Youth Corps Adventures – Work and Learn in Nature

Youth Corps Adventures – Work and Learn in Nature

by Felicia Bechtoldt

October 3, 2016

Are you looking for a temporary job during the school year or a summer job? Are you looking for an educational and fun experience in nature? If you are, then apply for one of Oregon's youth corps programs.

Hundreds of youth corps programs are available each year in Oregon. Youth corps programs are paid positions. Depending on the program, corps members may be paid a modest "educational stipend" (below minimum wage), at minimum wage, or at a higher hourly wage for their service.

Summer programs are generally eight to 10 weeks long, but depending on the program they can be longer or shorter. The deadlines for summer programs are usually in spring. Most programs do not provide housing. Members must live close to the location of the program. 

This summer, Natalie completed a youth program with Northwest Youth Corps. She was a team leader for a crew of eight to 10 high school teens working in the Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge. "We cleared a lot of blackberries, an invasive species on the refuge. It helps bring back and conserve the native plants in the area," says Natalie. During the program, Natalie and her crew members learned about natural resources and the environment. They also learned about good-decision making, how to write a resume, interview for a job and how to conduct oneself professionally.

Most youth corps programs involve leadership development, job skills training and education in the field. Corps members are involved in a wide range of activities. Some examples of work that members complete are:

  • Trail maintenance
  • Fence construction
  • Campground/campsite maintenance
  • Exotic plant removal
  • Wildlife or anthropologic research assistance
  • Bridge construction
  • Environmental education planning
  • Visitor use assistance
  • Boardwalk repair
  • IT work
Many federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service employ corps members through Youth Conservation Corps during summers. During the summer of 2016, the U.S. Forest Service hired youth ages 15 to 18 in three national forests in Oregon: Fremont-Winema National Forest, Umatilla National Forest, and Willamette National Forest. Other available programs are organized by local partners of Oregon Youth Conservation Corps, Northwest Youth Corps, and Heart of Oregon.

To learn more about youth corps programs in your area, contact the organizations listed above, your school, school district, or local government entities.