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YCC Program Grows This Year in Vieques


July 30, 2003

Maritza Colón, 787/741-2138 or 787/741-0659

Vieques youth find work at Vieques National Wildlife Refuge

Vieques, Puerto Rico: The Youth Conservation Corps, a federal program that employs young people during the summer to do conservation work, has grown quickly since it started last year in Vieques. Vieques youth who work in this program do a variety of tasks at Vieques National Wildlife Refuge.

“I am very happy that the refuge could provide more jobs this year to our hard-working youth,” said refuge manager Oscar Diaz. “The program began last year with five adolescents and a supervisor. This year, we have expanded it to 10 adolescents and a supervisor. Their tasks range from maintenance to reforestation.”

“The program also gives young people an opportunity to travel to other National Wildlife Refuges in Puerto Rico,” added refuge manager Diaz.

Generally, the group cleans beaches on Mondays and Fridays. They also paint buildings and other structures, clean facilities, and cut branches on the sides of refuge roads – including roads that provide beach access.

The supervisor of the group is José Cruz, who during the school year is a guidance counselor at the Vieques high school.

“I like to look out for the refuge and carry out the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is to conserve the natural resources that we have here in Vieques,” Cruz said. “Also, I like the fact that the young people who work with me are developing an appreciation for the beauty of their island.”

The group has two leaders, both of whom participated in the program last summer. The other eight young people were selected at random.

“We’re all friends, and I like the team work that this job involves,” said Argelis Rosario, 16, one of the group leaders. After graduating, he would like to go to college and study computers.

“I liked my experience last year with the YCC, and that’s why I came back” said Neysha Pagán, the other group leader. “I also wanted to help my parents pay for my education.”

“After graduating, I’d like to study veterinary medicine or perhaps be a teacher,” she added.

The other eight young people employed by the YCC are Victor M. Cruz Reyes, Victor M. Reyes Corcino, Abdiel Carambot Pérez, Brenda M. Guadalupe Boulogne, José Antonio Díaz Rivas, Jorge L. Mercado Castro, Ivelisse E. Fernández Cruz and Yarelis I. Spooner Guzmán. Emilio W. Colón works as a volunteer.

The YCC provides full time jobs to youths who are between 15 and 19 years old for eight weeks during the summer. The YCC pays federal or state minimum wage, which ever is greater.

Young people from all parts of the United States participate in the program. The YCC is administered by the USDA, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System that encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices, and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores national significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat, such as wetlands and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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