by Julie Curtis
Youth Conservation Corps Program Coordinator
The San Juan Islands’ Youth Conservation Corps successfully concluded its 16th summer season on Aug. 20, logging nearly 5,000 hours of conservation work by 40 dedicated crew members across San Juan, Lopez, and Orcas Islands.
“We need more kids to be involved so they can learn about saving our island and our planet,” a 12-year-old crew member remarked after his final shift with YCC.
You may have seen “Trash Talkers” adorned in green shirts and gloves working to divert solid waste from the landfill at the San Juan County Fair. These were just a handful of the YCC crew members working on one of many projects this summer to conserve and protect the San Juan Islands.
With the mission of promoting a stewardship ethic among local youth and maintaining the beauty and balance of our natural island ecosystems, YCC has provided summer activities and real job experiences to hundreds of local youth since its inception on Lopez Island in 2007.
This year, the YCC crew was put to work helping seventeen local partner organizations address environmental resource needs such as trail maintenance, noxious weed removal, old-growth tree surveying, ladder fuel reduction, and much more. The full list of 2023 projects will be posted on our website at the end of September. Check out our annual reports here: https://www.sanjuanislandscd.org/ycc.
YCC is not only an excellent resource for local youth and partner agencies but for parents and families living in the San Juan Islands.
This program’s low and no-cost options, plus its holistic approach to outdoor activity and education, make it a “win-win” summertime activity.
As one parent put it, “The group of kids that were put together came from different social groups and by the end of the season, they had grown in so many ways and now have a bond to go into the new school year with. I have not witnessed such amazing leadership where there is mutual respect and appreciation for secondary students. Not sure how they did it, but the balance of appropriate boundaries and fun actually happened. There was hard work and joy, pure magic. My daughter would come home with knowledge, self-reflection, and a sense of community. I’m still marveling at how this program worked so well and how we can replicate this in other youth programming on the island.”
Crew members work closely with program staff, conservation professionals, and partner education programs on stewardship/restoration projects, inquiry-based experiential outdoor education, technical field skill building, and professional development.
Five crew leaders were hired to support this summer’s programing, bringing a rich set of skills and knowledge to daily activities.
Huge thanks to our local heroes and crew leaders, Luke Fincher, Siri Dye, Ty Greacen, Rowan Rowley, and Greison Deffer for all their hard work.
YCC’s cornerstone program operates every summer from the end of June until mid-August. Programming is also actively expanding into year-round programs to engage students in a greater variety of fall, winter, and spring stewardship work and environmental education opportunities.
If you are interested in learning more about the program, please visit our website at www.sanjuanislandscd.org/ycc or contact YCC Program Coordinators, Julie Curtis (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mike Rosekrans (email@example.com).
We’re grateful to our financial supporters: San Juan County Land Bank, Port of Orcas, San Juan County, San Juan Preservation Trust, San Juan County Solid Waste, RCO: No Child Left Inside, Lodging Tax Facilities Program (LTAC), Rotary Club of San Juan Island, as well as our supportive partners.