Yellowstone Forever

March 5, 2010

Youth Conservation Corps Has Made Its Mark in Yellowstone

YCC at work on the Shoshone Lake TrailYellowstone Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) participants, aged 15 to 18, spend the better part of each summer working on projects that help ensure Yellowstone is well cared for.  You may never have seen them in action, but if you’ve visited Yellowstone National Park any time during the past two decades, chances are you’ve experienced the results of their labors. 

The work isn’t easy.  These young people haul, climb, carry, pound, cut, build, and dig for several weeks at a time, all for the benefit of Yellowstone and those of us who visit.  Fortunately they get to do it in one of the most beautiful places on earth, while making new friends, acquiring valuable skills and knowledge, and learning about career opportunities in the National Park Service.

Here is a small sampling of the work the YCC has performed in Yellowstone:

  • Posting signs along the Park’s western boundary to alert snowmobilers that they are approaching national park backcountry areas that are closed to snow machines;
  • Repairing and rehabilitating dozens  of Yellowstone’s most beloved – and heavily used – hiking trails, including the South Rim Trail, Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, Tower Falls Trail, Daly Creek Trail, and Artist Paint Pots Trail;
  • Installing trailside “kick logs,” benches, and retaining structures to provide greater comfort and safety for thousands of daily visitors to Norris Geyser Basin, while protecting geothermal resources;
  • Building campfire and amphitheater benches at Indian Creek Campground and tent pads at Mammoth Campground;
  • Replanting native vegetation along a former segment of the Shoshone Lake Trail, which was re-routed to avoid changing, sensitive geothermal areas;
  • Staining an 80-yard fence at Boiling River Trail that keeps swimmers and soakers on the trail, and off the eroding hillsides;
  • Removing harmful, exotic plant species from the Mammoth Hot Springs area;
  • Painting bear-proof storage boxes at Tower Campground; and
  • Protecting frog habitat in the Yellowstone Lake area.

YCC members take a break at Lone Star GeyserIf you feel awed (or exhausted) just looking at examples of these teens’ accomplishments, you’re not alone. But we don’t want to leave you with the impression that the YCC is only about physical labor.

As Mary Wilson, Yellowstone's Volunteer Coordinator, explains, there's much more to it than the work projects...

"Through the YCC experience, young people not only complete work projects, but also develop their job and leadership skills, gain self-esteem, and practice self-discipline," said Wilson. 

Wilson added that participants learn first hand about environmental and conservation issues -- as well as careers -- through a wide variety of field-based activities and experiences.  For instance, each YCC group spends several hours every week attending presentations and workshops on environment-related topics.

And they don't leave Yellowstone without getting in some time to play in the great outdoors.  They also build friendships and experience Yellowstone through fun activities such as backpacking and river rafting. 

Learn more about the Yellowstone YCC>>

Find out what it's like working on a remote, backcountry trail with the YCC>>

Moose International and the million-plus men and women of the Moose fraternal organization have donated almost $3 million since 1989 to underwrite the expenses of this important and ongoing program. More than $2 million of this has been facilitated by the Yellowstone Park Foundation since the Foundation's inception in 1996. 


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