One common type of story you can expect to see in CCC:Hard Corps is the Corpsmember/Staff Profile. A former Corpsmember or staff will write a little sketch about how he or she came to be in the CCC, what they accomplished while there, and what they’ve been doing since they left. Our first CM Profile is from Ian Dalziel, a recently graduated Crew Leader II from the Redding Center in the Shasta Cascade Service District.
My name is Ian Dalziel. I joined the California Conservation Corps in Redding, during September, 2013. Before this, I spent the majority of my time getting as much experience as possible in the field of acting, both for in front of the camera, or on the stage. But a fun hobby that you dream of making into a career can only take you so far in the short term, so, it was off to the job fair with me.
The last booth I found belonged to something that said “CCC – Hard Work, Low Pay, Miserable Conditions, and more!” along with some pictures showing the sort of work and wilderness living conditions experienced by the Corps, past and present. The chance to have a full work week, get paid to camp, get in shape, and explore the great outdoors of this great state? Irresistible.
So I joined up, with my love of the Rams football team leading to me being placed on then Crew 29 under C1 Aaron Dunson, another Rams man, and last I checked, the Statewide Trail Coordinator for the Corps. My first foray into the program was a spike at Mt. Tamalpais overlooking the Bay Area, with an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant dry stone masonry rock wall project near the peak parking lot. Before my COMET (Corpsmember Orientation, Motivation, Education, and Training) group had arrived, the crew had already partook in six spikes on this project already, with another five after we joined.
Not too long after the spikes at Mt. Tam ended, Aaron Dunson got his marching orders, and Crew 29 would be getting a new C1. Being new and getting used to the crew dynamic, and Aaron as a supervisor, I was hesitant at first, because the gentleman being assigned as C1 was not known to me. I hadn’t yet met him around the Center. His name is Terrance Johnson, the trail building, spam loving, Bronco footballing legend.
During one of our first encounters as Supervisor to Crewmember, he said I would be his red-hat, if I wanted to take on the challenge. Having been impressed by “T”, and wanting to learn more from this font of life experience and trail knowledge, I decided I would go all the way. Three months after T took over and rechristened us as Crew 25, I earned the official position of Crewleader I on the day we left for my longest project with the CCC, the Lassen Peak Trail Restoration.
I experienced twenty-three spikes, four fire camps for five fires, no floods, no stint in Backcountry, and a career-topping experience as part of the most recent Australian Exchange, thus ending my 37 months in the Corps, in October of 2016. Of that time, I was a boy in the blue hat for 8 months, rocked the red hat for 16 months, and finished out as an orange overseer for 13 months. Along the way I made some invaluable friends, while constantly gaining new experience with hand and power tools, trail building, brush cutting, roadside maintenance, tree planting, invasive species removal, safety practices, and so much more as anyone who experiences the CCC can relate to.
These days I look for my next job experience to enjoy, while being signed on as a volunteer for the CCC in Redding so I can still come in and bug the staff and possibly help out on a project or two with my old, now almost entirely different crew. I’m also sure to honk at Terrance Johnson’s house since we live in the same small town about twenty-miles out of Redding. Old habits, and worth it just to see that big grin of his. I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to take on the Corps, to do so in earnest.