White House Honors Anthony Ciocco, Southwest Conservation Corps Crew Leader, as a “Champion of Change” in engaging Next-Generation Leaders



WASHINGTON, DC –March 18, 2014 – The White House today honored fourteen local heroes who are actively engaging communities and youth in environmental stewardship. The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.  Anthony Ciocco, Ancestral Lands Crew Leader for Conservation Legacy’s Southwest Conservation Corps, was recognized today for his extraordinary efforts to engage and lead Native American youth.

About Anthony: Anthony, or “Chako” as his crew refers to him, leads ecological restoration crews on the Navajo Nation. Under Anthony’s leadership his crews of local Native youth work to rebuild damaged ecosystems and build trails to provide outdoor access to local communities. In his work, Anthony accomplished extremely challenging and important conservation projects, while at the same time giving crew members a deep and hard-earned sense of accomplishment, enabling them to move forward in their professional and personal lives. The example he sets for others makes him a Champion of Change.

Anthony strongly believes that reclaiming well-being in Native communities is a highly integrative process including our landscapes, cultures, languages, and our mental and physical health. Anthony, a member of the Mvskoke tribe of the Creek Nation, co-founded a non-profit devoted to restoration of traditional language and culture. He has also worked extensively in restoring traditional food systems and received the Live Real Food Fellowship. The University of Colorado Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) awarded Anthony a grant to fund his work with the Indigenous Training and Resource Council.

“When I took up conservation corps work I did not realize how much it would impact the lives of my crew members, nor the impact our work would have on the environment,” said Anthony. “I have found that it is perhaps the most radical form of supporting and empowering our young people to fulfill their own destinies. So it’s with great appreciation that I thank the White House for honoring me and this concept. At its core, conservation work is about helping things grow and I hope my example continues to do that.”  To read Anthony’s official White House blog visit: www.whitehouse.gov/champions/blog .

“The White House Champions of Change award is a fitting recognition of Anthony’s environmental stewardship and leadership. He works tirelessly to improve outdoor access on the Navajo Nation,” Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet said. “In true Colorado fashion, Anthony, and the Southwest Conservation Corps, are dedicated to furthering opportunities for all of us to get outside and appreciate the outdoors, while also teaching countless young people the importance of being good stewards of our natural resources.”

Anthony’s work with the Ancestral Lands program at the Southwest Conservation Corps is an example of the amazing work being done throughout Conservation Legacy’s various programs nationally.

Conservation Legacy: Conservation Legacy is not a new organization; it is the rebranding and restructuring of the Southwest Conservation Corps, and including other programs such as the Arizona Conservation Corps, Western Hardrock Watershed Team, Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team, Environmental Stewards, and Southeast Youth Corps. Conservation Legacy’s mission is to empower individuals to positively impact their lives, their communities, and the environment.  Conservation Legacy accomplishes this mission in two ways:

  1. Conservation Legacy programs employ, engages and train a diverse group of young women and men.  In 2013 Conservation Legacy programs engaged 709 young people, veterans and crew leaders in residential and day service programs providing them with paid work, job training, education, life skills and the opportunity to make a difference.
  2. Conservation Legacy programs complete conservation projects for the public benefit.  In 2013 Conservation Legacy programs completed over 350,000 hours of service maintaining recreational trails and open space, protecting communities from wildfire, preserving wildlife habitat, and more.

Conservation Legacy has been a national leader in the growing movement to engage more young Americans in conservation service through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC)

The 21CSC: As a part of the administration’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, President Obama established the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) to create quality jobs, career pathways and service opportunities for youth and veterans. The 21CSC is built on the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC); the Great Depression-era federal program that employed over 6 million young men on public lands. With the support of public agencies, private companies and nonprofit organizations, the 21CSC puts young Americans and Veterans to work on service and conservation projects. Like the CCC, the 21CSC improves our parks and community spaces while providing young people with job training and life skills development. Unlike the CCC, this modern corps program is operated through a public-private partnership, rather than being solely federally operated. This public-private partnership is led by the Partnership for the 21CSC, and the National Council for the 21CSC. To learn more please visit www.21csc.org . 


Contact: Eugenie Bostrom, Dir. of Strategic Partnerships and Communications