The mission of the Veterans Conservation Corps (VCC) is to empower veterans and engage them in conservation service work on public lands. The VCC’s work in State Parks uses veterans’ unique background, diverse job skills and service ethic to address pressing conservation needs on public lands. The focus of the VCC is to develop veterans professionally through training and on the job experience within the Maryland Park Service and the Department of Natural Resources. These are full-time, paid, year-round positions.
Immersion into the Maryland Park Service (MPS)
Through hands-on conservation work and environmental service, the VCC enhances public lands for the enjoyment of all, while contributing to the expansion of each Corps member’s personal and career development.
What the VCC Does
Members serve in Maryland’s State Parks by assisting with park operations and maintenance, as well as working on conservation projects within the parks.
VCC Projects and Work Efforts:
- Trail building and maintenance
- Facilities improvement projects and maintenance
- Educational programs/Interpretation
- Recreation management
- Park operations
- Volunteer coordinator and oversight
- Assistance with special events
- Mentorship of Conservation Jobs Corps members
- Forest enhancement and tree planting
- Stream, bay, and wetland restoration
- Stream surveys
- Habitat restoration and invasive species removal
- Large-scale regional conservation projects in partnership with Maryland Conservation Corps Members
In 2021, VCC members:
- Improved approximately 1,400 acres of land
- Felled 40 hazardous trees
- Bucked and removed 75 fallen trees
- Planted 60 native trees and plants
- Removed 50 contractor-sized bags of invasive species
- Improved 16.75 miles of trail
- Provided outreach and education to 12 people
- Built or maintained the following structures:
- 7 Bridges
- 10 Bulletin Boards
- 1 Roof
- 8 Buildings at 4 parks
Who Can Join
The goal of Maryland's Veterans Conservation Corps program is to empower veterans looking to explore a career in environmental stewardship, conservation service and land management. Applicants should be enthusiastic and have a desire to improve Maryland’s public lands. Other requirements include:
- Prior service in the U.S. Armed Forces. If claiming military service, DD Form 214 may be required prior to accepting employment.
- Education or experience in the field of park operations, recreation, education, business, administration, forestry, social sciences, or a natural resources related field is preferred.
- Ability to lift up to 20 lbs repeatedly and use hand tools (including heavy tools like pulaskis, sledge hammers and chainsaws, etc.).
- Personal vehicle for travel to and from park locations for daily pickup to worksites.
General Job Requirements
VCC Members will:
- Serve for one year, with the possibility of contract renewal
- Attend some mandatory overnight trainings and projects, for up to one week at a time
- Be required to work on certain weekends
- Competitive wages
- Health Insurance
- Valuable professional and networking opportunities
- Professional skills development to prepare participants to enter natural resource conservation or park operations and management careers
Most of the training for the crew occurs throughout the fall, winter, and spring. Trainings include, but are not limited to:
- Emergency Medical Responder
- Wildland Fire Fighter
- Chainsaw Use and Care
- Environmental Education and Interpretation
- Trail construction and maintenance
- Basic Tool Use and Safety
- Basic Carpentry
- Small Craft Safety
About the Work Site
The host site for the VCC crew is Merkle Natural Resources Management Area in Prince George’s County, MD. As the wintering ground for the largest concentration of Canada geese on the Chesapeake Bay's western shore, Merkle is one of Maryland's most unique Natural Resource Management Areas.
Merkle Natural Resources Management Area and Visitors Center
11704 Fenno Road
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
From Annapolis: 32 miles
Follow Route 50 West to Route 301 South. Continue on Route 301 South to Croom Road (Route 382). Turn left on Croom Road. Continue on Croom Road and turn left on St. Thomas Church Road, which will turn into Fenno Road. Continue until you see Sanctuary signs on your left at Merkle Road.
From Washington: 11.7 miles
From Beltway (I-495/95) follow to Exit 11 at Route 4 East (Pennsylvania Avenue) toward Upper Marlboro. Continue on Route 4 to Route 301 South. Continue on Route 301 South to Croom Road (Route 382). Turn left on Croom Road. Continue on Croom Road and turn left on St. Thomas Church Road, which will turn into Fenno Road. Continue until you see sanctuary signs on your left at Merkle Road.
From Baltimore: 38 miles
Exit Beltway (I-695) at Route 97 South. Follow to Route 3 South and then to Route 301 (joins at the junction with Route 50). Continue on Route 301 South to Croom Road (Route 382). Turn left on Croom Road. Continue on Croom Road and turn left on St. Thomas Church Road, which will turn into Fenno Road. Continue until you see Sanctuary signs on your left at Merkle Road.
Hours of Operation: Grounds open sunrise to sunset
Frank Oslislo Visitor Center: Open weekends 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Veterans Conservation Corps FAQs
What are the requirements to join the Veterans Conservation Corps?
Potential members should have a commitment to service and an interest in natural resources and outdoor recreation. Corps members work in State parks and public lands, in the classroom, with local non-profit organizations, in the watershed and tributaries of the Bay, and in Maryland communities.
What is the work schedule?
Generally, the crew works a 40-hour workweek, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a half hour for lunch. Some work projects may involve overnight stays and weekend hours. Some in-State travel may be required.
Does the position include health insurance work?
VCC members are eligible for health insurance benefits through the Maryland Park Service’s project partner, the Student Conservation Association.
What gear and equipment is provided?
The VCC provides uniforms consisting of work shirts, sweatshirts, pants, winter jacket, and a $200 boot reimbursement (guidance on boot requirements will be provided). In addition, all personal protective gear including safety glasses, ear protection, gloves, eye protection, hardhats and chainsaw chaps are provided when needed for specific projects. Crew members supply their own base layers, socks, lunch and water containers. Camping may be necessary for some projects and members supply their own tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pad and lantern/flashlight.
The Veterans Conservation Corps is comprised of U.S. Military Veterans receiving training, certifications, and work experience allowing them to competitively pursue conservation and natural resource management careers.
The Maryland Veterans Conservation Corps is currently based out of Merkle Natural Resource Management Area and works regularly in the Southern Maryland Regional Complex that includes Calvert Cliffs State Park, Cedarville State Forest, Chapel Point State Park, Chapman State Park, Hallowing Point Waterfront Recreation Area, Rosaryville State Park, and Smallwood State Park.
For more information or to apply, contact:
Ranger Luke Terrell
Deputy Director of Conservation Corps