As one of the most successful programs of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, The Civilian Conservation Corps was an integral part of the American economic recovery of the 1930s. Explore the goals and successes of the CCC, and debate whether such a program might be appropriate today. Discuss what the CCC did for America’s youth and culture. Research CCC camp locations and find projects that are still in use in your area.
Five lesson plans are outlined on the following pages of this Teacher’s Guide, each complete with its own set of tasks and resources.
Enacted during the first days of the Roosevelt administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps mobilized over three million young, unemployed Americans for nine years across the nation. This direct effort of the federal government initiated a series of programs to help pull individuals and the nation as a whole out of the Great Depression while developing infrastructure in local, state, and national parks that is still in place today. Opponents decried the increased involvement of the government in the economy while others praised its efforts. This balance is still hotly contested in modern times.
Length of Lesson: 4-6 Days
Tasks: Research the CCC using the following general categories:
Based upon the research and the current economic needs of the nation, develop an argument for or against a modern version of the CCC.
1. In small groups or individually, research the history of the CCC, using the categories in the Task list. Use the provided resources to complete this section.
2. After completing the research phase, analyze the findings and determine the overall success of the program based upon its goals.
3. Using the provided resources (see below), research the current economic status of the United States, including unemployment numbers and the potential need for conservation efforts.
4. Decide if a modern version of the CCC would be appropriate today and begin outlining arguments that support your position.
If the group advocates a modern program, include the following topics in your argument:
If the group rejects a modern program, include the following topics in your argument:
5. Using the outline, develop a presentation. Incorporate images, charts, and other visuals to bolster your argument. Utilize PowerPoint or other presentation options such as Google Docs, Slide Rocket, Prezi, etc.
6. Present your argument to the class.
7. Discuss class findings.
Extension Idea: Expand this to multiple New Deal programs.
The Civilian Conservation Corps mobilized hundreds of thousands of men from all parts of the nation to protect and to provide greater access to America’s environment for the American people. When it was initially established, the Army was the only government agency capable of mobilizing such an effort, with reserve officers often acting as camp directors. The War Department worked closely with the Labor and Agricultural Departments to ensure that the camps maintained their civilian status and focus on conservation efforts. However, the basic structure of the camp and the day-to-day routines shared some characteristics with army life. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, many CCC participants claimed the program had prepared them well for the rigors of Army life in World War II.
Length of Lesson: 1-2 Days
1. As a class or in small groups, show the video segments and review the provided links.
2. Create a Venn Diagram and make a comparison between life in the CCC and life in the military in World War II. Consider the following questions:
3. Discuss the results as a class and evaluate the impact of the CCC on the nation’s preparation for war.
The Civilian Conservation Corps opened its programs to all racial groups within the United States. The initial legislation that created the CCC even included an anti-discrimination clause. While minority groups faced societal racism both in and out of the CCC, they actively contributed to the many successful projects across the country.
Length of Lesson: 1-2 Days
1. Create a chart with three major sections: accomplishments, treatment, and policy changes.
2. Watch the video segments and review the provided resources, adding related items to the chart.
3. Discuss findings and answer the following questions as a class or individually:
From 1933 to 1942, thousands of CCC camps housed an army of unemployed Americans working on conservation projects across all 48 states. From the development of more than 800 state parks to the fighting of forest fires to the creation of fisheries, these works have left an enduring legacy. Much of the infrastructure, including roads, trails and pipelines, remains in place and use today.
Length of Lesson: 3-5 Days
1. Select a region or type of camp to research (e.g. your home state, or National or State Parks or forests).
2. Using the CCC Project Map and the provided resources, select and research 10-15 specific projects or camp locations.
4. For each project or camp, provide a description of the work, conditions, barriers, and other notable information. Additionally, analyze the short and long-term impact of the projects on the local community.
5. If anyone has visited any of the locations, include personal photos and descriptions of the CCC-built assets that remain in place.
CCC Information in Selected Locations
Young men from around the country joined the Civilian Conservation Corps to escape the vast unemployment caused by the Great Depression. These men moved throughout the nation to take part in the largest conservation effort the United States had ever seen. The experiences of these men, both before and during their time in the CCC, demonstrated the harsh economic times and the tremendous opportunities provided by the federal government.
Length of Lesson: 2-3 Days
1. Use the provided resources to research life in the CCC camps. Limit your focus to two to three topics.
2. Find three or more images to accompany your letter or diary entry.
3. Write your letter or diary entry.
4. If possible, publish your project on a blog, a VoiceThread, or other digital medium. (If using VoiceThread, allow students to set up free accounts or consider an educational subscription. VoiceThread also has an Frequently Asked Questions section and tutorials available.)
The contradictory history of a dam that became a statement of American power and prestige.
A personal story of one family's dramatic effort to hold onto their family farm in Iowa as massive foreclosures sweep the nation in the 1990s.
The story of Native peoples’ valiant resistance to expulsion from their lands and the extinction of their culture.
The story of the farmers who dreamed of prosperity and lived through ten years of drought, dust, disease and death.
High on a granite cliff in South Dakota's Black Hills tower the huge carved faces of four American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
During the Great Depression, Americans built the Hoover Dam, one of the greatest engineering works in history.
William "Buffalo Bill" Cody's legendary exploits helped create the myth of the American West that still endures today.
A six-hour series on how the West was lost and won, from the Gold Rush in 1848 until Wounded Knee in 1893.