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Engaging Veterans and Conservation Corps to Restore Fisheries and Habitats

NOAA and partners provide job training for young people and veterans through hands-on work experience in on-the-ground restoration projects.


NOAA Fisheries conservation corps efforts are building a community of habitat restoration practitioners across the nation made up of veterans, young adults, and others. These programs recruit, train, mentor, and employ workers to implement habitat restoration projects in support of long-term coastal restoration.

Corps programs contribute to natural resource jobs and workforce development while restoring coastal habitat to support healthy fisheries, fishing communities, and trust resources. These efforts help sustain valuable fisheries habitat and provide participants with employable skills to support long-term coastal economies and restoration right where they live.

NOAA Fisheries is committed to establishing and partnering with conservation and veteran corps in support of our vision to enhance ecosystem, community, and economic resiliency. Our four unique regional efforts—in the Gulf of Mexico, California, Washington, and Oregon—are a reflection of the wide range of habitats and species we work to protect, conserve, and restore.

GulfCorps Brings Ecosystem Recovery to the Gulf Coast

GulfCorps is a youth-based conservation corps program helping to restore degraded coastal habitats in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, including those damaged from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The program trains and places participants to work on projects that benefit coastal habitat—such as wetlands, streams, and coastal uplands along the Gulf of Mexico—while promoting career growth and future employment opportunities in conservation work. We partner with The Nature Conservancy to oversee the program, which includes recruiting, training, and mobilizing local coastal citizens to conduct hands-on habitat restoration in each of the five Gulf states.

Learn more about GulfCorps

Training Veterans in Habitat Restoration in California 

Since 2012, NOAA has partnered with California Conservation Corps to provide post-9/11 veterans with the opportunity to transition from serving their country to protecting their country's fisheries resources. The Veterans Corps Fisheries Program in California provides veterans with training and connections in the natural resource field while meeting NOAA’s mission to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. Veterans work side-by-side with restoration experts from state, federal, and non-profit organizations. They also receive scholarships and housing assistance to support their journey.

Learn more about the Veterans Corps Fisheries Program in California

Connecting Veterans Fisheries Internships in Washington

In Washington, NOAA Fisheries employs and trains veterans in habitat restoration internships through the Veterans Conservation Corps, a joint program with the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs. Veteran interns work alongside NOAA Fisheries scientists to create an individualized applied science experience focused on evaluating the success of NOAA’s restoration projects. They contribute to NOAA’s research, while we contribute to their career knowledge and skills. As members of science teams, interns are exposed to the full gamut of the scientific process—from field work and analysis, to report writing and communication. Interns typically leverage their experience to gain admission to, or enhance their work in, fisheries-related undergraduate or graduate studies.

Learn more about the Washington Veterans Conservation Corps

Oregon Conservation Corps Partnership Gives Veterans New Mission

Through this program, NOAA and partners are strengthening the connection between veterans and the natural world through education, service learning, career development, and research. The 11-month career development experience is for military veterans interested in natural resources management, public lands, and the environment.

Learn more about the Veterans Corps program in Oregon

Video: Veterans Work to Restore Salmon Habitat