by John Millsaps

Life skills, environmental stewardhip, leadership, community service, and personal responsibility. Rather than posting up on the couch or by the pool for the summer, the crews of the NCYCC are harnessing these areas of development out in the natural world. After launching in 2013 with 20 participants, this summer twice as many young people are logging countless hours in an effort to improve public access to protected lands.

The North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps is meeting the needs of older youth in our state. There are multiple nature programs for young children in North Carolina, but very few offered for teenagers and college age youth. It is important to reach this age group while they are developing their environmental ethic and making career decisions.

Crews usually live together outdoors near the project site, making the experience a unique opportunity to bond together in nature as a community. Crew members are paid minimum wage, creating a real-life work environment and attracting young people with diverse backgrounds. They contribute valuable service to their communities and learn the meaning of personal responsibility and hard, rewarding work.

The NCYCC is a win-win for everyone as crews work on projects like: trail construction and maintenance, habitat restoration, and community gardens that enhance the natural landscape and open up more conservation lands to the public.

This summer, four stellar NCYCC crews have coordinated work efforts across NC in locations such as: Carolina Beach State Park, Fort Fisher State Park, Mt. Jefferson State Park, Stone Mountain State Park, Hickory Nut Gorge, and several areas around the Triangle. Projects have ranged from protective fence construction, to trail building, and even the removal of invasive plants and trees.

Interested in finding out more? Visit the CTNC website and discover how your donation could sponsor additional crews next summer.