Our crews have helped shape lives and landscapes for more than 30 years.
Vermont Youth Conservation Corps was established in 1985 with a one-dollar appropriation from the Vermont State Legislature as a program of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. An enthusiastic outdoorswoman and organizer, Doris “Dot” Evans helped found VYCC. Thomas Hark, a former camp director with the Minnesota Conservation Corps, was hired as our Founding President to direct the fledgling program. Thomas’ leadership was instrumental as VYCC grew to be a statewide, year-round organization that is among the nation’s leading Youth Corps.
VYCC’s program model follows that of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930’s – a program in which Vermont hired young men to build ski resorts, state parks, and hiking trails. More importantly, the CCC gave young people a paying job and an appreciation for the environment, community, and teamwork at a time of widespread financial hardship.
In 1986 five Corps members completed VYCC’s first three-week service project. By 1996, Corps members were deployed statewide working on public lands and running state parks late spring through early fall. Program results were overwhelmingly positive; VYCC won the Governor’s Award on Excellence in Employment and Training in 1991. VYCC became a 501c3 nonprofit organization in 1992.
VYCC outgrew its Waterbury offices, and needed a facility to house equipment and vehicles, and a space for its residential Crew Leader training every spring. In 2005, the organization moved to the West Monitor Barn in Richmond.
VYCC’s campus sparked tremendous growth. The Conservation Program grew in size while becoming far more efficient to deliver. The organization could now enjoy land on which to offer residential Crew Leader training, complete with classroom space and a trail network to build. The High School Leadership program launched to offer an alternative year of school.
In 2012, the Farm at VYCC and Central Vermont Medical Center launched an innovative food-security project called the Health Care Share. Crews of youth produce organic vegetables and pastured poultry, and medical center partners deliver weekly shares of food to food-insecure patients.
Also between 2000 and 2015, unique partnerships created additional opportunities for young people. VYCC provided powerful professional and personal development to youth and adults that are blind or visually impaired in partnership with the state. Crews assisted with recovery from Hurricane Katrina and Tropical Storm Irene.
In 2013, the VYCC began a six-year partnership with the Conservation Trust for North Carolina to create the North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps (NCYCC). Together with AmeriCorps, the Corps Network, and 11 other youth corps, in 2014 VYCC began offering workforce development opportunities for young adults that are disengaged from work and school through the Opportunity Youth Service Initiative. In 2017, VYCC expanded its AmeriCorps offerings in partnership with SerVermont. In 2019, through the creation of a new Impact and Opportunity Fund, VYCC enhanced leadership training and education outcomes for Corps Members, helping them access employment and education opportunities after their time working and learning on a VYCC crew.
Youth can now complete a range of experiences – from three weeks to six months, residential and non-residential here in Vermont. Returners can advance to crews that teach more technical skills and/or have an enhanced Leadership Development curriculum.