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The Earth Conservation Corps

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Society and Community:
Endangered Species
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The Earth Conservation Corps

NOW's presentation "Endangered Species" tells a story of urban blight and community faith. One of America's gleaming symbols of freedom and prosperity, Washington, DC is also home to one of the most impoverished and polluted neighborhoods in America. On the banks of the Anacostia River, the Southeast section of the nation's capital has been an environmental disaster area and a home for violence. But today a non-profit group called the Earth Conservation Corps (ECC), composed of young adults from under-resourced communities, is bringing hope to this neighborhood under siege.

View NOW's "Endangered Species."

Get an update on the ECC

Jerome Glover


The Earth Conservation Corps (ECC) was founded in 1989 and takes as its mission "providing hands-on environmental education, job training and community service programs for people of all ages from diverse backgrounds, with an emphasis on serving at-risk youth from the inner-city neighborhoods of Washington D.C."

ECC corps members give 1700 hours to cleaning up the environment, protecting endangered wildlife and providing community service to their neighbors and peers. This earns Corps members a $9,600 stipend, health insurance and child care benefits as well as a $4,700 scholarship. Since it started, more than 800 young adults have graduated from the ECC program. Those graduates have collectively earned $2.5 million in AmeriCorps education awards to help realize their future goals.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ECC: Watch a selection of the ECC's pilot series documenting their work on the environment by clicking on the icon above.

Diamond Teague


As NOW's story "Endangered Species" also documents, the ECC has lost a number of members to violence. Since this project began, an average of one Corps member has been murdered almost every year. According to the Corps' records, one of their members was beaten to death. One was raped and killed. Another was riding his bike when he got caught in the middle of a shootout. Three were shot execution-style.

One such loss was that of Diamond Teague, who had completed seven months in the Corps and was about to head off to college on the scholarship he'd earned helping clean up the environment. The Corps is dedicating its reality television series to Teague's memory.

WATCH THE MEMORIAL: Watch the ECC's tribute to Diamond Teague by clicking on the icon above.

EPA photo of the Anacostia River, 1977, National Archives

The Southeastern Washington D.C. neighborhood known as Anacostia has a long history. Frederick Douglass broke race barriers became one of the first African-Americans to buy a home in the neighborhood adjacent to the Capitol in 1877. However, in the 1930s, depression-era images of slum dwelling in the shadow of the capitol building reflected the hard lives of those who lived there. Today, according to a recent DC Agenda report, the poverty rate is 38 percent, up from 32 percent in 1980. The 2000 unemployment rate was 22 percent. Fifty percent of the neighborhood's children live in poverty.

As documented in "Endangered Species," this area has also suffered greatly in environmental terms. The image to the left is one of a series taken by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970s. The EPA was concerned with the quality of the air and water flowing in the Anacostia River, concerns that remain today.

Bald Eagle

One of the Earth Conservation Corps' success stories is the reintroduction of the national symbol, the bald eagle, to the nation's capital. The project, which relocated fledglings from Wisconsin, has been a great success. The ECC is now helping other urban areas reintroduce eagles. In 2002, when four fledgling bald eagles were relocated from Wisconsin to Inwood Hill Park in northern Manhattan two ECC Eagle Program veterans were there to help the project get on its feet.

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