fbpx Skip to main content

Some of you who attended the April SVBC monthly social in Ruby’s heard from Zach Foster about an exciting new initiative that he has started in the Shenandoah Valley. We couldn’t be more excited to have youth trail work crews in our area for the foreseeable future. Learn more about the GAVCC from Zach below:
Great Appalachian Valley Conservation Council

The Great Appalachian Valley Conservation Corps (GAVCC) is a new conservation service program that connects local young adults with conservation work on public lands. We’ll be operating our first field season this summer on projects throughout the Valley and surrounding area. This year, the GAVCC will field two summer crews and hopefully one fall crew. The crews will live on site and work on a variety of projects that include trail building, invasive species removal, tree planting and historical preservation. Crew leaders are paid staff and crew members will serve as AmeriCorps participants and receive a living stipend and education award.

My drive to get a Corps program running in the Valley comes from my own experience growing up in Rockingham County. Back then, there were few local opportunities for working and learning in a camping crew setting. Later in Vermont and Colorado, I was able to see how much of an impact the conservation corps model could have in areas that supported a strong program. It seemed to me like young people were able to become more invested in their place and the communities benefited from drastically improved outdoor infrastructure.

The GAVCC is working to meet three primary goals:

First- the GAVCC will provide an opportunity for local young adults to build skills, connections and confidence through paid conservation service work on public lands.

Second- The GAVCC will complete high-quality professional conservation projects to meet the needs of public land managers and users. The GAVCC will be a driver in the community for more high quality, public-access trails. We will achieve this through partnering with regional land managers, like the US Forest Service, to complete sorely needed maintenance and improvement projects. Harrisonburg is a world-class trail destination- the GAVCC aims to become an ally to build support and miles.

Finally- by providing an immersive work and learning experience, the GAVCC will cultivate the next generation of the Valley’s amazing trail community.

The SVBC and the GAVCC share a goal in improving access to good trail and safe human-powered infrastructure. Over the past year, Kyle Lawrence and SVBC have supported me in finding the best ways to build on the work that has already been done in the community. I look forward to continuing that partnership in the coming seasons.

There are plenty of ways to get involved if the GAVCC sounds like something you’d like to support. First, we’ll be accepting applications on a rolling basis through the year. Anyone 18-25y/o is eligible to apply for an AmeriCorps position in the GAVCC. We will also be kicking off of start-up fund raising campaign in late summer for the fall work season. The GAVCC needs seed money to build up a tool cache, buy uniforms and supplies, and offset crew transportation costs. We’d also love any direct donations of used-but-serviceable camping gear and boots to offer to participants who might have trouble purchasing the needed gear.

You can find the GAVCC on Facebook or at gavcc.org. Please feel free to give me a call with any questions!

Zach Foster zach@conservationlegacy.org

(540) 246-9224


Leave a Reply