The Montana Conservation Corps grew out of great ideas, great people, and a great legacy. Stories of men joining and serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps can be heard at coffee counters across Montana in places like the Western Café. Tales of their accomplishments to improve the landscape and the spirits of the young people who joined are numerous and verging on mythical, in the best tradition of Montana.
In fact, many people had a hand in the creation and birth of the Montana Conservation Corps as a thriving nonprofit organization. State legislators in the 1980’s created legislation to authorize a state agency, but no funding resulted. Then, in 1990, Human Resource Development Council agencies from Billings, Bozeman and Kalispell registered the name Montana Conservation Corps and established a nonprofit organization. Our first Executive Director, Steve Nelsen, tells of starting MCC then with nothing but a desk, a phone, and a box of Kleenex.
The first MCC crews were fielded in the summer of 1991 through the cooperation of the HRDC and sponsoring agencies such as the City of Billings, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the U.S. Forest Service. Governor Marc Racicot tagged MCC as the cornerstone of Montana’s National Service effort and helped MCC obtain AmeriCorps funding in 1993, which doubled the budget and established regional staff.
Now MCC has a multimillion-dollar budget and has matured into a leader in the national corps movement. We are proud of our humble roots and thankful for all those that have contributed to the development of MCC over the years. To all of our alumni, staff, board volunteers, and community champions—Thank you for being a part of the Montana Conservation Corps.