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North Carolina land trust group works with experts from Vermont to build a new Youth Conservation Corps.

 

 

Vermont partners with North Carolina to create a new Conservation Corps


photo of young adult trail crew

NCYCC crew at work on a section of boardwalk

 

This past summer, the 27-year old Vermont Youth Conservation Corps partnered with the Conservation Trust for North Carolina to create the newest Conservation Corps that was able to reach out and affect the lives of 18 young adults from North Carolina.

After almost three decades of empowering youth in mainly Vermont, this year the VYCC decided to branch out to a broader audience, hiring approximately 50% of the youth Corps Members from out of state, working for a couple weeks with the Forest Service in New York, and starting two brand new crews in North Carolina in the Raleigh Triangle area and in the Croatan National Forest.

The partnership between the VYCC and the CTNC is under contract for three years where the VYCC plans to send highly-trained Crew Leaders from their Headquarters in Vermont to lead and teach the local youth of North Carolina while both sides share resources and knowledge on how to build this partnership into a strong relationship that will benefit youth development and environmental conservation all along the East Coast.

photo of trail worker

North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps

 

I was one of four Crew Leaders that were asked to pioneer this new Conservation Corps in the Tar Heel State. After having been a Corps Member and leading three older (18-22 year-olds) Leadership Development Crews in my three previous seasons with the VYCC, coming to North Carolina to lead younger (aged 16-18) Corps Members was quite a change because we did not focus so heavily on leadership development skills, learning styles, and teaching techniques but more on interpersonal goals, working hard, and the basics of communication with your peers and leaders.

For me, teaching and leading these two age groups could not have been more like night and day but fundamentally showed me the importance of focusing on the youths’ strengths to help them overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

Even while covering the basics of communication and getting along with your tentmate, our crews still had to complete incredible amounts of hard physical labor. Our projects ranged from building an amphitheater stage (pictured) to trail maintenance along North Carolina’s Mountains to Sea Trail and other smaller local trails to invasive species removal along the Eno River. In the Croatan National Forest, our coastal crew worked on constructing a brand new mountain bike trail for the entire 7-week season.

I attended the University of Vermont as a Forester but chose this as my area of study only because it offered me the opportunity to be outside and teach my peers in an experiential setting. Having just graduated in May 2013, I chose to keep working for the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (only 11 weeks of employment) because it offers me an opportunity to teach in a new and exciting setting for many of the youth I lead. Combined with the hard work this Corps (and in turn the NCYCC) expects of its Crew Leaders and Corps Members and the focus on youths’ leadership development, the Youth Corps framework is possibly the best vehicle we have for getting youth outside to learn about the ecosystems they were raised in while completing high-priority conservation projects to assure the other public can enjoy these beautiful landscapes as well.

If you are in North Carolina next summer, be sure to be on the lookout for those famous green uniforms along the trails. And if you really want to give your thanks, bring a batch of cookies.

Learn more about North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps at www.ctnc.org/about/ycc/.

 

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