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Youth Conservation Corps

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ACE Great Basin Ranger Corps | Great Basin National Park – Baker, NV

Since 2016, ACE Youth & Community Conservation Programs division has partnered with Great Basin National Park in Baker, NV to engage local teens (ages 15 to 18) in developing tangible professional and interpersonal skills in conservation through the Great Basin Ranger Corps program. Established in 1986, the National Park is named after the Great Basin: a collection of 90 basins located in the mountains between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountain ranges. Great Basin National Park has a lengthy cultural history, with occupation spanning over the last 12,000 years, along with an abundance and variety of natural features including desert, mountain, glacier, and cave ecosystems. The park is home to 238 bird species, 73 mammal species, 18 fish species, and over 800 plant species, among others.

Members Simon, Kara, and Kayli join Team Leadership Fellow Andrea for a crew photo at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center.

Most recently in 2019, four ACE members and one ACE Team Leadership Fellow worked within Great Basin National Park to assist in different areas, including cultural resources, visitor center services, and education & interpretation. Members often led multiple daily visitor tours through the Lehman Caves and assisted biologists in conducting biota surveys for proper humidity, air quality, and soil temperature in the caves. Along with roving the trails to provide park information to guests, the ACE Ranger Corps team took turns working in the Visitor Center, preparing inventory and answering visitor questions. 

Team Leadership Fellow Andrea assists in setting up a telescope for an Astronomy Programs event in the Park.

Several times during the 320-hour term, Ranger Corps members had the opportunity to assist biologists in monitoring nearby fish populations through electrofishing. This process involves using two electrodes to pulse a direct current through the water, temporarily stunning nearby fish in order to take measurements such as species, length, and weight. Within minutes, the fish return to their original state with no lasting harm. Electrofishing also allows for the calculation of species density, abundance, and composition in the sample area.

Member Kara holds a captured fish while on an electrofishing outing.


An Interview with Great Basin Ranger Corps Team Leadership Fellow, Andrea Wagner: Along with tours and guest interaction, Team Leadership Fellow Andrea worked specifically to help organize member outings, update the Park’s events website, set up telescopes for night time Astronomy Programs, and conduct an annual snow survey to determine water content from a core sample. She even worked with biologists and ecologists to map out a closed section of the Lehman Caves!


Q: What is your favorite part about working with Ranger Corps?


A: The most enjoyable experience for me participating in the Ranger Corps program has been the opportunity to act as a leader and mentor to the younger members. Last season when I was part of an EPIC internship I was the only ACE member in the park, and so it has been a lot of fun having others around this summer season.


Q: What have you learned during your time in Ranger Corps?


A: Being a Crew Leader for Ranger Corps has taught me the value of having and being part of a team, the importance of intentional leadership, and the incredible fun it is to work for A.C.E!


Q: Do you have any plans for after the program?


A: I hope to continue working for the National Park Service in some capacity, either in interpretation or perhaps in natural resources.

Mapping out an off-route section of the Lehman Caves.

Member Simon uses a dip net, bucket, and safety gear while assisting in fish monitoring via electrofishing.


For more information about the history of Great Basin National Park, along with current events, please visit:

Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge | Sonoran Pronghorn Boma Construction

The Phoenix Field School program, a major collaborative effort between ACE, BLM Phoenix District Office, Phoenix College, Arizona Center for Youth Resources (ACYR), and Arizona@Work, selects five students each semester to attend weekly integrative college classes and field projects, focusing on local conservation efforts.

In mid-October of 2018, the Field School crew worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge near Ajo, AZ to construct “bomas” (fenced enclosures) for threatened Sonoran pronghorn.

Due to human influence and habitat fragmentation, along with extreme drought conditions, the Sonoran pronghorn range and population has decreased dramatically in the past few decades. As a response, the USFWS began a rehabilitative captive-breeding program in 2003, using bomas to temporarily house pronghorn before transferring the animals in pairs to pre-planned areas where population growth is desired. The Cabeza Prieta NWR has also provided additional resources to support safe pronghorn population growth for decades, including multiple foraging plots and water catchments supplied by rain.

