About / Mission, Values & History

A history of thriving crews and communities.

Take action and build community by working and learning together with the land.

Our program principles

Safety and Health: Foster a safe working and living environment.
Support: Have care for self and others.
Community: Create a culture of belonging.
Grit and Resiliency: Lean into challenge and learn from failure.
Accountability: Be accountable to yourself and your crew.
Professionalism: Have pride in your work and model professionalism.

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps engages young people, ages 15+, in paid service. Crews of six to eight Members and two Leaders work outdoors to complete high-priority public service projects.

Participants build skills and accumulate credits, credentials, and AmeriCorps Education Awards. These outcomes are matched with profound personal growth and a sense of belonging.

Project partners cover approximately one third of the costs to operate and support crews. Remaining revenues come from public sources investing in educational outcomes, and philanthropy.

Each year, 170 – 200 paid participants and 200 volunteers complete 80,000 hours of service across 50+ conservation projects, and distribute 70,000+ pounds of food to 420 households.

After 38 years, VYCC alumni are leaders in state and local government, businesses, nonprofit organizations, school boards and classrooms.

Young people come to VYCC to make a difference, build skills, and connect with the natural world. Join us in offering opportunities for young people to care for land, water and people; discover the healthiest version of themselves; and access multiple career pathways.

Learn more about VYCC as a non-profit 501(c)3, our fiscal health and history, including 990s and audited annual financial statements.

“VYCC was an entryway for me to have a consistent job in Vermont.” Tiffany, she/her, Food & Farm Member

“The whole experience is something that I’ll be able to take with me for the rest of my life.” – Nick, he/him, Conservation Member

“I definitely wouldn’t be going to college without the credits and help from VYCC.” Ash, she/her. Food & Farm Leader

VYCC was established in 1985 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 directed the fledgling program as a visionary leader with an unwavering commitment to young people. His belief that “today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders” guided the impact and growth of VYCC for its first 30 years.  

VYCC became a 501c3 nonprofit organization in 1992. 

In 2005, VYCC acquired and restored the historic West Monitor Barn, forest and farmland, transforming its capacity to deliver programming. In 2008, VYCC purchased the adjacent East Monitor Barn and farm buildings. Today, VYCC’s 400-acre campus allows for three-season education experiences rooted in conservation, sustainable agriculture, community service, and outdoor recreation.

  • The U.S. Forest Service recognized VYCC and its youth with a National Honor Award in 2014 and 2017. The Corps Network (umbrella association for the nation’s 130 youth corps organizations) also recognized achievements of Members and staff with a Project of the Year award in 2014 (National Life trail, Montpelier) and in 2018 (Health Care Share project). 
  • VYCC earned and maintains accreditation from The Corps Network’s Center of Excellence, and endorsement as a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.  
  • Most exciting is when Corps Members earn national recognition. Bex Love is a 2019 winner of The Corps Network’s prestigious Corps Member of the Year award. Bex described their VYCC experience in 2019 as follows: 

“I learned to see myself as a leader. I was nervous coming into a Conservation Corps program. I didn’t know if I could handle backcountry living, and hardcore trail work. As a 4’11” queer, female-bodied person, I often come up against assumptions that I can’t do certain things. Those assumptions become ingrained in the view I have of myself. I was also nervous that my crew would see me through the lens of society’s assumptions. But then I met them. We immediately celebrated each other. We found camaraderie in our mutual queerness, and began to form a small family as we built beautiful structures in the woods.  

“As I anticipated, the work was hard. We carried wet lumber up a mountain. We crushed and moved so many heavy rocks. However, I got stronger and stronger, and I was so proud to see what my body was capable of. As I got comfortable with the work, my Crew Leader saw leadership potential in me. He placed me in the role of Assistant Crew Leader, and to my surprise, I actually felt very ready to take on this challenge. With the help of my community around me, I had begun to thrive in an environment that was once scary and intimidating. The Corps experience had pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I was able to expand into a stronger version of myself.”