Trail building is an art and a science, and it is hard physical work that involves finding and moving very large rocks, crushing stone into coarse gravel, and building stairs, water drainage structures, and footbridges. VYCC crews build new and repair existing trails that provide safe and enjoyable user experience while protecting the area’s ecosystem and watershed. Along the way, Corps Members add industry terminology to their vocabulary: duff, gargoyle, turnpiking, puncheon, waterbar, and corridor are but a few.
Small teams of young people tackle projects that benefit Vermont’s people and land.
- Build and maintain trails,
- Improve wildlife habitat,
- Improve state park facilities, and
- Reduce erosion and improve the health of our waterways.
Corps Members work outdoors to complete high priority projects they can be proud of. They work with stone, wood, and earth to improve trails and parks, and make wildlife habitats and watersheds healthier. From pick mattocks to circular saws, members become familiar with a range of traditional and modern tools to complete technically diverse projects.
Corps Members work in teams called crews, which are typically six to eight members with two Crew Leaders.
Corps Members and Crew Leaders are paid for their work. This is a real job!
Every day, crews read and discuss an article. This education time, called WoRD (Writing, Reading, and Discussion) allows crew members to learn something new, and sparks interesting conversations. Corps Members take turns selecting articles and facilitating conversations.
Crew Leaders teach their crew the skills needed to complete each project. They meet one-on-one each week with Corps Members to discuss personal challenges, achievements, and goals. Guest speakers, workshops, and weekend outings show Corps Members something new about Vermont, the environment, and one another.
VYCC crews turn off electronic devices and learn to live on and with the land. They cook over fires and camping stoves, purify stream water, and read by the light of a headlamp. Spending time in the woods, mountains, and rivers of Vermont allows Corps Members to learn the true impact we have on our land and what we can do to enjoy and take care of our precious natural resources.
The VYCC experience helps each Corps Member see themselves as someone capable of leading a group, making a difference, and completing a project that at first might seem impossible. Discover just how strong and capable you are. No special skills are required!
Vermont’s landscape is defined by its rivers, lakes and wetlands and the quality of these waters is tied to the health of our watersheds. VYCC is part of the movement to strengthen Vermont’s resiliency by putting young people to work on watershed projects that reduce erosion, nutrient pollution and storm water runoff and thereby help prevent catastrophic flooding and harmful algal blooms. Class 4 road rehabilitation, floodplain restoration and green storm water infrastructure installation are just a few of the many types of projects that VYCC crews have completed that have a direct impact on the water quality of Vermont.
More specifically, VYCC’s watershed restoration work encompass three kinds of projects:
Crews implement Best Management Practices that reduce erosion, sedimentation and nutrient pollution; complete mapping and ground trothing; improve drainage; and reduce river-road connectivity.
Crews remove non-native invasive species, establish riparian buffers, restore wetlands, remove berms, and complete in-stream projects.
Green Storm water Infrastructure
Crews install, monitor, and maintain GSI’s (groundwater/surface water interface). Projects are in both urban and rural areas; and crews can work in conjunction with heavy machinery.
State parks need maintenance, improvements, and repairs: trails, campsites, sheds, composting toilets, and kiosks need replacing and repair over time. All projects improve the user experience and enhance park infrastructure.
Many Vermont towns offer pedestrian routes that improve safety and access. VYCC crews maintain and improve existing trails, and construct new routes. Pedestrian routes are required by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) to be universally accessible; to this end, VYCC crews attend to width, grade, and trail surface.
VYCC crews build and maintain multi-use and multi-season trails that accommodate skiing and snowshoeing, including rail-to-trail projects. In addition, crews construct and maintain mountain biking trails, which require specific structures and techniques, such as insloped turns, elevated platforms, rock gardens, and ramps.
VYCC completes projects in the Green Mountain National Forest, the Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge, and other protected areas across Vermont. Projects help restore balance to natural ecosystems, including construction and installation of bat and duck boxes, apple tree release (so that wild trees can become a reliable food source), and removal of non-native invasive plant species. Forest management includes reforestation and timber stand improvement.
Before VYCC I was only marginally aware of myself as a part of a greater natural world – cities were my life. I feel more comfortable interacting with other people, and I realized that everyone has an interesting story if you ask the right questions. VYCC has changed the way I think about being human – that we are not isolated, and that this planet is not only ours.”
— Eleanor (“Nory”)