GulfCorps Brings Ecosystem Recovery to the Gulf Coast
Mobilizing community youth to create resilient coasts and communities in the five Gulf States.
GulfCorps invests in the people along the Gulf of Mexico coast through a conservation corps program producing sustainable and lasting benefits to the environment, economy, and communities. The program provides short-term (less than one year) employment for local young adults, including veterans and those from underserved communities, as well as skills training and experience in jobs supporting local workforce development in the growing habitat restoration field. GulfCorps projects support sustainable fisheries and contribute to the recovery of protected resources by restoring habitat for fish and other resources.
From 2016-2021, NOAA received $9.2 million from the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) to administer the GulfCorps program alongside federal and state partners on the RESTORE Council. NOAA and The Nature Conservancy are engaging local partners to recruit and train participants to work on restoration projects.
In April 2021, NOAA was awarded an additional approximately $12 million from the RESTORE Council to continue the program for four more years.
What Does GulfCorps Do?
GulfCorps trains and places participants to work on projects benefiting coastal habitat like wetlands, coastal forests, bogs, savannahs, oyster reefs, rivers, and streams. GulfCorps participants work to remove invasive species, plant native vegetation, stabilize shorelines, repair hydrology, and restore sensitive habitats, while learning about the positive impacts of restoration to local and regional ecosystems. Through this work, GulfCorps participants receive field training that promotes career growth and future employment opportunities in conservation work.
What Does GulfCorps Accomplish?
GulfCorps employed more than 500 participants from around the Gulf coast from 2017-2023 in coastal habitat conservation and restoration in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Collectively during the first five years, these young adults completed more than 330,000 hours of service. They performed a range of conservation and restoration projects on local, state and federal lands and waters positively impacting 22,500 acres of habitat.
From 2023-2025, the GulfCorps program anticipates engaging an additional 90 participants, and restoring more than 3,200 acres of habitat.
How it Works
Multiple eight to ten-person crews are established in each Gulf state. Crews are operational for 8–9 months at a time. Participants are recruited from local communities to serve full time positions, as a team member or team leader. Participants receive field and classroom training on ecology, habitat restoration, and scientific monitoring, as well as workforce development skills like interviewing and resume writing. There is a major focus on 21st century soft skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork. Participants must attend orientation, complete a minimum number of project hours, obtain one industry recognized certification, and complete all workforce development components to earn their GulfCorps completion certificate.
Meet Our Partners
NOAA joined with The Nature Conservancy to oversee and implement GulfCorps across the Gulf coast. The Nature Conservancy partners with The Corps Network, Student Conservation Association, The Ember Alliance, and several local corps organizations to make this dynamic program successful. NOAA and The Nature Conservancy coordinate with the state RESTORE members and public land managers to prioritize and select restoration projects for GulfCorps participation. The GulfCorps model involves local, community-level engagement by contracting with existing conservation corps organizations to recruit, train, and mobilize members to conduct restoration work. This model optimizes both regional consistency in program development, and local participation and expertise at the project level.
Interested in participating or supporting GulfCorps? Contact:
- Eric Vichich, NOAA GulfCorps Manager, Eric.Vichich@noaa.gov
- Jeff DeQuattro, GulfCorps Program Director, firstname.lastname@example.org