WHITE MOUNTAINS — Arizona Conservation Corps’ White Mountains Program graduated 21 corps members Aug. 18 from three spring and summer crews.

As the young adults displayed photos of their project sites to family members and community partners, they spoke of the challenges of long, hot days filled with heavy lifting and technical rock and fence work. They also recalled the camaraderie developed on four- and eight-day “spikes,” camping, cooking and hanging out with their crewmates. Several were close to tears as they told of gaining confidence and making lifelong friends.

These crew members and leaders have spent the last five months working around the region and state on a wide variety of conservation projects: thinning with White Mountain Apache Tribal Forestry and the Pinetop Fire Department, building fences in Apache-Sitgreaves and Prescott national forests, rebuilding trails at Fort Apache and in Tonto National Forest, and completing various maintenance projects at Tumacacori National Monument, the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Park.

As AmeriCorps volunteers, they received a living stipend of $300 a week throughout the term and an AmeriCorps Education Award Scholarship that they can now use to pursue higher education. Many of the graduates are heading back to school this week, but some will stick around the White Mountains for a fall/winter term that begins Oct. 2.

AZCC is looking for additional corps members for the October crew, and interested 18- to 25-year-olds can apply at azcorps.org/join or call Kyle Trujillo at 505-593-1001.

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