A note from Breck: “…what really warms my heart during these cold winter days is how VYCC makes me feel about our future.”

January 4, 2018 | 

Dear Friends,

Are you ready to start the year with some great news?

Crew after carrot harvestThanks to your enduring support, VYCC ended 2017 on many high notes:

  • The Farm at VYCC won the Corps Network’s Project of the year for our innovative Health Care Share program, which provides six months of food to ~450 Vermont families each year. The Corps Network is the national link between all US Youth Corps, so receiving this level of recognition is a really big deal!
  • The US Forest Service recognized VYCC with the Chief’s award for Organizational Excellence for the inclusive experience our American Sign Language crew provides young people who are Deaf and/or hard-of-hearing.
  • We enrolled 20% more Corps Members and Crew leaders in paying positions to work on Vermont trails, watersheds, and farms.
  • VYCC crews completed 25% more projects in 2017 than the year before, and built two new key partnerships: in Newport with the Bluff Farm and North Country Hospital, and with the City of Burlington.

We are proud of these high marks, but what really warms my heart during these cold winter days is how VYCC makes me feel about our future. Year after year, young people join VYCC wanting to serve, they are eager to work hard, and they are committed to making the world a better place. In a tumultuous time, Corps Members can give us a daily sense of hope and even excitement for what is to come. Please accept my open invitation to visit a crew in 2018 and to talk with young people so focused on service; these visits are always inspirational!

Hire a crewAs the new year comes into focus, we are making several program improvements. A short list includes:

  • New “Camping Lite” Crews – Historically, crews have either been camping (with a minimum of four weeks away from home) or community-based, where Corps Members return home each evening. This summer, we are going to experiment with a Monday-Friday camping model. We hope this will offer all the magic of an in-the-field crew experience and still be a comfortable option for high school students. This model will also allow us to recruit from a bit farther from home – needed in a rural state like Vermont!
  • Expanded Addison County Farm Partnerships – Our Farm Crews will expand our work beyond Bristol (where we were last fall) and work on additional Addison County farms all summer.
  • Revamped Core Curriculum for Crew Leaders – We have taken a critical look at the training we offer and determined that it can be enhanced with a more focused emphasis on leadership development. This will complement the very strong technical skills training Crew Leaders receive.
  • Strengthening Vermont’s Workforce – If you ask Vermont employers what their greatest challenge is, they all have the same answer: finding good workers. Well, creating good workers is what we do best! This summer, we will incorporate credentials and industry specific training into select crews in order to create a true pathway to a promising career.
  • VYCC Campus Capital Improvements – More and more, we are using our campus to enhance learning outcomes. There are more Corps Members living on campus at any given time, and with more crews in the field, our campus has emerged as a place to come back to and recharge between stints in the field. Modest improvements to housing, storage, and cooking facilities are slated for later this year.

In closing, I’ll issue a friendly challenge, ask for help, and share one resolution:

  1. Working and learning on a VYCC crew is the best first job one could possibly have. If there is another job out there that provides more guidance and a true sense of purpose, all while instilling values of service and thoughtful land use, I want to know about it!
  2. Do you know a young person (ages 15-24) who would be great for a VYCC crew? Some of our best Corps Members and Crew Leaders come from personal referrals. Please nudge someone you know today to apply! Positions, locations, and application details are all at VYCC.org.
  3. I resolve to share the good work of VYCC through quarterly, written updates. My hope is that these notes lead to conversations and robust exchanges of ideas. I do hope you will take the time to share your thoughts. VYCC is best-served when friends of the organization share ideas and perspectives on how we might serve young people and our local communities.

Breck KnauftThank you for your continued support of VYCC.

Warmly and with gratitude,

Breck Knauft

Executive Director

p.s. The best way to track our progress on all our work is to make sure your email is updated with us and/or on our always entertaining @theVYCC social media outlets.