National Wildlife Refuge System

Refuge Jobs for Young People


Young people
Makalah Emmanuel of Groundwork Denver's Green Team joined Interior Secy Sally Jewell to announce new funding for youth employment.
Credit: Groundwork Denver

May 22, 2014 - Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced $6.7 million in grants to support conservation employment and mentoring opportunities for young people on public lands across the country. Forty-three projects will provide more than 100 paid student jobs and at least as many volunteer opportunities. Secy. Jewell made the announcement at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Denver, one of the project sites.

This year’s grants will help build the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, a national collaboration to provide work for youth and veterans protecting and restoring outdoor sites. “The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps is built through strong public-private partnerships that not only provide employment opportunities to young adults but also provide powerful connections to nature that will last a lifetime,” said Secy. Jewell. 

“This will be a life-changing opportunity for our youth Green Team members,” said Wendy Hawthorne, executive director of Groundwork Denver which is leading the project at Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge.  “Working side-by-side with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service staff at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and in the Pike National Forest will provide these young people with the experience and inspiration to pursue careers in natural resource conservation.”

21st Century Conservation Service Corps Opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges

  • Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
    • Groundwork Denver, Inc. will provide career ladder activities for 38 urban young people, including natural resource education and such hands-on conservation work as improving bison fencing, collecting native prairie seed and removing invasive plants. One hundred volunteers will be recruited during two volunteer days as a means of engaging the local community.
  • Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge, HI
    • In 2015, three five-member crews of young people will learn the principles of natural resource stewardship through watershed restoration, surveying, planting native species and clearing invasive weeds.
  • Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, IN
    • The Ohio River Foundation will hire 21 rising high school seniors for five weeks to work on reducing erosion and runoff and protecting native fauna.
  • Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, NM
    • The Talking Talons Youth Leadership and several partner organizations will provide 560 hours of paid employment for urban and minority youth in conservation work. Crew members will monitor water quality, remove invasive vegetation and participate in community outreach events and career fairs. Volunteers will help young people produce a video of their work for distribution on social media.
  • Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, OR and CA
    • Klamath Bird Observatory will expand its internship program to include Native American, Hispanic and other underserved youth. Young people will participate in an intensive bird banding training program, including four six-month internship positions.

Department of the Interior Press Release

List of all 43 funded projects

Last updated: May 23, 2014