps and Civic Justice Corps engage young adults in extensive natural resource management and park conservation projects. Managed by the Maryland Park Service since 1984, the MCC and CJC provide members with opportunities for skill development and personal growth through a supportive, team-based environment, emphasizing the satisfaction of completing projects that benefit Maryland's natural resources. To learn more about the Maryland Civic Justice Corps visit www.dnr.maryland.gov/cjc/.
August 8, 2008
Contact: Olivia Campbell
410-260-8016 office I 410-507-7525 cell
Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 449,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov