Area Youth Make a Big Impact at Jordan River National Fish Hatchery!
BY ROGER GORDON, JORDAN RIVER NFH
Any high school student who has faced the daunting prospect of trying to find a summer job in rural America can attest to the difficulty this problem presents. Factors such as number of jobs, distance to opportunities, and competition from the adult work force all hamper temporary employment chances for today’s youth. One long established way the federal government has assisted young workers with temporary summer employment has been through the Youth Conservation Corps Program (YCC). Created in 1970 as a vehicle to introduce young Americans to conservation opportunities on federally managed lands, this program has employed tens of thousands of the nation’s youth on Department of Interior and Agriculture managed lands. Within the Midwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the program has 127 youth enrolled at 34 field stations for 2014. This diverse program included projects on National Wildlife Refuges, Waterfowl Management Districts, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices, and National Fish Hatcheries.
The YCC program at Jordan River National Fish Hatchery (NFH) draws students from several local communities in northwestern Michigan. Funding for the program has been consistent for the past several years with 15 area high school age students being employed on the project since 2010. Emphasis of the program at Jordan River has been on the development of team building skills while in the pursuit of tangible on the ground projects for the students. The hatchery strives to identify tasks or assignments that require participation of all YCC enrollee’s to complete. This ensures that all students get an opportunity to work side by side with other young people from diverse backgrounds towards the completion of a common goal. Projects such as trail creation or maintenance, fence deconstruction/construction, river clean-up projects, or general hatchery maintenance all require multiple hands to get the job done successfully.
Over the years the Jordan River NFH has benefitted greatly from the contributions of the Youth Conservation Corps. Many projects such as the completion of nearly one mile of visitor walking trails, thousands of feet of split rail fencing, and a 10,000 square foot pollinator garden simply would never have been possible without the energy of youth. In addition to the many projects completed by these exuberant kids the staff has enjoyed seeing the world through the lens of youth anew every summer season.
For more information about the YCC program at Jordan River NFH, or volunteer opportunities please contact Roger Gordon, Hatchery Manager at 231-584-2461, firstname.lastname@example.org.