Rocky Mountain Youth Corps preps for summer conservation projects in Eagle | VailDaily.com
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Rocky Mountain Youth Corps preps for summer conservation projects in Eagle

Members of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps work together on a project to remove an old barbed wire fence from an open space near Eagle in 2022. This summer, crews of young workers will embark on more conservation projects in the Eagle area.
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For three weeks this summer, young people will disconnect from technology and the modern world to embark on conservation projects in Eagle open space and nearby Bureau of Land Management land.

On Dec. 20, 2022, the town of Eagle announced that the Eagle Open Space and Trails Department was selected by Colorado Youth Corps and Great Outdoors Colorado to host an immersive summer youth conservation corps program. 

“The Town has hosted the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps for the past two years and is excited to host them again in 2023,” a release from Eagle read. “The town is thankful for those strong partnerships necessary to steward the natural resources in the Eagle area.”



Crews of youth between ages 11 and 30 will assist in the completion of backlogged stewardship and conservation projects on to-do lists for both the town and the BLM.

This year, the Eagle Rocky Mountain Youth Corps itinerary involves removing more than two miles of old barbed wire fencing in wintering big game habitat. Additionally, youth groups will promote safe wildlife crossing by maintaining over three miles of existing fencing. 

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“Maintained fences are beneficial to wildlife as they are more predictable to cross and keep cattle off open space properties,” the release read.

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps crews will also work throughout the summer to remove trash on 520 acres of federal land as well as take inventory of unsanctioned trails on 260 acres of municipal open space. Rocky Mountain Youth Corps crews will also help decommission and restore over 5 miles of unsanctioned trails.

Jay Moore, the marketing and development director at Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, said the program is as much about helping kids as it is conserving public lands.



“Our first and foremost primary goal is to help create a difference for them and for the community through giving them service opportunities, educational experiences and the most important part for many of these kids is employment,” Moore said.

The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps internships and service-learning crews provide a foot in the door in terms of education, experience, and necessary certification to eventually feed into careers with the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management or similar entities, Moore said. 

“Many parents nowadays, we’re confused about where to help our children go for a career and many children nowadays aren’t looking at college, they’re looking for alternative opportunities,” Moore said. “So, we view this as a wonderful opportunity for youth to come in and be trained on a job set that would eventually fall into a government entity.”

Moore said he goes to middle and high schools to get the word out about Rocky Mountain Youth Corps opportunities. Unlike other extracurricular programs available to youth over school breaks, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps can eventually make way for full-time employment upon graduation.

“They can literally move out of high school and go work for the government and that’s huge, a huge opportunity for youth that are either restricted by financial means, location means, or they’re just not sure what they want to do just yet and what better way to do it than get out in nature and spend time away from your phone, spend time away from the pressures of the world and work hard, earn some money and become educated,” Moore said.

Another big part of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps’ programs is that participants are not just working for the experience or certification. Moore said youth participants get paid for their time and work on conservation projects. 

“It’s a wonderful thing for them in terms of the work, the teamwork, and then most importantly, that ownership, that feeling of accomplishment whenever you get a check,” Moore said. “With our current status of employment in the country, younger kids are working because we’ve lost a lot of the workforce to other jobs or whatever, and so to give them the ability to work hard and to work with others and learn how to do that in a controlled manner, we think it’s a wonderful thing for our groups.”

Participants agree that Rocky Mountain Youth Corps provides invaluable opportunities and experiences to those involved, Moore said. Year after year, the program sees high return rates of kids wanting to get back to the work.

“The initial thing is, a lot of times, we get a lot of kids who are not interested or very knowledgeable about wildlife, you know, taking care of wildlife, taking care of the forest and even camping,” Moore said. “Most of the kids that come to us have likely never camped before.” 

The town of Eagle will host the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps this summer to complete backlogged Bureau of Land Management and Eagle Open Space and Trails Department projects.
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Introducing young people to this kind of stewardship and conservation work is important, Moore said, as it can promote a better appreciation for the surrounding world and also foster more responsible recreation and coexistence with wildlife and nature in the future. 

Without cellular reception for most of the program, youth participants are fully immersed in the work, their environment and in the relationships with those around them.

“It’s a new opportunity for the kids to get together with children of different races, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds and in a two-week period, learn to work together,” Moore said.

Participants in the youth corps are typically out working in two-week sessions. Monday through Friday, they’re out in the field. On the weekend between, participants go home for a break. Moore said that running the program through the weekend was a bit much for most of the youth participants.

“The kids will literally go out and live out in the woods and they will learn anything from cutting new trails to maintaining hiking trails,” Moore said. “We dive right into the work rather quickly though because we are contracted out by these organizations to complete a certain amount of work in each one of our work crews.”

The needs of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service are huge, Moore said. Rocky Mountain Youth Corps provides supplemental assistance to these entities that are stretched thin by backed-up projects.

In order to put on the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Eagle this summer, funding was necessary to pay and otherwise accommodate youth participants.

According to the release from the town of Eagle, the $26,025 in funds for the project were awarded by Great Outdoors Colorado, which receives a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds through the Colorado Youth Corps Association for use by accredited conservation service corps.

Outside of Eagle, the Colorado Youth Corps Association announced that 250 Colorado young people will get jobs this summer working on critical outdoor recreation and land conservation projects throughout the state thanks to a $1 million investment from Great Outdoors Colorado. The projects will enhance trails, parks, open spaces and wildlife habitat in 17 counties.

Additional local partnerships to the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps’ summer 2023 project in Eagle are the Hardscrabble Trails Coalition and the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance. 

Moore said that the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps operates across Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and even as far as the Dakotas. He said youth from all over the country are welcomed to participate in these programs, but Eagle County youth are especially encouraged to take part in the Summer 2023 Eagle Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.

For youth interested in applying to the summer Rocky Mountain Youth Corps programs, Moore said applications are available now at RockyMountainYouthCorps.org/.


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