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Johnson Controls' Conservation Leadership Corps provides summer jobs for Detroit-area teens

This summer 80 Detroit-area students will participate in a unique employment experience through Johnson Controls' Conservation Leadership Corps (CLC), a summer jobs program created and sponsored by Johnson Controls in partnership with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and The Greening of Detroit.

In its sixth year in Detroit, the CLC provides students with training to build leadership and professional development skills, a hands-on conservation experience and a personal sense of stewardship in completing environmental projects throughout the city.

During the six-week program, students will work with 16 crew leaders at Belle Isle Park, Detroit's River Rouge Park, Eliza Howell Park, the Brightmoor neighborhood and D-Town Farm. Students will participate in projects including outdoor classroom construction, new trail development, green space acreage expansion, planting of native trees, grasses and flowers, invasive plant species removal, and general operations management. Students also will cultivate vital professional development skills, including help with resume writing, interview skills and personal finance management.

"Each year our Conservation Leadership Corps helps students develop new skills to succeed personally and professionally," said Jennifer Mattes, director, global public affairs for Johnson Controls. "This unique program gives students an experience that helps make them more competitive job candidates, while offering first-hand experience on the importance of environmental conservation."

The student employees from The Greening of Detroit's Green Corps and CLC will work together on some projects, including the watering and maintenance of trees throughout the city. 

"The Greening of Detroit is pleased to partner once again with the CLC because it broadens our ability to impact neighborhoods across our city," said Rebecca Salminen-Witt, president of The Greening of Detroit. "The collective employment of 200 young people also provides economic benefit and the opportunity to nurture a new squadron of environmental stewards."

The CLC participants were selected from more than 500 applicants based on their successful completion of a two-month process. Student candidates were assessed on leadership, work ethic, civic engagement, and interest and commitment to the environment.

On July 31, Johnson Controls employees will work alongside the students as they volunteer with CLC teams at several Detroit locations for an environmental learning experience. Activities will include planting, developing and maintaining trails, and removing invasive plant species.

On August 9, the students will participate in a professional development day – hosted by Johnson Controls' Automotive Experience business at the company's headquarters in Plymouth, Mich. – where they will learn the importance of sustainability, energy efficiency, hybrid battery technology and expectations of today and tomorrow's leaders. Students will engage in career-focused presentations from each of Johnson Controls' businesses – Automotive Experience, Building Efficiency and Power Solutions.

This year the SCA will pilot a Crew Leader Apprentice program funded by a grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's Youth Leadership and Civic Engagement program. This program will provide new employment opportunities, additional career training and field experience for CLC program alumni who fall between the student member age requirement of 15 to 18 and the required crew leader starting age of 21.  For 2013, five Crew Leader Apprentices will be employed through the program.

The program will culminate in a graduation ceremony on August 16 at Belle Isle Park, where the CLC students, crew leaders and community partners will present awards to the CLC teams.

Additionally, the SCA is working in partnership with Legacy Land Conservancy, Six Rivers Land Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy and Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy to plan and implement the Southeast Michigan Summer Conservation Corps, a four-week employment program for eight Detroit high school students and two young adult leaders who will work in the field alongside the CLC crews on conservation projects throughout the Detroit region. The Southeast Michigan Summer Conservation Corps is being supported by a generous private donor.

Support for the program is also being provided by Chase, the City of Detroit Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, the Detroit School Garden Collaborative, the DTE Energy Foundation, Grow Detroit's Young Talent and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.