Youth Conservation Corps – An Experience to Last a Lifetime

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Back row:  Calvin Gehri, Biological Technician. Front Row L-R:  Arena Bark, YCC Crew Leader, Anne Taylor, YCC member - Photo credit:  FWSA collection of youth in the Midwest found that banding geese and wading in a river collecting aquatic plants qualified as a summer job.   

“I had always admired them from a far, but actually getting a chance to hold one was an amazing experience,” wrote one Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) enrollee about their goose banding experience on Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Wisconsin. Another enrollee wrote, “That experience will last me a lifetime!”

Ron Fisher, Assistant Manager at Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge commented, “I think some of the more fun days for our YCC enrollees were when they were involved in their environmental education activities.” Fisher coordinated two YCC crews throughout the summer. Most of their work involved maintenance, including helping pouring the foundation for a bunkhouse and repairing accessible trails.

YCC enrollee Erin Kelly banding a Canada goose.  One of the enrollees wrote:  “I enjoyed goose banding the most.  I had always admired them from a far, but actually getting a chance to hold one was an amazing experience.”On the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge YCC Crew Leader Arena Bark taught her YCC crew about scientific study protocol. Then they jumped in the river and started diving under the water to collect wild celery. Each youth was asked to file a program evaluation. One of the youth wrote, “I enjoyed [the most] diving on Lake Onalaska for the Wild Celery Survey.” As you can imagine a hot summer day spent working “in the river” was a special memory.

Bill Thrune, Wildlife Refuge Specialist commented, “I’m a graduate of a program called the Neighborhood Youth Corps and it was probably my first foot in the door to my career. I would call it my first real job. I imagine some of our YCC enrollees may pursue a career in conservation after their summer job experience, just like I did.”  

So, YCC experiences may offer an experience to last a lifetime and offer a career in the making.