Thursday, August 28, 2014

Youth Conservation Corps - a rewarding summer job

This summer, my cousin, Yusuf, a high school student in Pennsylvania, had a great job.  He worked with the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) for 8 weeks, full-time at Valley Forge National Park.

YCC connects young people between the ages of 15 and 18 with work projects that help protect public lands in our national park system.  The Corps was founded in 1970.  Applicants are chosen by lottery, so previous park experience is not necessary.  Pay is federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher.

I asked Yusuf about his summer job:

Q:  How did you learn about the program and how did you apply?

I first learned about the program, the Youth Conservation Corps, from a friend of mine who was thinking about applying.  When I learned the name of the program, I simply did a google search on the YCC and clicked on this link 

Q: What kinds of park work would a typical day include for you?

The first half of the day would usually consist of doing invasive plant removal in various locations around the park.  However, mornings were also dedicated to repairing the various Riparian Buffers around the park's major stream.  Two other days were dedicated to assisting the maintenance team at the park by repairing and replacing all the informational signs scattered around the park.  The second half of the day was almost exclusively dedicated to removing the invasive species of crayfish from Valley Creek and tallying the number of natives species found in the same creek.  Every Friday was an "education day" or field trip.  The Park Service arranged tours of other parks, museums, an aquarium, and a canoe trip.

Q: Did you work as part of a team, usually, or on your own, or both?

Everyone worked together as part of a team, if someone started to stray from the group, our supervisor would call them back and we would resume work.

Q: What are a few highlights from your summer?

The camaraderie among the group by the end of our job was the best part of working with the YCC.  At the beginning of the job, none of us knew each other and we barely spoke, but by the end we had come up with so many inside jokes and specific memories linked to particular people in the work crew. 
​It should be noted that there is another group very much like the YCC called the Student Conservation Association.  We worked with our local branch of the SCA many times over the course of the summer.  It might also be a little easier to find an SCA group than a YCC group because the SCA is more widespread.  

So, if you are in high school and looking for a summer job that would help protect our environment and give you good job experience, consider applying to the Youth Conservation Corps.  Thanks, Yusuf! 

photos from the Valley Forge National Park flickr site 

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