Rosemount woman serves with the Conservation CorpsRoche spent the last six month helping manage natural resources in the Twin Cities.
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
Since her time at the School of Environmental Studies, Rochelle Roche knew she wanted to work with the environment. After being laid off last spring, the 26-year-old decided to follow her heart. She did that through the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa.
Roche recently finished a six month stint with the Conservation Corps. As part of the corps she helped manage natural resources around the Twin Cities. Duties included buckthorn removal, erosion control and creating rain gardens.
The Conservation Corps traces back to the Civilian Conservation Corps that was started in the 1930s. The program provided natural resource jobs to unemployed young men. According to the organization’s website, the Conservation Corp, which is linked to Americorps, provides work for young people in conserving energy, managing natural resources and responding to disasters.
Participants receive a monthly stipend and an educational award that can go towards student loans or future school costs.
While much of it was hard work, Roche said she learned a lot and gained valuable experience. The first project her crew worked on was a large buckthorn removal at Theodore Wirth Park. The project involved using chainsaws and chemicals to eradicate the invasive species. She worked with a crew of five people.
“I had never used a chainsaw before. It was pretty cool,” said Roche.
Additional projects included planting willows along creek beds in Scott County to stop erosion. Her crew also worked with Metro Blooms to plant rain gardens. She started with the Conservation Corps on June 30 and finished her stint Dec. 15.
Along with doing the physical work Roche worked with the public to educate them about their efforts. She said some people were wary of their work, especially the buckthorn removal.
Her interactions with the public convinced Roche she’d like to go back to school to get her master’s degree in environmental education.
For now, though, Roche is looking for a job. Roche, who has a bachelor’s degree in conservation biology and a minor in forestry from the University of Minnesota, hopes her Conservation Corps experience will help her find a job in the industry.
“Overall it was an experience I can definitely use in the future,” said Roche.
Either way, Roche said she was glad to have been part of it. During 2011, 143 young adults served with the Conservation Corps. Over that time members including Roche conducted prescribed burns to restore 535 acres of prairie, planted 111,126 trees, suppressed 235 acres of wildfire, removed over 10,000 acres of invasive species, and constructed or improved 1,124 miles of trail in central Minnesota.
To learn more about the Conservation Corps visit conservationcorps.org.