After more than a year of planning and fundraising, X-Cel Education joined the nation-wide Corps Network and established the first Conservation Corps in Boston in September 2018. For more than four decades, conservation corps organizations have been created across the U.S. to offer high-quality education and career training opportunities in the environmental, conservation and agricultural fields. X-Cel Conservation Corps focuses on matching young adults from Greater Boston with educational and career opportunities focused on water conservation and wastewater management.  

X-Cel Conservation Corps operates three cycles each year, Spring, Summer and Fall.  In our first year of operation we recruited and enrolled 16 crew members for the fall, spring and summer cohorts combined.  The Corps is managed by longtime X-Cel staff member Aaron Dale. For the first component of the program, Corps members who lack a high school credential participate in X-Cel’s HiSET Prep classes three days a week, while all corps members participate in 20 hours a week of paid work on various water conservation projects in the Greater Boston area in partnership with local environmental organizations.  All corps members also participate in weekly workshops that focus on workforce readiness skill development. Through this process corps members obtain their high school equivalency, strengthen work-readiness skills, develop leadership skills, gain new knowledge and experience about the environment and water conservation and participate in development and completion of conservation projects that will have a lasting benefit to our environment.  Corps members also participate in workplace site visits to gain exposure to various careers in the water management and environmental space. Professionals from this sector speak to corps members about their careers and offer advice and guidance concerning pursuing water management or environmental careers.

In our first year of operation X-Cel Conservation Corps formed strong partnerships with Charles River Watershed Association, Mass Audubon, City Soil, Neponset River Watershed Association, Newton Conservancy, and Milton Department of Public Works to design and implement water conservation work projects.   Staff members from each of these organizations also trained X-Cel Conservation Corps crew members in the skills needed to complete the work projects.  Skills learned included benthic macroinvertebrate collection and identification, habitat assessment, trail and brook clearing, construction of stormwater filtration socks, and building and installation of rain barrels, green infrastructure, invasive species identification and removal, and water quality testing, including e Coli and pH testing.

Upon completion of the ten-week phase one of X-Cel Conservation Corps, crew members apply for and interview to be placed in a paid internship with a local water company or utility.  Our current employer partner is Woodard & Curran, where several of X-Cel Conservation Corps members have been placed.  Through these internships they gain further knowledge and experience in the field of wastewater treatment and begin classes in preparation for the Massachusetts wastewater treatment certification exam.