Sen. Merkley receives award for helping save Wolf Creek Job Corps

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley received a national award last week for his efforts to save Wolf Creek Job Corps and the other 24 Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers like it across the country.

Merkley, and Oregon Democrat who grew up in Myrtle Creek, received the Franklin D. Roosevelt Service and Conservation Corps Leadership Award Tuesday at the 17th annual Friends of National Service Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The award came from Voices for National Service, an organization that supports volunteer service programs like AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.

All the Job Corps centers had been slated for closure or privatization by the Trump administration under a 2019 decision. However, the administration changed course following a bipartisan push to keep them open.

Merkley and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, were instrumental in ensuring Wolf Creek remained in public hands. The Glide facility was set to be privatized.

Like the other Job Corps facilities, Wolf Creek offers training to students for whom traditional schooling isn’t a good option. Wolf Creek has a popular forestry conservation and training program and its supporters feared it would be jeopardized if it were separated from the Forest Service.

Voices for National Service President AnnMaura Connolly praised Merkley’s efforts to save programs she said will provide valuable vocational training to 3,000 young people in rural communities across the country.

“Senator 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,” Connolly said in a press release.

Merkley said Wolf Creek provides important training and service that leads to full-time jobs for many graduates.

“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 in a press release.

A bipartisan group of legislators and leaders in business and journalism also received awards from the organization Tuesday.