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O'Brien completes Conservation Corps service

Kelly O'Brien, 21, of Cloquet has completed a year of service with the Minnesota Conservation Corps as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Duluth. For almost 11 months, O'Brien has been working in parks and public lands on a variety of conservation projec...

Kelly O'Brien, 21, of Cloquet has completed a year of service with the Minnesota Conservation Corps as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Duluth. For almost 11 months, O'Brien has been working in parks and public lands on a variety of conservation projects, from trail maintenance to fire suppression.

O'Brien and her four-member crew worked with the Grand Portage Reservation to help preserve two historic log structures, a community building and Old Log School, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps Indian Division in the late 1930s. The crew scraped away old paint and lightly sanded logs that were severely damaged by earlier attempts to sandblast the old paint. In August, they applied log preservative, recaulked and stained.

The crew also worked on maintaining and constructing portions of the Superior Hiking Trail, cutting and treating buckthorn on the Western Waterfront Trail in Duluth and building exclosures to keep out deer in sections of Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse State Parks.

The Minnesota Conservation Corps, a nonprofit organization, provides young adults like O'Brien with hands-on environmental stewardship and service opportunities, technical and personal skills training and professional certifications such as fire suppression, chain saw safety and first aid. Corpsmembers receive a monthly stipend and, after completing their term, a $4,725 education award for post-secondary education and student loan expenses.

With 17 crews statewide, the Conservation Corps accomplishes conservation, natural-resource management and emergency response work throughout Minnesota and the Midwest. For more information or to apply for a corpsmember position, visit www.conservationcorps.org .

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