Corpsmembers leading extreme conservation

since 1992.

A letter from Founding Earth Conservation Corpsmember, Rodney Stotts

The Earth Conservation Corps was launched in April 1992 by nine teenagers living in Valley Green public housing community in ward eight. The seven young men and two women understood it was no coincidence the most polluted river in America flowed through communities of color with Washingtons' highest unemployment and crime rates. But each individual was empowered by the knowledge that the garbage choked River and  National Park Land with the omnipresent 'No Trespassing' signs belonged to them. That America's first civil rights battles were fought over access to public parks. 

The Corps became a remarkable team of committed naturalists too busy making a difference to see that something else was happening. Others began to notice these mud caked teenagers pulling mountains of trash out of the Anacostia. Citizens and elected officials were finding their way to the forgotten river, asking for waders and joining the cause of restoring Anacostia. One began to hear the term Environmental racism. 

My name is Rodney Stotts. Twenty nine years ago I was one of those teenagers who launched the Earth Conservation Corps. Yes, we did did launch a movement. A rebounding river now supports five bald eagle pairs and everybody wants to live by the river. We will also share a heartbreaking reality.  Across those years we buried twenty-seven environmental heroes across those years. Amazing young men and women who died from violence or the extreme poverty that defined their short lives and remain power undertows. I press on with the understanding that America remains a work in progress. But above all, it is the joy I when I show a child one of my birds and see their eyes light up. 

Rodney Stotts

Heroes For The Plane

Presented by Pierce Brosnan for National Geographic


In tribute to the founding corpsmembers & all they pioneered...

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Earth Conservation Corpsmembers & River of Hope Partners bringing the Bald Eagle back to the nation's capital, 1995. The first bald eagles to return in over 50 years.

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The Reverend Ivory Teague says that we all find the path, "Many face poverty, racism and environmental injustice everyday. Pollution now makes us all endangered. What to do is right here in the plan. We can finish this by finding Diamond inside everyone.”

In tribute to Reverend Ivory Teague's son, Diamond Teague. We honor Diamond with our hearts and with our service... To Diamond and all of our late & never forgotten corpsmember family.

The start of storytelling on the Anacostia River

To battle the negative stereotype of black urban youth, the original Earth Conservation Corpsmembers were determined to film their own stories and use every effort to bring media attention to the Anacostia River and the surrounding community. Through the creation of Earth Conservation Corps' Youth Media Arts program, the corpsmembers documented their positive environmental service in what became a case study of successful public engagement.  The result shone a bright light on both the power of active conservation and environmental injustice in our nation’s capital. The tide began to shift after 30 million Americans learned of their battle through national broadcasts, including CBS’s ​60 Minutes​, Public Broadcasting’s Now with Bill Moyers​, ABC’s ​World News Tonight,​ and National Public Radio’s ​All Things Considered.

Watch the 60 Minutes coverage of Earth Conservation Corps 

Dr. Dian Fossey

Dr. Dian Fossey inspired the Earth Conservation Corps foundation. Her message of "It's not talking about conservation - it's action. Conservation begins with the boots on your feet" created the drive of a corpsmember activated extreme conservation movement for Earth Conservation Corps thirty years ago. We are so grateful for her tireless battle of gorilla conservation. As her legacy carries on, we ask that you visit her organization's website, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and consider donating to the gorillas. Since Dr. Fossey's movement, the once close to extinction species is now rebounding.

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