A summer well spent
As the sun lingers longer in the sky and the sunsets draw your attention toward the mountains, consider the possibility of volunteering or working in the Rockies this summer for an organization that specializes in conservation.
Sunday, April 4, 2010 - 22:49
TRAIL TUNE-UP: The trails you hike throughout the Rockies need to be shown some love. (Photo: clements_joshua/Flickr)
I recently attended a career fair here on the CU campus in Boulder and one of the participating organizations was the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. Of course the poster board filled with pictures of people backpacking and working outdoors immediately drew my attention and I beelined for the table. The woman I spoke to exuded simple and infectious enthusiasm in her manner, recommending the job even before she began to speak of it. I had never heard of the Corps before but after getting as much information from the spokeswoman as I could and doing some research of my own I knew I had unwittingly hit a goldmine.
RMYC's motto is "linking community, education and environment through service." They are based out of Steamboat Springs, Colo., and their mission is to improve communities, the environment and the lives of youths and young adults through service projects based in the outdoors. They put these willing and motivated kids to work on public lands and open spaces; thus their benefit to humanity is two-fold. Not only are they providing a memorable and (cleverly disguised by all the fun) educational summer for teens and young adults ages 16-25, they are helping maintain and conserve the health of the environment.
There are several programs available for interested persons to become involved in. RMYC operates five Conservation Corps programs: the Regional Conservation Crew for ages 16-18; the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative for ages 18-25; the Leadership Development Crew for ages 18-25; the Continental Divide Trail Youth Corps for ages 17-25 and the Saw Crew ages 18-25. Crew projects involve building and maintaining trails, bridges and fences, performing watershed restoration projects, and improving campgrounds and parks. Hikers throughout Colorado owe a grateful tip of the hat to these people for all the quality work done on well-used trails. The saw crews mitigate beetle kill, reduce hazardous fuels and provide a safer recreational experience for users. No kidding around for these kids. The work they are doing not only gives them a greater sense of self-esteem but also fosters within them a healthy respect and love for the environment. It seems to me the last is the most valuable of all things gained through such an experience. These programs require a lot of dedication and physical labor; kids that are committed to such a venture must necessarily acquire the kind of knowledge about the environment currently so greatly sought after (see my post about the market for green jobs).
For those college-age enthusiasts it is possible to get a job leading one of these programs. Some of the many positions available include Conservation Corps Educational Mentor, Crew Leader, Field Coordinator, Project Specialist and Trail Field Manager. The job involves leading a group of up to seven members for four- or nine-week sessions in the Rocky Mountains. For those interested, visit www.rockymountainyouthcorps.org for more information on how to apply. They are still accepting applications for Summer 2010!
I am sure other such organizations exist within Colorado, I encourage everyone to search for any and all such opportunities. Imagine such a summer well spent.
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