The Great Outdoors: Central Oregon Youth Conservation Corps – Central Oregon Daily | Gmx Pharm

A jobs program that began nearly 90 years ago during President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal is still alive, providing work for young people on public lands.

The Central Oregon Youth Conservation Corps is a seasonal summer job program in partnership with the US Forest Service that hires young people for eight weeks of conservation work.

“I enjoy it very much. I like spending time outside, do new jobs, meet new people. It’s a great time,” said Hannah Rock of Bend.

As Corps members, these young people learn job skills, earn wages, and become the next generation of conservationists through projects that improve public lands and protect local communities from wildfires.

“I love it!” said Isaac Hoag of McMinnville. “Being outside. I like the radio calls. Everywhere you can hear dispatch talking to other people. It’s pretty fun.”

75 young people between the ages of 16 and 18 are working in the Youth Conservation Corps in the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests this summer.

You work 9 hours a day, four days a week. TThey get $14 an hour, about $500 a week.

“It was great. Everyone is really excited to get the job done. We’re going to be really efficient. It feels like it’s going really smoothly,” said Corinna Mokotoff, who traveled from Maryland to work in Oregon for a summer. “Everyone seems to enjoy the work.”

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“They work in public recreation areas. This can be grading or installing signage. They’re working on reducing fire fuels, which is what they’re doing right now. They work on invasive species control, migration trails and trail maintenance,” said Heart of Oregon Corps executive director Laura Handy.

The Youth Conservation Corps is an enduring tradition that dates back to the Civilian Conservation Corps, which began as an employment program during the Depression in the 1930s.

In its nine years of existence, the CCC has planted more than three billion trees and established trails and shelters in more than 800 parks across the country, helping to shape the modern national and state park systems we enjoy today .

Then as now, the program provides professional skills and experiences that help participants prepare for a professional life.

“We do everything from soft skills to work to technical skills,” said Nick Swagger, program manager. “For a lot of people, this is the first job they’ve ever had. We talk about things to pack in your lunch and how to be prepared for work every day. Down to the technical skills: How to use this particular tool. Teach them how to use the tools properly and safely.”

“I already have experience,” said Mokotoff, operating a chainsaw. “At the beginning of this position, they trained us. They gave us Forest Service S212 training that certifies us limbing and bucking. It is the first level of the sawyer certification. They continue to cut down trees. I also have experience with a chainsaw crew last season. It was saws cutting invasive trees every day.”

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“Firefighting in the wild, that’s what I want to do,” Hoag said. “My father did it. He would always come back with pictures of helicopters and planes and I was like, okay, I want to do that. This is hopefully an advantage for me over a lot of other people. Hoping that I can get this chance and continue his career.

Central Oregon Youth Conservation Corps

“I’m thinking about field science things, outside like maybe a botanist,” Rock said. “That would be really cool, or a marine biologist working out there studying stuff.”

“Once we built a fence. Built a fence around a weather tower,” said Jacob Godard of Bend. “We recently deconstructed a trail. We do a lot of it – burn piles, chop wood, stack.”

The program administrators keep in touch with the participants and offer help in finding future jobs, university places and an alumni network.

“It’s a great way to get a foot in the door. Get your name and face out and try a bunch of different jobs,” Swagger said. “A big part of this program is showing young people many positions and many career paths.”

If you are a young person looking for work or know a young person who is looking for a formative first job, contact the Heart of Oregon Corps for more information.


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