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KODIAK: Inaugural Season of Youth Conservation Corps is a Resounding Success
Alaska Region, September 4, 2009
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Bill Leacock, KNWR Wildlife Biologist, explains to the YCC interns (Allie Bateman, Marjourie Solano, and Grady Pengilly) and other KNWR staff (Lee Arnold and Kristin Donaldson) how bears are tracked and the varoius signs to look for.
Bill Leacock, KNWR Wildlife Biologist, explains to the YCC interns (Allie Bateman, Marjourie Solano, and Grady Pengilly) and other KNWR staff (Lee Arnold and Kristin Donaldson) how bears are tracked and the varoius signs to look for. - Photo Credit: n/a
Erin Whipple, Koniag's Lands and Resource Project Director, shows the YCC interns (Allie Bateman, Marjourie Solano, and Grady Pengilly) and KNWR staff (Brain Glaspell and Kristin Donaldson) how to construct trail with Geoblock.
Erin Whipple, Koniag's Lands and Resource Project Director, shows the YCC interns (Allie Bateman, Marjourie Solano, and Grady Pengilly) and KNWR staff (Brain Glaspell and Kristin Donaldson) how to construct trail with Geoblock. - Photo Credit: n/a

This summer, for the first time in memory, the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge initiated a Youth Conservation Corps program.  The Youth Conservation Corps or YCC program is a summer employment program targeting 14 to 17 year old men and women. The program integrates working, earning, and learning by doing projects that further the conservation of the nation’s natural resources.  This year, three Kodiak High School students took part in the program, by greeting hundreds of cruise ship passengers at the Refuge Visitor Center and spending three weeks working on the Refuge.

 

Program director Kristin Donaldson had high praise for the program. “In essence, the YCC program hopes to capture the idealism of youth and create an environment where such idealism can be put into practice.  Our goal was to get local high school students to understand more about the Refuge and to share that with visitors.  Their first hand experience on the Refuge helped them share much more effectively with Kodiak visitors.”  The inaugural season was a resounding success. 

 

Youth Conservation Corps promotes the values of personal responsibility, hard work, education, and respect for the environment.  Through the performance of important conservation work, young people expand their job and leadership skills and develop personal values, ethics, and an awareness of social, political, and environmental issues. 

 

YCC’s first refuge trip was to Camp Island on Karluk Lake where they shadowed bear researchers collecting GPS points and analyzing the bears’ feeding and sleeping behaviors.  They also assisted Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists with water quality sampling and mapping the depths of the lake. 

 

In July, the YCC interns traveled to the Portage site on the Karluk River to assemble plastic Geoblock matting.  The matting is used to reinforce the trail between Larsen Bay and the Karluk River to avoid damage from ATVs in the spongy ground. The YCC crew laid around 500 feet in two days. 

 

In their last trip of the summer, the YCC interns worked on a public use cabin at Deadman Bay.  Here they converted the heating system from wood to oil, painted the cabin, stained the deck, put in a gravel path, and created a cement patio.  Here they were visited by Tom Strickland, Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior, who was interested in the Refuge education programs and saw first-hand the young interns at work.

 

Donaldson said that the Refuge looks forward to making this program a continued success.  “In the past most of the Refuge’s efforts have been geared toward grades K-6.  However, it is critical that high school youth are better exposed to the natural environment around them.  And what better way than getting them out on the Refuge so they can understand what opportunities are available in natural resource careers.”


Contact Info: Kristin Donaldson, 907-487-0283, kristin_donaldson@fws.gov



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