June 15, 2011
Yellowstone Youth Facility Gets a Facelift
Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) staff and enrollees complete many important projects in the park each summer, but the YCC facilities -- mess hall and dorm -- were both showing the wear and tear of 35 years of use. The park decided it was time to spruce up the facility for the youth and program staff.
Yellowstone’s YCC program is a residential camp running from mid-June through mid-August for youth ages 15 – 18. The program emphasizes work ethics, introduces participants to the spectrum of National Park Service opportunities, supports environmental awareness, and promotes recreational activities that encourage participants to build lifelong healthy habits.
While the YCC program—one of only two residential work programs for youth in the National Park System—has been generously funded by Moose International and other donors, there have not been federal funds available for basic improvements to the YCC facility.
The carpet was threadbare, torn, and posed a tripping hazard. Several spots had been duct taped to prevent accidents, resulting in a battered appearance that was almost impossible to keep clean. The carpet was originally installed as large, rolled sections, and damaged areas could not be easily repaired or replaced.
The Yellowstone Park Foundation recently awarded a grant, through the Tomorrow’s Stewards Initiative, for YCC facility upgrades. The challenge: make low-cost but high-impact improvements to the facility, stick to a $26,500 budget, and get it all done before the youth arrive for the 2011 summer!
Staff from Yellowstone’s Division of Maintenance performed all the work on the project in order to keep costs low and efficiency high. They applied a fresh coat of paint in the mess hall, and carpet squares -- a more practical type of floor covering that can be individually replaced -- were installed in the Mess Hall.
Previously, YCC seasonal program staff had no walled space in which to make phone calls or conduct other business. This grant also provided funds for the creation of a small, enclosed office next to the Mess Hall.
The grant also covered the costs of five key staff members reporting two weeks early to get the facilities open and to install new equipment in the mess hall and dorm before the first session began.
The structures that comprise the YCC campus will need major repairs and rehabilitation over the coming years, such as new roofs, insulation, modern bathrooms, and an updated kitchen. But meanwhile, these smaller improvements are significantly enhancing the facility's basic functions and appearance. They will also, hopefully, better represent how much this program, and its staff and participants, are valued.
The work was finished in time for the start of the 2011 summer program, and the first session of 20 YCC participants and six youth leaders arrived this past Sunday. They will spend one month completing numerous conservation and rehabilitation projects in the park, while learning about land stewardship, leadership, and teamwork.