National City’s Rosalio “Leo” Cardenas, a member of the California Conservation Corps, was honored February 13 in Washington, D.C. as one of six “Corps Member of the Year” award winners.
Cardenas, 23, is a 2001 graduate of Sweetwater High School and the son of Hector and Socorro Cardenas of National City. He has been a corps member at the CCC’s San Diego Center in National City since January 2006.
The Corps Member of the Year honor was awarded at a Capitol Hill ceremony by The Corps Network, formerly the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, as part of its annual national conference in Washington, D.C. During the conference, Cardenas and the other corps members met and were photographed with First Lady, Laura Bush.
Cardenas was nominated for the national award by staff in the CCC Backcountry Trails Program where he worked in Yosemite and the Klamath National Forest wilderness, away from the comforts of civilization for five months. “In the 28 years we’ve been sending corps members to the backcountry, I can think of no finer person to represent the program or the youth of America,” the program supervisor wrote.
Cardenas also gained experience helping out with the 2006 Esperanza Fire in Riverside County and has worked on numerous conservation projects throughout San Diego County.
Before joining the Corps, Cardenas had spent several semesters working towards a civil engineering degree at San Diego State University. After the CCC, Cardenas hopes to return to college and use his CCC scholarship. He’s thinking about a possible career as a high school math teacher.
The California Conservation Corps, a department under the state Resources Agency, hires young men and women, ages 18 to 25, for a year of natural resource work and emergency response. Positions are available in National City and throughout the state. For information on joining the program, call (619) 409-4380.