Small teams of young people work and learn together with the land.

The Conservation Program empowers youth to unite with their community to improve water quality, forest health, and sustainable outdoor recreation across Vermont.

Corps Members work outdoors to improve access to recreation, and make forests, wildlife habitats, and watersheds healthier. They work with stone, wood, and earth to build trails, maintain public park buildings, plant trees, and cut timber. Through training and practice, Members become familiar with hand tools and power tools like pick mattocks, rock bars, circular saws, and chainsaws.

Members gain skills, experience, and credentials in the four project areas described below.  VYCC offers a variety of crew experiences that meet each Member’s level of experience and desired challenge. Camping crews work and live outdoors together. Crews complete projects across Vermont’s parks, forests, mountains, and rivers.

VYCC crews build and maintain trails across Vermont.

From remote sections of the Appalachian Trail to town forests, VYCC crews make lasting improvements to Vermont’s outdoor recreation infrastructure and the surrounding ecosystems in every county of the state.

Trail projects reduce runoff and erosion, and increase access and user safety.

Crew Members build technical skills and gain a greater understanding of erosion and hydrology in the landscape. These skillsets transfer well into conservation and trail building professions: fields that are growing to meet rising recreational demand. The work is hard, and Members are inspired by the incalculable value of the outdoor experiences their work provides.

Projects include the building and repair of:

  • Hiking trails; universally accessible trails; mountain biking trails; multi-use trails
  • Drainage structures including waterbars, culverts, ditches
  • Wood structures including bridges, boardwalks, stairs, puncheon
  • Stone structures including stairs, turnpiking (stepping stones)

Please visit our blog for examples of the trail work we do! Preview of 2022 Trails Projects | Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (

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.

Our projects include erosion control on trails and roads, floodplain restoration, green storm water infrastructure installation and removal of invasive species.

Here are recent examples:

Removing Invasive Water Chestnut
VYCC runs crews dedicated to removing invasive Water Chestnut from shallow areas of Lake Champlain and numerous lakes and ponds in Vermont. These plants are hand pulled from kayaks to stop them from choking out native plants and upsetting healthy ecosystems.  In 2021, crews pulled over 30,000 rosettes. Partner: Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation

Erosion Control 
Crews implement Best Management Practices that reduce erosion and sediment runoff on trails, in state parks, and on private land. We build and repair culverts, check dams, and waterbars.

Floodplain Restoration
Crews plant trees in riparian buffer zones, restore wetlands, remove berms, and complete in-stream projects.

Green Storm water Infrastructure
Crews install Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) including rain gardens, infiltration steps and swales on privately and publicly managed land in urban and rural areas. We often partner with Lake Associations to install the GSI recommended in Lake Wise Assessments.

Please contact Kristen Balschunat to learn more about these projects, our partners, and how to get involved.

Vermont’s recreation landscape is filled with structures built by carpenters: kiosks, lean-tos, huts, sheds, park check-in stations, and countless composting and moldering privies. These structures are essential to the well-being of our recreation and outdoor infrastructure and help us conserve the spaces we love so deeply.

VYCC crews maintain and build these kinds of structures in Vermont’s state parks, the Green Mountain National Forest and beyond. Members become skilled at site preparation, power and hand tool use, site safety, framing, roofing, measuring, leveling, squaring, insulating, finish carpentry, and modern high-efficiency building methods.

New in 2022, VYCC is partnering with the Vermont Huts Association to construct a network of 4-season back country huts. Our first build at Grout Pond will be a highly efficient 2-story structure that sleeps 10 people, with kitchen and screened-in porch.

Please contact Stephen Cohen to learn more about these projects, our partners, and how to get involved.

In 2020 we ran our first Forest Projects crews to improves the health and resiliency of Vermont’s forests.

While improving the health of our forests, Corps Members build professional skills and gain experience toward careers in the Vermont forest products industry. Forest Project crew positions are available to young adults through AmeriCorps and Pro Crews.

Crews work with chainsaws and hand tools to complete projects including:
Tree Release
Invasive Species Removal
Firewood Harvesting
Timber Stand Improvements
Early Successional Habitat Improvements
Erosion Control

Please contact Bill Anderson to inquire about partnering or hiring a crew.

“My crew members didn’t arrive with significant trail building experience. But they knew they wanted to be there. They learned how to raise tread, how to build a retaining wall, how to build turnpikes, rock waterbars, stone staircases. They learned to use many different tools and good body mechanics.”  

— Hannah (she/her), Crew Leader