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85 | Work, Play, Learn, Grow: The Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) | with Mike Coonan

Mike Coonan with Yellowstone Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) on location in Yellowstone National Park, US.

Back in episode 81, we talked about Expedition Yellowstone, one of the resident learning programs offered at our first national park. Today, we’re going to learn about another one of Yellowstone’s incredible programs — the Yellowstone National Park’s Youth Conservation Corps — from the man who runs it, Mike Coonan.

Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a paid — yes, paid — student residential employment and education program in which 64 teenagers live, work, play, learn, and grow in Yellowstone National Park. They stay in the park for just over a month to work on projects that improve the park for both visitors and mother nature, and one hour is set aside each day for purposeful education, leadership activities, and career development. And this is such an impactful program that about 20% of the current YCC staff were previously students who participated in the program!

We unbox:

  1. The history of Yellowstone and the YCC

  2. Projects that students work on include: trail work, installing bear boxes in campgrounds, collecting data for social science and citizen science, painting, building fences, and other maintenance projects

  3. Why this is a paid program

  4. Engaging people in public service

  5. Leaving the program a better person and citizen



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