NC’s Electric Cooperatives partners with Conservation Corps NC to restore natural habitats

For more than 10 years, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives have been supporting crews of young adults who are helping revitalize land across the state through a partnership with Conversation Corps North Carolina.

The partnership was born out of a shared goal, to build resilient communities and a brighter future.

“They serve the underserved communities, and specifically focus their efforts on rural areas,” said Khalil Porter, manager of environmental affairs at North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. “We have the same core principles and values, and we have been able to see first-hand how these projects are serving people in cooperative service areas and beyond.”

Crew works to restore a trail.

North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives has helped support Conservation Corps NC’s youth programming, which sends crews of high school students across the state to restore and re-establish habitats and community spaces. Over the past three years, the Conservation Corps NC has impacted over 100 young people in our state.

“We are so grateful to have the co-ops as a partner in our youth programming,” said Jessie Birckhead, corps director at Conservation Corps North Carolina. “Their support allows us to continue to serve more youth across the state, providing meaningful experiences that build job skills, cultivate leadership, and connect youth to conservation work in their communities.”

Recently, Conservation Corps NC crews have played a vital role in restoring trails and land in Pisgah National Forest and Uwharrie National Forest. These habitat restoration projects help to serve both visitors and natural inhabitants.

Along with pledging support, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives have taken the time to mentor these young adults in the field, visiting several project sites around the state.

Crew poses with a new bridge they built along a trail.

“Taking the time to join these groups at their worksites has been a unique experience,” said Richard McCall, director of environmental and transmission compliance at North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. “We share with them how we are looking for sustainable ways to provide power while doing it reliably and affordably.”

Many of the students who take part in these projects said it strengthened their passion to serve their communities and environment.

The commitment they make each summer to Conservation Corps NC creates a lasting impact that is felt well beyond each project’s conclusion.

“This isn’t just about investing in projects, it’s about investing in that next generation,” said McCall. “These are the people that are going to look out for the environment and cooperative members. Programs like this help them to be responsible citizens and responsible stewards of the environment.”