- August 24, 2016
- Posted by Samantha Mckeachnie
In the Swan Valley up a dirt road, with no cell service and not another human soul in sight. The pointed mountain peaks still holding their snow and whitetail deer poking their heads out into the morning light. This is a common work environment for the crews of MCC.
This particular morning I was heading into the Mission Mountains to meet a couple of our Youth Conservation Corps crews that are based out of the Flathead Valley. We would be doing culvert monitoring on an old Forest Service road long overgrown and riddled with bright yellow wildflowers.
After arriving at the trailhead the leaders went through our preparation checklist:
-Tools: Pulaskis, GPS Unit, Tape Measure, Silky Saw
-PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
-Forest Service Radio
-Water & Food
All set. Crew Leader Misty laid out the map and pointed to our location for the members to see. She established an escape route in case of an emergency. We discussed the work we would be doing for the day and brought attention to potential safety hazards, the health of our MCCers being of greatest importance.
As we spent our day working up the road I watched the leaders train and support their members in various skills required by the job. GPS mapping, teamwork, time management, tool use, wildlife safety, map reading, etc. And in addition we tested our knowledge in identifying trees, invasive species, and nearby mountain ranges.
At 16 & 17 years of age these YCC members were being introduced to and strengthening many of the job skills they would need to continue in a career in conservation, natural resource and land management, and/or forestry. The experience provided for our youth members is unlike any other job in which the average teenager may find themselves. Imagine the worth of a summer spent making daily trips into the Montana wild learning how to be part of a team, working toward relevant and valuable results for local communities, and gaining marketable knowledge and skills before even completing high school. And all the while you receive a paycheck.
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