At 7:30 a.m. sharp on June 11, 2012, seven Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) students, ages 15 through 18, rolled into a classroom at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) National Conservation Training Center (NCTC). Getting up early at 7:30 is hard enough for any high school student. Being ready to work at 7:30 a.m. during their summer vacation, nonetheless, is unfathomable!
During the YCC’s eight weeks of summer employment, these young men and women have accomplished numerous outdoor projects with dedication. They helped install an outdoor classroom for pre-school children, remove invasive species, and build a river trail—one of their largest projects. NCTC trail work included installing water bars to prevent erosion, constructing check steps to act as a step down for trail hikers, and building switchbacks to allow sustainable turns on the hillside leading down to the Potomac River. The river provides a place where FWS employees can study fish populations, conduct invertebrate surveys, or just take-in the moment.
The YCC program is a federal employment program through the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program was created to give youth an opportunity to learn about public lands, accomplish needed conservation work, connect with nature, and appreciate the natural environment and its precious resources.
Although the YCC students at NCTC completed a lot of conservation work, they also received a lot of educational resources that complimented the work that was done each week. The students toured the Leetown Fish Hatchery and stayed two nights at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, where they checked federally protected flying squirrel boxes. They also learned about national parks by conducting a service project for Antietam National Battlefield and Harpers Ferry National Park. In addition, they had the opportunity to go electrofishing and learned about scientific survey methods that are used to sample fish populations.
When the YCC employment ended on August 3, students were able to leave NCTC with the knowledge, appreciation, and tools to become better conservation stewards in their communities, schools, and their world.
-- published --
August 8, 2012
-- photo credit --
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