WATSONVILLE, Calif. -

Twenty five members of the California Conservation Corps from Watsonville and San Jose have been dispatched to the French Fire in Madera County to assist.

Other California Corps Conservation crews are working at the Sands Fire in Amador County and the El Portal fire in Yosemite National Park.

The CCC has openings now for those interested in firefighting and a wide range of outdoor work. During a year in the CCC, corpsmembers -- young men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 -- tackle a variety of natural resource projects as well as emergency response such as fires, floods and oil spills. The Monterey Bay crews work throughout Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties.

Corpsmembers are nonresidential -- commuting to Watsonville or San Jose each day. The pay is $9 an hour plus vacation and medical benefits. For those without high school diplomas, there's a chance to earn them through the corps.  After completing a year, corpsmembers will be eligible for scholarships.

Corps members also volunteer at many community events, including the upcoming Watsonville Strawberry Festival. Members will have a booth at this weekend's event to talk with the public about what the program does and how to join.

For more information, visit the California Conservation Corps website or contact Annie Garcia at 722-2195 or annie.garcia@ccc.ca.gov.

Gov. Jerry Brown created the California Conservation Corps, a state agency, in 1976.  Since that time, more than 120,000 young men and women have participated.