Our 2014 Eggers Woods crew, part of our summer job program for high school students, the Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps.
Our 2014 Eggers Woods crew, part of our summer job program for high school students, the Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps.

Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps

Applications are now being accepted! Apply online.

The Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps program (CCLC) is a six-week conservation service-learning experience. Selected individuals will participate on crews that will consist of 10-12 high school students and two adult leaders. As a team, the crew will perform ecological restoration and trail maintenance projects in the forest preserves of Cook County. Each Friday, students will participate in field days learning about the local ecology and the environment at various sites throughout the region.

Corps Application

The Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps application period for 2018 will run January 22 – March 19, 2018. Apply online now.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What are the age requirements to participate in the program?
A: Students  must be 15-19 years old by program start and enrolled in high school or be a 2018 high school graduate.

Q: How do I apply?
A: The application period will run January 22 – March 19, 2018. Once you have read the program and job description, please apply online here.

Q: What is the time commitment and how does transportation work?
A: The program will run from July 2 to August 10, 2018. Students generally work Monday-Friday 34 hours/week and receive a wage of $8.25/hr. If a student misses more than 3 days of work they will be automatically dismissed from the program and will forfeit the remaining pay. There are no exceptions for family vacations or summer school. July 4th will be observed for Independence Day and no programming will occur on that day. Participants do not need to live near a forest preserve to participate. Students meet at centralized pick-up and drop-off locations (such as a CTA train stop) and are transported to their work site each day. Students leave their pick-up locations at 7:30am Monday-Thursday and will be dropped off at the same locations by Crew Leaders at 3:30pm. Fridays are designated as environmental education days. Crew members will be paid for four hours on Fridays and will meet at their designated locations at 7:30am.

Q: What exactly do students do and where do they work?
A: Students will spend one week learning job skills that will prepare them for the program and give them skills that they can use in the future. They engage in rewarding and valuable physical work outdoors on conservation and restoration projects in the forest preserves of Cook County including trail work, invasive species removal and nature center projects. Throughout each week time will be devoted to learning about the local ecology and environment. Once the student is hired, you will usually be placed at the forest preserve work site that is closest to your home.

Q: How can I improve my chances of getting into the program?
A: We highly encourage you to volunteer at least twice at a forest preserve this spring to learn more about what you will be doing this summer and to see if you like the work. Applicants that come out for two volunteer events removing invasive plants or helping out at a Nature Center have a better chance of securing a position for the summer (see below for information on volunteering). We also encourage you to spend time thinking about and answering the essay section of your application. We receive many applications and are looking for students that are excited about working in the forest preserves and helping our environment.

Q: Where can I volunteer in the forest preserves of Cook County?
A. The CCLC program encourages applicants to attend two volunteer events at a nearby forest preserve. However, volunteering is not a requirement to apply. We encourage volunteering because this will give you a better understanding of what you will be doing during the summer. Volunteer events happen almost every Saturday or Sunday. Events are led by certified leaders who instruct you on how to remove invasive species among other activities. To find a volunteer event near you go to http://fpdcc.com/volunteer or http://www.fotfp.org/event/centennial.

To receive credit for volunteering, you must print and have a signed copy of the volunteer credit form for each volunteer workday. Forms must be included with your application, no exceptions.  

Q. Who do I contact with additional questions?
Please email Zach Taylor, Conservation Director, Friends of the Forest Preserves at zach@fotfp.org or call 312-356-9990. Or Daiva Gylys, Chicago Program Manager, Student Conservation Association at dgylys@thesca.org or call 312-239-1661 ext. 6004.

You can download a copy of the FAQ’s here.

Are you out of high school, but would still like to be part of the CCLC program? If you are no longer a student, please consider applying for the following positions:

Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps Crew Leaders. (Please read the Crew Leader position description before applying: Crew Leader description.)

Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps Apprentice Crew Leaders. (Please read the Apprentice Crew Leader position description before applying: ACL description.)

2015 Trailside Crew

Want to learn more about the Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps?

Check out our blog series:

Crew Member Spotlight- Alec Alving: interview by Apprentice Crew Leader and Forest Preserve Leadership Corps member Gloria Orozco

Crew Member Spotlight- Anna Westmoreland: interview by Apprentice Crew Leader Jenny Kulb

Crew Member Spotlight- Kyana Harrod: interview by Apprentice Crew Leader and Calumet Invasive Species Conservation Corps crew member Dyrell Williams

Crew Member Spotlight-Haider Baig: interview by Apprentice Crew Leader Jaime Davila

Crew Member Spotlight- Jose Dondiego: interview by Apprentice Crew Leader and Forest Preserve Leadership Corps member Jesse Hernandez

Crew Member Spotlight-Kacper Mierzejewski: interview by Apprentice Crew Leader and Forest Preserve Leadership Corps member Eduardo Paz