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Laramie Students Work with Wyoming Conservation Corps

September 9, 2010

University of Wyoming students, Matt Carlson, Emily Erickson, Amy Freye, Caitlin Grandjean, Mia Lauenroth, Maxim Lowry, Stephanie MarShall, Will Muessig, Kirk Sheffield, Matt Wohonick and Joshua Zeeb, all of Laramie, gained valuable leadership and outdoor skills working this summer with the Wyoming Conservation Corps.

Carlson, Grandjean and Lowry restored wetlands habitat, and removed natural fuels in a forest with the Bureau of Land Management. In Seminoe State Park, Rawlins, they installed roofing on picnic shelters and vinyl siding on two sheds in the park. Their crew collaborated with the National Elk Refuge to replace a dilapidated buck and rail fence that surrounds and protects a historic homestead. In Grand Teton National Park, the crew conducted restoration efforts and trail improvement near Jenny Lake and near the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose.

Erickson and Zeeb assisted in renovating a historic site, built camping sites, and helped with fence construction around Guernsey. They also helped with campsite maintenance efforts and bark beetle mitigation in Medicine-Bow Forest.

Freye assisted in conducting historic site renovation for the National Park Service Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area. She also helped construct a new entrance sign and conducted maintenance projects on the Fort Fetterman State Historic Site.

Lauenroth conducted trail and campsite maintenance and bark beetle mitigation in the Medicine-Bow Forest Service. She also helped build and enhance a system of mountain bike trails in the Curt Gowdy State Park.

MarShall, Sheffield and Wohonick helped construct a Wind River Wilderness access trail in Boysen State Park, built trails and performed boardwalk maintenance work.

Muessig constructed a fence and corral in Hot Springs State Park and performed maintenance work near Glenrock.

They were among 48 WCC student workers who logged more than 31,000 hours of service on 36 projects completed this field season. Crews assisted resource managers with public lands management activities.

"'Leadership in public service' is the motto of the Wyoming Conservation Corps, with Wyoming's residents as the beneficiaries of the crews' hard work enhancing public lands," says Indy Burke, director of the University of Wyoming's Environment and Natural Resources program that coordinates the WCC program.

With sponsors such as UW's School of Energy Resources, as well as industry, corporate and non-profit organizations, WCC partnered with state and federal land management agencies on projects that involved students tackling a variety of outdoor leadership skills.

"Students are our future land stewards and through the WCC they can learn first hand about natural resources and energy development in Wyoming," said Mark Northam, director of UW's School of Energy Resources. "The wide assortment of projects on public lands allows them to gain the skills and field experiences necessary to pursue a career in natural resources."

Founded in 2006, this year represents WCC's fourth successful field season. The WCC relies on grant dollars to fulfill its mission and in 2010 generated $46,000 in private and foundation gifts in addition to receiving funding from AmeriCorps.

The WCC has been built on the long legacy created by the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and the Youth Conservation Corps of the 1970s. "The WCC continues this legacy by carrying out the highest caliber of service for Wyoming's public lands," said Kendall Peacock, a WCC project coordinator.

As an AmeriCorps program, WCC requires 450 to 900 volunteer hours that start in the classroom and end in the field. Members earn a monthly stipend and college credits during the academic year, receiving extensive training in leadership, civil engagement, and natural resource ethics, Peacock added.

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