2016 Finalist

This project has been selected as a finalist in the Natural Resources category:

faces of tomorrow

Project Summary

Conservation Corps Minnesota joined forces with Superior National Forest to launch Faces of Tomorrow, an initiative to prepare diverse young adults for natural resource careers where women and people of color are underrepresented. This partnership was launched to address what some are calling the "Green Ceiling." Our environmental science and natural resources management workforce is not fully reflective of the broader population it serves.

For the 2015 season, six participants identified as African American and three as Hispanic. Five of the 12 members were female, including the three Caucasian members of the crew.

Conservation Corps young adult participants received intensive training and hands-on experience in all facets of Forest Service management skills to be competitive for federal natural resource jobs. Program outcomes focused on placement of participants into Forest Service jobs using the Public Land Corps Hiring Authority. In the first year of the program, four of the 12 participants gained employment by the Forest Service.

Using resources we had not been familiar with in the past, including Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, Faces of Tomorrow has impacted more diverse young adult participants than ever before.

Project Website


Project Partners

  • Conservation Corps Minnesota
  • U.S. Forest Service – Superior National Forest

How did the project partners work together?

Conservation Corps Minnesota and Superior National Forest used a targeted approach to prepare young adults for conservation-related jobs, focused on addressing the serious underrepresentation of people of color and females in these fields.

The Corps broadened recruitment efforts by recruiting, reviewing and selecting members based on their racial/ethnic backgrounds and gender to ensure we could meet the program’s objectives to diversify the eligible applicant pool for U.S. Forest Service jobs. Also, we removed barriers to participation by providing members with housing, food and transportation during their intensive, full-time, residential training program.

Superior National Forest worked directly with crews to coordinate experiential service-learning projects such as fighting wildland fires, studying botany and managing timber, recreation, facilities and fisheries. Faces of Tomorrow members also received certifications in necessary technical skills such as boat and ATV operation, Red Cross CPR and first aid and wildfire suppression. Corps staff instructed members in how to write resumes and apply and interview for jobs. A Forest Service recruitment specialist trained them on how to navigate USA Jobs, the Federal government’s official jobs site.

How is the project groundbreaking?

Nearly 95 percent of Superior National Forest staff members are Caucasian and more than 58 percent are male. Although strides have been made to increase diversity in environmental organizations, there is still a glaring lack of racial diversity in these positions and the most powerful roles continue to be dominated by men. Faces of Tomorrow used innovative approaches to reduce barriers to participation and increase overall diversity in the natural resources field.

Only one in five members hired had their own transportation, and housing options in the remote rural areas where they served were extremely limited. The typical non-residential program model was not a good fit for this project. Providing transportation and housing to members throughout their term of service was crucial to the success of the program.

The Conservation Corps recruitment coordinator looked nationwide to reach diverse candidates with a demonstrated interest in natural resource careers. The most effective recruitment tool was Corps staff connecting with Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), which has chapters at colleges throughout the country.

Aside from recruitment and program model adjustments, a dedicated Forest Service project manager ensured each crew had the opportunity to work with multiple divisions within the Forest Service.

What are the project goals?

The goal of Faces of Tomorrow is to increase racial and gender diversity, to ensure that the future natural resources workforce will more appropriately match and relate to the increasingly diverse communities who use our resources.

A recent study by University of Michigan professor Dorceta E. Taylor entitled, “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations and Government Agencies” found that, “People of color are 36% of the U.S. population, and comprise 29% of the science and engineering workforce, but they do not exceed 16% of the staff in any of the organizations surveyed.” To increase overall diversity in the natural resources field, we are identifying and training a diverse pool of candidates.

The Faces of Tomorrow program is continuing the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps by helping solve one of today's greatest problems, helping underrepresented communities gain skills and experience necessary to be competitive in a field that has been dominated by a single race and gender.

What are the project outcomes?

This seasonal initiative has already launched several graduates into U.S. Forest Service positions, including two working as wildland firefighters with Superior National Forest and two as forestry technicians in Chippewa and Green Mountain national forests. “Truly, without the hiring authority and skills gained through my time on the SNF, I don’t think any federal employer would have considered me,” said Faces of Tomorrow alumna Erin Cole. Additional members are in the process of obtaining jobs.

Throughout the summer term, crew members helped restore the forest by removing seven acres of invasive vegetation and 100 hazard trees, conducting four wildlife surveys, improving 15 acres of timber stands, inventorying 10 forest plots and maintaining over three miles of trails.

Superior National Forest received the 2015 Eastern Region Honor Award as well as the Forest Service Chief’s Award in the category of Cultural Transformation. Conservation Corps received the Corps Network’s Project of the Year Award for their collaborative work with Faces of Tomorrow.

We have tried many approaches over the years to increase diversity within our programs and Faces of Tomorrow has far exceeded expectations of both the Corps and the Forest Service. We intend to continue this work, engaging diverse young people in natural resource employment and helping them establish a first-generation sense of connectedness to the outdoors.

Event Details

Thursday, May 25, 2017
5:00 - 5:45 p.m. Registration & reception
5:45 - 8:00 p.m. Dinner & program
8:00 - 9:00 p.m. Dessert & reception 

Nicollet Island Pavilion
40 Power Street
Minneapolis, MN 55401

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Presenting Sponsors

Environmental Lay Group

Great River Energy

Reception sponsor

25th Anniversary Sponsors


Community Action

Critical Collaborator

Stoel Rives LLP

Emerging Leader


Energy and Climate

The Weidt Group

Natural Resources

Sustainable Business

Supporting Sponsors

Minnesota Power

partner SPONSORs

In-kind sponsors


CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Consulate General of Canada

Rochester Public Utilities

Associate Sponsors

Bremer Bank
G & K Services
Nova Consulting
Smith Partners