With this being my second term as an AmeriCorps member in the VetsWork Environment program I had the privilege of being my district’s Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) crew leader for a second time this summer. From my experience last year, I’m not going to lie, I was slightly dreading the start of the summer. The responsibilities that come with being a YCC crew leader include being in charge of members that are ages 15-18. This doesn’t seem like much, but being in charge of 4 teenagers can be a handful at times. If you are not prepared mentally and physically for the challenges of being a crew leader it can easily wear you down, especially if the crew that you are in charge of is much younger than you are. The experience and lessons I learned from last year carried with me for this year and it paid off tenfold.
The 4 crew members that I recruited, interviewed, and hired were amazing. They were rock stars throughout the whole summer and I cannot say enough good things about them. The summer season came and went and the YCC crew was 100% why it flew by. I did change some of my leadership tactics from last year, but I didn’t have to change much with the 4 individuals I had the pleasure of leading. We all worked great together and got a ton of work done on the district. Our eight weeks weren’t all work with the educational requirements that are a part of the YCC program. We were able to visit some awesome educational museums to learn some local history and we learned more about various snake species that are native to the area. Overall I had a fantastic summer working with the crew as their leader, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of folks to finish the summer strong with.
Some of the projects we worked on this summer were:
– Mowing throughout the entire district on a bi-weekly basis
– Emptying trash cans across the district on a weekly basis
– Litter pick-up throughout the district on a daily basis
– Campground rehabilitation and facility maintenance on a weekly basis
– Trail maintenance: general forest and designated wilderness
– Partnered with the Chattooga Conservancy to rehabilitate native River Cane along the
Chattooga River by eradicating invasive species
– Partnered with the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) Roving Trail
Crew to construct a supportive rock wall in Ellicott Rock Wilderness
– Rehabilitating our Russell Farmstead that was severely overgrown with thick brush
– Water well survey project: bushwhacking through dense brush to find and mark wells as hazards on the district