National Wildlife Refuge System
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Fish and Wildlife Service Hires More Youth

Members of the “Daisy Slayers,” a 2010 Youth Conservation Corps youth crew at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, pause from pulling invasives to pose for a photo. Lexxs Sutton is second from the right.
Members of the “Daisy Slayers,” a 2010 Youth Conservation Corps youth crew at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, pause from pulling invasives to pose for a photo. Lexxs Sutton is second from the right.
Credit: USFWS

Tyler Hotten, 18, a high school senior in Underwood, North Dakota, got his wish this summer: a chance to work outdoors. After two months of mowing, weed trimming, goose banding and other labor at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, he also came away with something more: an interest in a career in wildlife conservation. "If you like being outside, it's the job for you," he says.

That's just what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service likes to hear.

The Service increased youth employment more than 50 percent in fiscal year 2010, exceeding the Department of the Interior's goals. The Service hired 2,434 people ages 15 to 25 to work on national wildlife refuges and other sites — up from 1,535 in 2009 and 515 more than the 2010 target of 1,919 set by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's "Youth in the Great Outdoors" program.

New employees included 771 hired through the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC); 551 through the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and Student Career Experience Program (SCEP); and 254 through permanent and temporary positions.

Partnerships with more than 70 organizations — such as the Student Conservation Association, The Corps Network and refuge Friends groups — brought 858 young people into the Service fold. To see highlights of Service-wide accomplishments, visit the 2010 Youth Employment Report, "More Than a Job."

The jobs were varied and often physically demanding. At Baca National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado, YCC crews removed 13 miles of barbed wire fence. At Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico a youth crew improved access for visitors with disabilities. At William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, YCCers helped build a boardwalk, maintain trails, install landscaping and hand-pull invasive English ivy, tansy ragwort and oxeye daisy. "It's very labor-intensive, bending over in the heat, pulling plants up by the root," says refuge biologist Jock Beall. "The idea is not to dig or disturb the soil because that causes more seeds to germinate."

Finley Refuge YCC crew member Lexxs Sutton, 17, of Monroe, Oregon, agreed the work was hard. But, she added, "I learned a lot of things, and it was probably the most fun job I will ever have."

Read about youth hiring in the Northeast region.
See photos of YCC crews at work on refuges in the Northwest.
The Service hopes to maintain the same level of youth hiring in 2011. Learn more about youth job opportunities in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Learn more about the Department of the Interior's Youth in the Great Outdoors program.
See photos of some of the amazing young people at work on our national wildlife refuges.   

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