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NCCC crews help restore the borderlands with BRN

This spring and summer of 2024, Borderlands Restoration Network (BRN) is proud to host a couple of crews from the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). The NCCC is an AmeriCorps program founded in 1993 that engages 18- to 26-year-olds in team-based, residential community service projects across the United States. Each year, approximately 2,200 individuals representative of all colors, creeds, states, and economic statuses are chosen to serve in one of four regions covering all 50 states and five territories. The mission of AmeriCorps NCCC is "to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service." Each year, NCCC members complete a total of over 1.2 million hours of service across hundreds of projects in the areas of disaster response, infrastructure improvement, environmental conservation, energy conservation, and urban and rural development.


Earth 2 crew at the Borderlands Nursery & Seed greenhouse.
Earth 2 crew at the Borderlands Nursery & Seed greenhouse.

Our first crew, named Earth 2, has been working on the ground for the last month and comprises eight members working for six weeks on various projects based out of Patagonia, AZ. They showed up on April 20 and will be departing on June 1. Earth 2 has been a phenomenal crew, and we really appreciate the hard work and dedication of crew lead Ally and her team: Jordan, Arawen, Bobby, Kaylee, Samuel, Truman, and Zoe. They come from all over the United States and represent New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, North Carolina, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Alabama. 


Members of the group helping clean seeds at the BN&S seed barn.
Members of the group helping clean seeds at the BN&S seed barn.

Because the NCCC crews work 40-hour weeks, we’ve divided their time at BRN between the Native Plant Program, Watershed Restoration Program, Education Program, and The Nature Conservancy’s Sonoita Creek Preserve. The Native Plant Program gets them two days a week on Mondays and Wednesdays, where they’ve been helping clean seeds, transplant agaves and milkweed, and prep the 1-acre milkweed field. On Tuesdays, they help build erosion control structures with the Watershed Restoration Program crew. On Thursdays, they’ve been helping out at the Borderlands Earth Care Center and with the Mountain Empire Trail Association, and on Fridays, they work with Aaron Mrotek at The Nature Conservancy in Patagonia, maintaining trails, building fire breaks, and helping with fish surveys. 


NCCC crew members transplanting native species.
NCCC crew members transplanting native species.

The Earth 2 crew stays together at the Old Main school site, where BRN has transformed an old classroom into a bunk house rented from the Patagonia Unified School District. They share meals and have also been volunteering their time helping out with various projects in the community, from the food bank to the community garden. This is not the first hitch for this crew. They’ve been working together since October 2023, all over the country, and we’re happy and appreciative that they can come here for this time with us to help us out during a very busy time of year. 


Crew members working at the BN&S seed plot.
Crew members working at the BN&S seed plot.

We have yet to meet our newest summer crew. They will be a crew of 12 also bunking in the dorms and working with us from June 22 to July 13. This crew will be helping us to plant our milkweed plugs in the growout field, working at the nursery, some basic farm maintenance, and helping out at The Nature Conservancy one day a week. 


Programs like Americorps NCCC are fantastic ways for young people to travel, give back to our communities, and make lifelong and lasting friendships with a team of folks from various walks of life. We look forward to hosting NCCC crews in the future and hope this is the beginning of a long relationship with this program to help us with ecological restoration in the borderlands of southern Arizona.

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