Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region

Youth Conservation Corps at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge offers summer employment in the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program for youths aged 15 through 18 as YCC Crew Members and for men and women as the YCC Crew Leader.

The YCC program is designed to employ high school youth as YCC Crew Members who work, learn, and earn income together by doing natural resource related projects to further the development and maintenance of natural resources. Additionally, the YCC program prepares youths for the ultimate responsibility of maintaining and managing natural resources.

The YCC Crew Leader not only leads the crew, but provides guidance and related social services work to a crew of 4 – 6 members. This involves group leadership and giving practical guidance on day-to-day activities that involve training or employment opportunities. The YCC Crew Leader is responsible for supervising the YCC Crew Members on assigned work projects related to a wide variety of land resource improvement and maintenance projects.

The 2006 YCC crew putting in a new railroad tie as part of a new fence on the refuge

2006 YCC crew puts in a post for a new fence on the refuge.


The YCC program has had a vast variety of projects over the past years ranging from replacing Malheur National Wildlife Refuge signs to fishing for Carp and Redband Trout for population study. Each year brings a unique set of assignments to the crew making the experience enjoyable, as well as rewarding. YCC Crew Members learn the importance of working together, responsibility, dedication, and have plenty of tasks to keep them busy.

Well its work, so won’t it be hard and boring? YCC Members do have enough to keep them busy throughout the summer, but the effort they put in benefits them and their surroundings in many ways. It betters them as people and reflects back to the community what their goal is and how they reach it.

2008 YCC crew in mosquito protective clothing

2008 YCC crew ready to work in mosquito protective clothing

Past crews have achieved many things and made a big difference in what has been done. Crews have painted buildings around the Refuge; fished the Blitzen River to assist biologists in species population studies; lawn maintenance; repaired and made new trails; hiked the Steen’s Mountains to learn more about the wildlife; built and tore out fence; cleaned ponds and streams; built bird houses and other things for nature; assisted with fish and bird counts to help with habitat monitoring; and sometimes crews even get to swim and take rides on an airboat!

YCC crew takes an airboat ride on Malheur Lake

2007 YCC crew takes a ride on an airboat

YCC is also a learning experience where the crew becomes more knowledgeable and aware of nature and ways to help. Hands on learning teaches the crew about common plants and animals in the area and what type of conflicts and assignments go on every day at the Refuge that assist in making a strong difference in a good way. Crew’s maintain a positive attitude knowing they are making a constructive change, here is what some have had to say about YCC:

“No two years will be exactly alike, but this year we took down fence, mowed lawns, painted, maintained trails, replace signs and generally did a lot of maintenance work. We did do some fun things too, like conducted bird surveys with airboats on Malheur Lake, fishing and accessing restricted areas to complete a biological project. We also mined sunstones and visited the High Desert Museum.”

2006 YCC crew repairing picnic tables

2006 YCC crew repairing picnic tables

“I would recommend YCC if you are a hard working, adventurous individual who doesn’t mind getting a little sweaty. Also, if you keep up a positive attitude, YCC will be a blast.”
“I was surprised by the diversity and number of birds on the refuge. I learned wildlife comes first on the refuge and how projects are managed and how the refuge employees deals with management problems.”
“My biggest challenge was waking up early, fighting the heat, weed eating, pulling weeds and taking down fence. However, my rewarding experience was that I learned a lot that will help me apply for other jobs. I also met a lot of people.”
“YCC rocks! I enjoyed working on a variety of projects and participating in fun activities.”

2007 YCC crew swimming in a pond on the Steens Mountains

2007 YCC crew swimming on the Steens Mountains

Last updated: July 27, 2010