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California Youth Conservation Corps crews receive hands-on environmental education

CALIFORNIAMendocino National Forest hosted two Youth Conservation Corps crews during the summer of 2019. The YCC program is open to youth aged 15-18 years old to complete projects on Public Lands, to learn about environmental education and to grow as leaders. The eight-week program kicked off in June with a week of mandatory training, which included the prevention of sexual harassment, prevention of bullying, government ethics, safety, hand-held radio training, first aid and CPR.

For the next five weeks, crews worked throughout the Mendocino National Forest learning and working with the recreation, off-highway vehicles, hydrology, archaeology and botany departments. The crews were able to assist the forest with hydrology and archaeology surveys, they removed invasive plants, brushed trails, prepared campgrounds for the public, and also removed parking barriers that were burned in the Ranch Fire of 2018.

A group of teenage boys and girls stand on a trail they just brushed and maintained.
Willows Youth Conservation Corps crew brushing a trail on the Grindstone District. From left, Katee Peabody, Josh Vang, Brandon Rodriguez, Hope Rodrigues, Thania Farias and Cristian Martinez-Hernandez. Photo courtesy of Ryan Wakefield.
A teenage boy holds an obsidian point.
Crew member Josh Vang found an obsidian point during an archeology survey. Photo courtesy of Ryan Wakefield.

During the last week of July the crews traveled to Humboldt County to camp in the redwoods and learn more about the environment. For many of the crewmembers this was their very first camping experience. The crews also had the opportunity to work with a community partner in Trinidad, California. 

The young men and women’s last week of work was designed as a week of reflection, personal development and showcasing their accomplishments.

“We were very fortunate this year to have a few of the R5 Civil Rights Team from the Regional Office attend our awards ceremony,” said Natosha Mauer-Jackson, Northern California Consortium program director. “The Civil Rights Team got to see the crews’ accomplishments and leadership skills first hand. They were able to meet the parents and community partners to truly see what a positive impact this program has on the students and the community.”

The Mendocino National Forest was awarded funding from the R5-Public Services staff and the R5-Outreach Recruitment and Workforce Diversity Program to host two YCC crews during the 2019 summer season. This included two crew leaders, hired by Mobilize Green, and 11 crew members. The crew members were from Willows, Elk Creek and Hamilton City in California. 

A group of teenage boys and girls walk around burnt parking barriers near a dumpster.
Willows Youth Conservation Corps Crew loading burnt parking barriers from the Ranch Fire area. From left, Josh Vang, Cristian Martinez-Hernandez, Carlos Martinez, Brandon Rodriguez, Katee Peabody, Adolfo Garcia, Mauricio Franco and Rigoberto Valdez. Photo courtesy of Ryan Wakefield.
A large group of teenage girls and boys pose for a picture near a stream with woods all around them.
Northern California Consortium Youth Conservation Corps crews at Fern Canyon during their environmental education field trip to Humboldt County. Photo courtesy of Natosha Mauer-Jackson.
A large group of teenagers and adults stand looking at camera in a room.
Willows Youth Conservation Corps crews along with Forest Supervisor Ann Carlson and the visiting Region 5 Civil Rights Team at the Intern Awards Ceremony. Back row, from left, Ryan Wakefield, Carlos Martinez, Cristian Martinez-Hernandez, Rigoberto Valdez, Thania Farias, Katee Peabody, Adolfo Garcia, Hope Rodrigues, Ann Carlson, Gwen Bryant, Krystal Clark, Annette Delos Santos and Natosha Mauer-Jackson. Front row, from left, Javier Gutierrez, Mauricio Franco, Brandon Rodriguez and Josh Vang. Photo courtesy of Maria Garcia.