Excel as a High-Performing Agency

Conservation-minded teens tune out technology, improve public lands

Heavy machinery was used by the Backcountry Horsemen of America to repair rougher sections of the equestrian trails on the Uwharrie National Forest where NCYCC team members worked. Forest Service photo by Jennifer Greig.

NORTH CAROLINA — Six teens joined the North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps and willingly gave up their cell phones for six weeks to do trail maintenance work on the Uwharrie National Forest.

They used shovels and wheelbarrows to move piles of gravel, they improved drainage and they reinforced trails at the Badin Lake Recreation Area; working in hot, humid conditions. Camping out and cooking their own food were also part of the gig.

Two team leaders from the NCYCC, who supervised the teens, said this was their first work experience improving public lands and restoring equestrian trails.

The crew said it was nice to be away from distractions and do meaningful work in the forest--an opportunity that most youth don’t know about but can leave a long-lasting appreciation for public lands.

The NCYCC has been restoring and improving public lands for four years now, in partnership with Backcountry Horsemen of America and the Uwharrie National Forest.

“I truly appreciate the work that our partners and volunteers provide for us across the forest,” District Recreation Staff Supervisor Theresa Stevens Savery said. “They contribute so much to keep our trails and recreation sites open.”

A NCYCC crew repairs trails on the Uwharrie National Forest during their summer of work on public lands. Forest Service photo by Jennifer Greig.

Crew leader Shayden Joe shovels gravel from a wheelbarrow to improve horse trails on the Uwharrie National Forest. Forest Service photo by Jennifer Greig.