What we do

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

Conservation Program

In the Conservation Program, youth and young adults complete important projects across the state. Their impact includes improving water quality, forest health, and sustainable outdoor recreation.

Food & Farm Program

In the Food & Farm Program, youth and young adults grow and harvest organic vegetables to address the complex issues of food insecurity, diet-related illness, sustainable agriculture, and responsible land use.

Across programs, Corps Members work and learn with the land. They gain durable skills and technical skills. They work directly in and with local communities.    

VYCC projects happen with partners. Learn how to become a partner – and hire a crew – by contacting the staff listed in each section below.

Conservation Program

Complete projects and build skills in trail building, carpentry, water quality, and forest health.

Members gain skills, experience, and credentials in the four project areas described below.  VYCC offers a variety of crews structured to meet each Member’s skill sets and desired challenge. 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, crews make lasting improvements to Vermont’s outdoor recreation infrastructure and the surrounding ecosystems in every county of the state. 

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 and stepping stones

Please contact Conservation Trails Project Manager Kevin Wood to inquire about partnering or hiring a crew.

Vermont’s landscape is defined by its rivers, lakes and wetlands. 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 engaging crews on projects that reduce erosion, nutrient pollution and storm water runoff and thereby help prevent harmful algal bloom s and aim to restore balance in freshwater ecosystems.

Projects include erosion control on trails and roads, floodplain restoration, green stormwater infrastructure installation,

  • Managing Invasive Water Chestnut:

Kayaking crews remove water chestnut plants by hand from Lake Champlain and its tributaries to improve habitat for native plants and animals. In 2022, crews pulled over 54,000 rosettes.

  • Floodplain Restoration:

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

  • Reducing Erosion:

Crews implement Best Management Practices that reduce sediment runoff on trails, in state parks, and on conserved land. We build and repair check dams (above-ground structures that slow the flow of water), and waterbars (a channel in a trail to allow water to drain).

  • Green Stormwater Infrastructure:

Crews install 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 Water Quality Projects Manager Kristen Balschunat to inquire about partnering or hiring a crew. 

See specific project examples here: Featured Projects 

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 Vermont’s outdoor recreation infrastructure and help us conserve the spaces we love so deeply.  

Crews maintain and build these kinds of structures in Vermont’s state parks, the Green Mountain National Forest, on VYCC’s campus, and in Vermont communities.

Members can develop skills in:

  • Site preparation and worksite safety  
  • Power and hand tool use  
  • Carpentry basics: measuring, leveling, and squaring  
  • Framing, siding, roofing, rot repair, finish work, and painting  
  • Modern high-efficiency building methods including air sealing, insulation and window and door installation 

VYCC partners with the Vermont Huts Association to construct four-season backcountry huts. Our first build at Grout Pond is a highly efficient two-story structure that sleeps 10 people, with kitchen and screened-in porch.  

Please contact Build Projects Manager Stephen Cohen to inquire about partnering or hiring a crew. 

See specific project examples here: Featured Projects

While improving the health of our forests, Corps Members build professional skills and gain experience toward careers in the Vermont forest products industry. After completing Game Of Logging training and certification, crews work with chainsaws and hand tools to complete projects including:

  • Invasive species removal: Corps Members use their hands, tools, and direct chemical application to control invasive species like buckthorn and barberry. These projects improve wildlife habitat and support biodiversity. 
  • Reforestation & Erosion Control: Crews plant trees in deforested areas and install water bars (diagonal ridges or channels) for erosion control.
  • Tree felling: Crews operate chainsaws to thin trees and improve habitats, sustainably harvest timber, and remove trees that are hazardous to recreationists.

Please contact Forest Health Projects Manager Bill Anderson to inquire about partnering or hiring a crew. 

See specific project examples here: Featured Projects

Food & Farm Program

Work on an organic farm to build skills and improve community health.

Young people engage in farming on our historic 400-acre campus in Richmond Vermont. We grow 11 acres of organically certified vegetables and raise chickens on pasture for meat and eggs. Most of the food we grow is shared with the community through the Health Care Share (see below). 

Food and Farm Corps Members spend their days building connections between land, food and communities. They grow certified organic vegetables, raise chickens on pasture, and prepare farm-fresh meals from scratch.  Along the way, Corps Members learn how to care for crops, soil and animals; to use a variety of tools and farming techniques; and work together to support healthy communities.

After Corps Members grow the food from the land, they learn to transform the harvest into nourishing meals. They participate in preparing and sharing food, which deepens their connection between work in the field and the food on our plates. Members take turns in VYCC’s commercial kitchen making a farm-fresh lunch from scratch that is shared with all Food & Farm Members.

See an example of this work in action.

The Health Care Share (HCS) connects more than 400 Vermont families with fresh, local food through their health care provider.   

This nationally recognized public health initiative began in 2012. Health care providers refer Vermont families experiencing barriers to accessing locally grown produce, and/or who have a diet-related illness. 

Each week, participating families pick up a bag full of freshly harvested, certified organic produce at their health care provider’s office. Shares sometimes include eggs and chicken from the farm or have local products like cheese or flour. The program lasts 12 to 17 weeks, depending on the partner.  

Participating in the Health Care Share supports paid jobs and significant learning for youth and young adults. There is no cost to participate. The program is funded by medical centers, farm stand sales, sponsoring businesses, and philanthropy.  

Contact Community Health Program Manager Lily Bradburn to learn how to bring the Health Care Share to your community.  

Participating providers

  • Abenaki Helping Abenaki 
  • Central Vermont Medical Center, Berlin 
  • Community Health Centers of Burlington 
  • Gifford Medical Center 
  • North Country Hospital 
  • Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital 
  • Plainfield Health Center 
  • Richmond Family Medicine 
  • SASH – Barre Housing Authority 
  • Second Spring 
  • VA clinic in Newport 
  • VA clinic in Littleton NH 
  • You First 

Featured projects