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University of Wyoming students, Mike Nielson and Luke Stricker of Gillette, gained valuable leadership and outdoor skills working this summer with the Wyoming Conservation Corps.
Nielson conducted historic site restoration work and assisted park staff with a prescribed burn in Sinks Canyon State Park.
Stricker restored wetlands habitat and removed natural fuels in a Carbon County forest. In Rawlins, he installed roofing on picnic shelters and installed vinyl siding on two sheds in a park. Stricker 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, Stricker and his crew worked on trail improvements.
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.