August 8: Roosevelt’s Tree Army Comes to Michigan (with Roger Rosentreter)
Thursday, August 8
5:00pm – 7:00pm
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) proved to be one of the most effective and enduring governmental programs in Michigan history. Begun in early 1933 and administered by a series of federal agencies, the CCC took unemployed young men and gave them a job. The “CCCers” (as they were called) planted seedlings, fought forest fires, and took measures to reduce future fires. During their free time, enrollees partook of everything from athletic activities to expanding their knowledge. When the CCC ended in June 1942, Michigan’s 100,000 CCCers had planted almost 500 million trees, while sending more than $20 million of their salaries back home. The CCC improved the morale, health, and education of desperate young men, gave thousands a military-like experience (beneficial in the upcoming war), and earned, according to President Roosevelt, “the admiration of the entire country.” Today, the CCC legacy can be seen and enjoyed every time we come “up north.”
A native Michiganian and former editor of Michigan History Magazine, Roger Rosentreter teaches American history at Michigan State University. His most recent publication is Grand Rapids and the Civil War (2018).