As a high school student, I went from the South Side of Chicago to Olympic National Park to do conservation work in the wilderness. The experience of being given adult responsibilities and doing hard physical labor under difficult conditions (it rained constantly) with teenagers from all over the U.S. changed my life. I subsequently served two years in the Peace Corps, chose career paths in education and conservation, and eventually worked as an administrator for this non-profit. SCA's fifty-five year history puts it in the top rank of outdoor programs for high school and college students.
When I was in college, the SCA presented an excellent opportunity to explore the USA by the exact means that fit the typical college student. Those means being that we generally have no money, no place to live, and are free as a bird for the summer. The SCA didn't improve my finances but they ensured stasis - providing a roof over my head and an stipend for food. Now, for the work. The best way to explore a culture is to be a part of that community and that is exactly what the SCA did for me. By allowing and encouraging me to give my time and sweat I became immersed in the life and history of the sage brush desert, the oregon trail, beef cattle farmers, and the Bureau of Land Management. All of those things completely foreign to a northeastern suburban girl. I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity our country has to offer. The knowledge, growth, and acceptance I gained from that experience also gave me more pride and confidence in who I am today. I am forever grateful to how the SCA changed my life. [The only reason I would not volunteer for this organization again is because I can no longer drop my daily responsibilities for the extended periods of time that the SCA specializes in. I applaud their approach and work.]
Review from CharityNavigator
I had my first and only encounter with SCA in the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve in the summer of 2012. I was a couple miles into the wilderness when I stopped to chat with a few young people with hard hats, picks, and shovels working on the trail I was using. I barely caught the name of their organization (SCA), but ran into them again the next two days as I hiked the area looking for bighorn sheep (I had an archery tag). On my last day, I ended up camping close to their camp and they were packing up to leave the same day. I stopped by to offer my thanks for all their hard work on the trails and had a nice discussion with several of them. Turns out, they had been out there for 4 weeks! The Park Service had dropped them off with equipment and supplies, and they had worked on their own for a month, and without pay! I thought, wow, it must be a pretty amazing organization that can find young people (early 20s?) to make that kind of commitment. I found the group on-line and made a small donation that day.
The SCA has a worthy vision and distinct mission to engage disconnected American youth, families and communities who need opportunity to visit our National Parks and natural public lands to become generational citizen stewards and ethnically diverse conservation leaders. I highly commend the SCA vision and mission as a former U.S. Department of Interior career Endangered Species Biologist and Wildlife Resource Regional Analyst overseeing Partnerships with the SCA, other government agencies, military and academic institutions. Having served many years in national nonprofit leadership raising vision, millions of dollars in individual funding and directing ethnic volunteer programs in numerous government institutions, the SCA is among the most dependable and capable youth conservation organizations serving this nation since 1957. - Barry Nilson, Amherst, NH
Excellent non-profit providing high school and college students with opportunities to help preserve our national wilderness, doing work and learning through in the field experiences.