CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the 28 organizations that will help train the next generation of conservation and climate leaders.

The USDA’s Working Lands Climate Corps (WLCC) is a component of President Biden’s American Climate Corps initiative that offers technical training and career opportunities for young people. The program aims to equip them with the skills to implement climate-smart agricultural solutions for farmers and ranchers.

Some examples of activities include:

Workshops to develop and provide climate-smart agriculture outreach and education to agricultural producersAssisting in field surveying, site inspections and easement monitoringSupporting conservation practice design and conservation planning activities with assisted field surveying

Tammy Willis, State Conservationist for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Illinois said, “We have a need for skilled conservationists in Illinois to adapt to these changing conditions. The Working Lands Climate Corp will help us do that by providing our youth with the resources they need to become technically proficient, so that they can bring about change and build a resilient landscape for the future of Illinois.”

The selected host organizations are:

American Forest FoundationAssociation of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation DistrictsChippewa Luce Mackinac Conservation DistrictColorado Department of AgricultureConservation LegacyCornell University- Climate Smart Farming ProgramDucks Unlimited, Inc.East Carolina UniversityFamily Nurturing CenterFresno Metro MinistryGlynwood Center, Inc.Michigan Department of AgricultureMinnesota Farmers Union FoundationMonarch Joint VentureNature for JusticePennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, d/b/a Pasa Sustainable AgriculturePheasants ForeverRogue Farm CorpsSandhills Area Research AssociationThe Curators of the University of MissouriThe Nature ConservancyUnited Way of Southwest ColoradoUniversity of Maine System acting through Univ. of MaineUpper Salinas-Las Tablas Resource Conservation DistrictUtah State University Utah Conservation CorpsWhite River Natural Resources Conservation DistrictWild Farm AllianceWorking Landscapes

Communities across the country will see the first American Climate Corps class in June 2024. Host organizations will work with Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) staff to monitor the group’s climate work progress. The Illinois NRCS is also working with the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts (AISWCD). 

“AISWCD is proud to link arms with NRCS, NACD and The Corps Network to bring the national Working Lands Climate Corps (WLCC) to Illinois to strengthen communities and transform lives,” said AISWCD Executive Director Michael Woods. “The WLCC visionary leadership will usher in a new era of community and conservation impact across Illinois and inspire communities across the state served by SWCD to deepen and expand their commitments to conservation and climate resiliency initiatives.”

The WLCC Training Program, led by the NACD, will cover various topics, including different types of agriculture, planning outreach events, and communicating about climate change. Participants will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to work effectively with diverse stakeholders to advance conservation objectives.

“As we look at the pressing conservation needs across Illinois, it’s on all of us to remain steadfast in our commitment to create meaningful service opportunities that bring people together, train the next generation of workers, and address Illinois’ most pressing natural resource preservation needs,” said Woods. “The inaugural program will extend an opportunity to eight conservationists to serve as AISWCD Corps members.”

The American Climate Corps is funded through the Inflation Reduction Act, and citizens can apply online using the recruitment portal at



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