Youth Conservation Corps Provides Critical Support to National Wildlife Refuge Operations
“I enjoyed every aspect of this summer and the [YCC] program and would not trade it for any other job!” says Mallory Walker who worked as a Youth Conservation Corps leader at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.
Great Dismal Swamp is one of many refuges around the Northeast Region that employed young people to work as part of the YCC program. This highly energetic and motivated group of young people provided critical support to many management aspects of the refuge including wildlife biology, visitor services, maintenance and administrative functions. In addition, the group assisted with projects at nearby property owned by The Nature Conservancy (TNC).
Examples of work performed by this group of seven (two leaders and five crew members) included: clearing refuge trails, clearing and painting refuge gates and bridge, weekly landscaping and clearing of public areas, cleaning and surveying wood duck boxes, installing a culvert in refuge road, posting boundary signs at Nansemond NWR, preparing hunt program handouts, constructing a new Underground Railroad boardwalk, installing benches on Washington Ditch Boardwalk Trail, and maintaining and cleaning water control structures.
While participating in the YCC program students are exposed to many educational aspects of natural resource management; another highlight to Mallory’s experience “It was a truly eye-opening experience and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work at the Swamp. I learned a lot, not only about myself but about the Swamp itself.” Students learned about managing conservation land, electro-shocking survey of fish in Lake Drummond, bird banding, refuge law enforcement issues, hydrology and forest management.
The program benefits both the students and the employees at the Refuge. It also provides students such as Mallory a taste of possible career opportunities upon graduating from school. To learn how you can participate in a YCC program contact your local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office.