The 2021 Youth Conservation Program is off to a great start, and the returning and new team members got right to work. During the first week of YCP, participants spent time getting acquainted with their new leaders and fellow crew members. They underwent introductory training with the NPS and took part in team building exercises before hitting the trail with tools in hand. That’s when the challenging work began!
The crew improved drainage structures around Taggart Lake, used loppers and pole-saws to clear overgrown brush along the Death Canyon Trail, and maintained two miles of drains along the Glade Creek Trail in the remote northern section of Grand Teton. They also underwent Wilderness First Aid training where they practiced backcountry medical scenarios and emergency procedures.
During the second week, YCP joined forces with the NPS trail crew to complete an approach for a new bridge on the Taggart Lake Trail. The team managed heavy lifting and transported material—including large building rocks, crush rock, and fill dirt—to the worksite. The YCP crew leaders ran participants through safety meetings on best practices and the crew had a successful couple of days learning what trail work is all about.
Other highlights during week two included a special training with local organization Teton Adaptive Sports and an official from Rocky Mountain National Park who informed the crew on new trail building techniques to allow access for park visitors with mobility challenges. YCP members even got to try some of the new mobility devices. YCP students also spent an afternoon with former YCP leader Elizabeth Koutrelakos who taught them how to be aware of themselves and their coworkers in the wilderness and how to effectively communicate and work with one another.
The week was topped off with a meet and greet at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center where current YCP members had the opportunity to meet with Foundation and NPS staff and YCP alumni to celebrate the fifteen-year anniversary of the program. There were many smiles and laughs and plenty of ice cream. Crew members were asked about what they liked the most so far about YCP and answers included watching how quickly their teamwork has grown and the great feeling of seeing a project come together.
We are happy to see the crew coming together and already performing at such an incredible level—we look forward to watching their experience unfold this season. Thank you to all of our supporters and NPS staff who make this program so successful year after year!