Aberdeen picked as Community Corps site

March 22, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

Aberdeen Proving Ground is the first of four sites selected to house National Civilian Community Corps units that undertake projects in the areas of education, public safety, human needs and the environment.

The Aberdeen headquarters will house corps members who will perform community service in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and will be in operation by the summer.

Maryland's Democratic U.S. Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes were to announce the selection today in Washington.

The other three regional sites have not yet been announced.

The National Civilian Community Corps is a special program of Americorps, President Clinton's national service initiative, which was enacted by Congress in September, corps spokesman Chuck Everett said yesterday.

Americorps expects to include up to 20,000 young people by the end of the year.

The National Civilian Community Corps branch will have 1,000 members who will perform community service in exchange for educational awards for college tuition or to repay student loans.

The NCCC branch of Americorps will use four converted military bases, each housing 250 corps members between the ages of 18 and 24 years. The Aberdeen unit will be in operation by summer, said Mr. Everett, adding that corps members assigned to it will perform community service throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

David Silverberg, an environmental program specialist for the corps, said assignments will include lead paint abatement work, urban stream restoration, habitat restoration, trail reconstruction and erosion problems.

He said the corps will focus on problems, not issues, and strive to teach that ecological problems are related to economics and cultural dignity.

For example, Mr. Silverberg said, trash tossed into a park stream and its resulting pollution costs money to clean up. Once it is removed, people using the neighborhood park for recreation can feel good about their environment.

If the corps members learn by doing, they then can go into a classroom and teach others, especially younger children, the same valuable lesson.

He said corps members will perform their service primarily in urban and rural environmental outreach programs, much in the manner of the original Civilian Conservation Corps, which inspired the current program.

The corps is not a boot camp or a vocational program, nor does it mimic Operation Challenge, a program run by the Maryland National Guard to rescue teen-agers who have dropped out of Maryland and Washington high schools.

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