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Sen. Jeff Merkley received the Franklin D. Roosevelt Service and Conservation Corps Leadership Award

Sen. Jeff Merkley

For his efforts in keeping Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers open after a proposed closure last year, Sen. Jeff Merkley received the Franklin D. Roosevelt Service and Conservation Corps Leadership Award from Voices for National Service.

Merkley was honored on Tuesday. Feb. 11, at the 17th Annual Friends of National Service Awards in Washington, D.C.

"Sen. Merkley is an exemplary public servant who understands the value of service both in the communities served and in the lives of those who step forward to serve," said AnnMaura Connolly, president of Voices for National Service. "He has supported the federal investment in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps and, this year, he helped to defeat a short-sighted proposal that threatened Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers around the country. These centers provide valuable vocational training to 3,000 young people in rural communities and the students help conserve natural resources, manage public recreation areas and respond to natural disasters, including wildfires. Voices for National Service is honored to present Senator Merkley with our Franklin D. Roosevelt Service and Conservation Corps Leadership Award."

Last May, the U.S. Department of Labor accepted a letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stating the Forest Service would withdraw from operating Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers. Nine centers were proposed for deactivation, including Timber Lake Job Corps near Estacada, and others would have continued under new contract operators.

Merkley, along with Congressmen Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), led a bipartisan, bicameral effort of 18 senators and 33 representatives to reverse the decision.

Additionally, Merkley and Sen. Ron Wyden joined colleagues in

introducing legislation to prevent the removal of federal funds from the centers through the Job Corps protection act, which would have blocked the federal government from using funds in 2019 or 2020 to close any centers and prohibit changes being made to agreements that operate Job Corps facilities, which would prevent them from being transferred out of the U.S. Forest Service.

"As a longstanding supporter of national service and conservation service corps, I am honored to receive this recognition from Voices for National Service," Merkley said.

Along with Merkley, honorees during the Friends of National Service Awards ceremony included Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.), and CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

A press release noted that, "Voices for National Service has built strong bipartisan support among our nation's leaders and helped to elevate national service as a powerful strategy for tackling unmet needs, preparing young people for work, uniting our country and developing civic character."

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