The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) programme originated in the United States of America, and ran during the post-Depression years of 1933 to 1942. As part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal Initiative, the CCC was designed to implement a nationwide environmental conservation programme by providing unskilled manual labour jobs to unemployed, unmarried young male volunteers aged 18 to 25 years.
Volunteers were required to undergo a physical examination, and serve at least one (1) six-month period of employment in the programme, with the possibility of serving three (3) more six-month periods, for a total of two years. During that time, volunteers performed manual labour in projects related to structural improvement, transportation, erosion control, flood control, forestry and forest protection, recreation, wildlife and miscellaneous projects.
During the 9 years that the programme was active, volunteers planted 3 billion trees, constructed more than 800 new parks, upgraded existing parks, updated forest fire-fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways in remote areas.
The volunteers, who received shelter, clothing, food, healthcare and a monthly wage, boasted improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employability. The programme also increased the general public's awareness and appreciation of the nation's natural resources, and the need for a comprehensive national programme for the protection and development of those natural resources.
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On 20 November, 1992, the Honourable Wendell Mottley, Minister of Finance, introduced the Cabinet and people of Trinidad and Tobago to what was originally President Roosevelt's concept of the Civilian Conservation Corps. In that speech, the Honourable Minister indicated that the Trinidad and Tobago CCC would address two grave needs: prevalent unemployment among individuals aged 18 to 25 yeas old, and the conservation of our nation's beautiful natural environment.
In Section 7 of his speech, the Honourable Minister indicated that the CCC would be overseen and administered by the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, under the Ministry of National Security, and would "not only impart important skills to participants but also contribute immeasurably to the conservation of our environment."
On 4 February, 1993, the Cabinet agreed to the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps Programme and thus, the Trinidad and Tobago Civilian Conservation Corps was officially created. The first cycle of the CCC programme began on 14th June, 1993 with 743 trainees in four (4) regions.
The Trinidad and Tobago Civilian Conservation Corps successfully completed that first cycle in 1993, and steadily gained momentum in subsequent years. Unfortunately, the programme was discontinued in 1999, despite its success.
On 14 March, 2002, the Cabinet revitalised the Civilian Conservation Corps programme. It was re-engineered and decided that it would once again be overseen by the Ministry of National Security’s Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force.
The revitalised Trinidad and Tobago Civilian Conservation Corps commenced with the following objectives:
- To train and develop our nation’s unemployed citizens aged 18 to 25 years for employment;
- To curb the rising incidence of crimes committed by citizens within this age group;
- To raise the self-esteem of participants;
- To foster socially desirable and well-balanced behaviours among those participants;
- To foster in them a sense of national pride and improve civic-mindedness;
- To provide them with temporary employment;
- To develop in them an understanding and sensitivity to the natural environment;
- To assist the Forestry Division in its reaforestation and environmental conservation efforts.
In January 2007, the Cabinet established the Specialised Youth Services Programme (S.Y.S.P.) as the coordinating
headquarters of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The S.Y.S.P. worked diligently with the CCC, and this joint effort
made the programme not only fully functional, but also tremendously successful. The success of the CCC programme led
to the establishment of three (3) other programmes under the S.Y.S.P.:
- the Military-Led Academic Training (MILAT) programme,
- the Military-Led Youth Partnership of Apprenticeship and Re-orientation Training (MYPART), and
- the National Youth Service (NYS) programme.
The CCC was the benchmark that was used to conceptualise the other programmes.
Major Richardson and the staff of the Trinidad and Tobago Civilian Conservation Corps are very proud of the fact that the programme has helped over 35,000 of our nation's young men and women thus far. We look forward to growing even stronger as we remain focused on and committed to getting our nation’s youth ready for life!
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