Holden Foley, field manager of Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast. will head to Washington, DC next month to be recognized by The Corps Network, the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, as a 2018 Corpsmember of the Year.

The Corps Network presents the award each year to six young adults chosen from among the 25,000-plus individuals who serve in member organizations of network.

The six Corpsmembers of the Year will be honored at a ceremony Feb. 14 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC as part of The Corps Network’s 2018 National Conference, “The Trail Ahead.”

Criteria for being selected for the award are to have demonstrated personal growth, outstanding leadership skills, and a sincere commitment to national service. All winners of the award are nominated by their Corps and selected by a panel of staff from The Corps Network and its member Corps.

Foley has successfully led over 50 conservation and construction projects since he began as a crew member on the Apalachicola Nature Trail Pilot Project, the initial Conservation Corps project in 2015.

Within the first weeks of his service, Folden established himself as committed, hard worker and a leader for his fellow crewmates. His leadership was instrumental in the completion of seven park and facility renovation projects for the city of Apalachicola, two seasons of monitoring the oyster harvesting check stations for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 24 weeks of successful conservation projects for the Gulf Corps Restoration Pilot Project, installation of over 500 feet of living shoreline with the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, two seasons of sawgrass planting with the Nature Conservancy at the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve, as well as the improvement of over 160 acres of public lands through prescribed burn, invasive species removal and forest restoration projects.

“Many people and partners have supported the Conservation Corps, but its success and growth is easily attributed to Holden Foley, to his leadership, work ethic, passion for excellence, and determination to not accept failure as a result, but as a lesson for improvement,” said Joe Taylor, executive director of Franklin’s Promise Coalition. “He has inspired his fellow crew members to complete challenging tasks, and motivated the staff, board of directors, and the community to believe in and invest in young people.

“He is responsible for embracing the Corps opportunity and ensuring it is available for others like him. We are very proud of him,” said Taylor.

The Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast is one of more than 130 member organizations of The Corps Network, a collection of local, state or national programs that provide young adults and recent veterans the opportunity to serve their community, advance their education and obtain in-demand skills. Serving in crews or individual positions, Corpsmembers spend up to a year performing projects that address conservation and infrastructure concerns, wildfires and natural disasters, outdoor recreation access, and a range of other issues. Corpsmembers gain work experience through building trails, conducting prescribed burns, managing habitats, helping disaster-stricken communities, and performing various other service-oriented tasks.

“All our member Corps and Corpsmembers make significant contributions to communities across the country,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, president and CEO of The Corps Network. “With the Corpsmember of the Year award, we have the opportunity to celebrate extraordinary individuals and programs from our network and shed light on the vast capabilities of Corps; our awardees are symbols of the impact of national service. The Corps Network is humbled to represent such inspiring people as Holden Foley and programs like the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast.”

The Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast is a comprehensive youth development program for young adults 16-25 years of age which provides participants with job training, academic programming, leadership skills, and additional support through a strategy of service that conserves, protects and improves the environment, as well as community resilience. This initiative continues to accomplish an array of specific habitat restoration projects throughout the region such as invasive species removal, living shoreline installation, oyster reef restoration, water quality monitoring, and pine savanna restoration.

Crew members belonging to the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast work everyday to reshape their future, to lay a foundation for a prosperous, self-sufficient life, and to accomplish critical projects to protect and restore our natural resources. Since 2014, 49 young adults have been trained, earning over 160 industry certifications, completing over 60 conservation/construction projects, and responding to 3 natural disasters.

“As a community, we are investing in them to complete their diplomas, to master transferable job and life skills, and to gain hands-on work experience that will lead to careers which transform the economic vitality of our region.” said Tamara Allen, chair of Franklin’s Promise Coalition which operates the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast.

The Corps Network provides leadership and support to over 130 of America’s Service and Conservation Corps. Through advocacy and providing Corps access to funding opportunities and expert guidance, The Corps Network annually enables over 25,000 Corpsmembers to strengthen communities, improve the environment and transform their lives through service.

To learn more about The Corps Network, please visit www.corpsnetwork.org.