National Wildlife Refuge System

Youth Work Crew Supports America’s Great Outdoors

Courtney Cunningham, Kamaria Mickles, David Locher (adult leader), Quinton Furman, Drake LaFleur (youth leader)

Four Detroit area teens joined on a Youth Conservation Corps crew at Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, MI, during the summer of 2012.

The Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), a federally funded youth employment program facilitated by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture,  is a significant component of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative launched by President Obama to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda.

As an agency within the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works to employ, educate and engage young people from all backgrounds in exploring, connecting with and preserving America’s natural and cultural heritage. YCC crew members also enable the Service to complete projects that may have been delayed due to a lack of funding or available staff and fulfills a significant component of the President’s priority to engage local youth in river restoration work. 

Sixteen-year-old Drake LaFleur worked with last year’s YCC crew and returned this summer as a youth leader.  Other Detroit-area crew members include 18-year-olds Kamaria Mickles and Quinton Furman and 15-year-old Courtney Cunningham.  Adult leader and Marine Corps veteran David Locher oversaw the group of youth employees as they become involved in wildlife research, trail maintenance and visitor access, environmental education and recreation. The crew built a split rail fence, cleaned up trash and debris, maintained trails, posted signs and planted trees, and banded geese. The crew also presented education programs and developed a short video about the refuge.

YCC crew members also learn about career opportunities in the conservation field, gain valuable work skills and develop lifelong friendships with other young adults from all walks of life. There are YCC opportunities.

For more about YCC and other student employment opportunities, click here.  

Credit for photos: Jamie Lanier/USFWS

Last updated: December 9, 2013