Student Conservation Association

During its 60 years, SCA has engaged nearly 90,000 students in every kind of conservation service throughout the US. Partners include the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, all trying to diversify their workforces by hiring minorities. To help meet their needs, SCA partners with them to provide career-track internships, and recruits extensively at traditionally minority-serving institutions. SCA program participants now mirror the diversity of the U.S. population.

SCA offers a continuum of programs to underserved urban high school students, like those in the Pittsburgh Urban Initiatives Programs. Graduates can go on to more advanced positions with SCA, including SCA National Crews which offer expense-paid outdoor experiences in national parks and forests, working with small teams of peers from around the country to build trails and improve habitats. Crew Leader Apprentice positions offering leadership experience are available to Urban Initiatives alumni at age 19 or older.

SCA can positively affect the life trajectories of disconnected and underserved youth. The goal of SCA’s program continuum is to produce engaged and responsible citizens who believe that the protection of natural and cultural resources is their responsibility.

Last year, SCA engaged more than 9,600 volunteers, 4,000 of them in SCA field programs and an additional 5,500 in community service events and projects. Their 1,300,000 hours of work and dedication produced the following energy and resource conservation impacts:

  • 735 miles of waterway restored and 2,095 miles of public trails built, improved, or maintained
  • 132,814 million acres of plant and wildlife habitat made healthier through restoration projects
  • 935,283 people received environmental education provided by SCA volunteers

A recent retrospective study of SCA alumni who participated in programs five to ten years earlier found that 65% of employed alumni are working or studying in a conservation or sustainability-related field. A former director of the National Park Service estimated that 12% of NPS staff is SCA alumni – a figure that is growing every year. By attracting inner city youth to work with nature, SCA is helping to change the face of conservation in the U.S.

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