The Field School crew worked with Cabeza Prieta NWR and Arizona Game and Fish staff, along with local volunteers, to outline the fenced bomas with several layers of hanging blankets, aiming to protect the pronghorn from injury, as well as to allow for shade inside the enclosure. Each layer was intricately secured with sturdy hog rings and fencing pliers, ensuring a safe space for the animals to graze in the weeks leading up to capture.

At the end of the project, the crew was able to use a telescopic lens to view an existing boma filled with Sonoran pronghorn. A member of Arizona Game and Fish discussed how pronghorn and other wildlife can be collared and tracked using telemetry, or the automatic communication transmission of data, which assists in measuring population dynamics and redistribution efforts.


For more information on Phoenix Field School, in partnership with ACE, BLM, ACYR, and Phoenix College click here: ACE Youth and Community Programming

ACE YCC and EPIC assist NPS with a Pollinator Field Research Study at Cuyahoga Valley National Park


In summer 2017, four local high school students from Akron, Ohio participating in the six-week ACE Youth Conservation Corps program (YCC) joined ACE EPIC Intern Carlyn Mitchell at Cuyahoga Valley National Park to assist the National Park Service (NPS) with a variety of natural resource management projects there. NPS has produced a wonderful video series called the “Outside Science (Inside Parks)” initiative.This video showcases the pollinator field research study. Click here to learn more about the research taking place at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Phoenix Field School – Fish Monitoring

Phoenix Field School, an intensive 16-week program dedicated to providing opportunities for urban Phoenix youth (ages 18-24) to gain meaningful, hands-on conservation experience try completing a variety of field-based projects and  trainings, is a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management, Phoenix District Office, American Conservation Experience (ACE), Phoenix College and Arizona Call-a-Teen Youth Resources.

The students worked at Agua Fria National Monument learning fish monitoring. They were led by Wildlife Biologist, Paul Sitzmann.

Oak Creek Canyon – Sedona, AZ – A.B. Young Trail – Trail Maintenance

A blue ribbon is tied to the fence on the corner of West Clay Avenue, Flagstaff March 22nd, 2017.

Late March our ACE Arizona crews continued trail maintenance in Sedona, AZ in Oak Creek Canyon. The crew was working with the Red Rocks Ranger District branch of the US Forest Service. The crew that was lead by senior crew leader John Donovan was working on the A.B Young Trail. The trail was reconstructed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps under the supervision of A.B. Young. “The trail was once a cattle trail that was used to transport produce up to the main wagon roads”, explained John Donovan.

ACE crew member is using a McCloed to widen an existing trail.

The goal of this project was general trail maintenance. The crew was primarily brushing the trail. They also spent time building a small retaining wall and they cleared debris to provide proper trail drainage. 


ACE has been working with the Red Rocks Ranger District since the beginning of the year and our corps members are very fortunate to be apart of the conservation efforts of the area. This is the first of two projects that will be working on the AB Young trail.


Summer in the Smokies

21 High School Interns have just completed their summer internships with ACE in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).

In a series of blog posts, the GSMNP summer interns describe the program and their experiences:

The GSMNP Summer Internship Program is funded by both the Youth Partnership Program and Friends of the Smokies (FOTS). FOTS has supported the program for 16 years, initially providing the salaries for the interns and now funding the program staff salaries.

The program is designed to give the interns a little taste of a variety of activities that rangers are involved with – from fisheries science to botany to forest and stream ecology. The interns gain an understanding of how the park is managed and are introduced to possible career opportunities.

The Youth Conservation Corps

ACE Arizona is currently hosting Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) crews out of its Flagstaff office. YCC is a summer employment program for young adults aged 15 to 18. The program encourages youth from all backgrounds to work and learn together by completing projects to help protect public lands. The program provides youth the opportunity to work alongside government employees with the National Park Service and the Forest Service.

YCC training

YCC training

An ACE crew leader supervises and motivates the YCC group throughout the project. This past week we had two different groups of YCC volunteers – one was working in Navajo National Monument just south of the Utah border, and the other at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in Flagstaff.

YCC @ Sunset Crater

YCC @ Sunset Crater

The crew at Navajo National monument was doing a variety of work to assist Park Service employees, including building picnic tables and maintaining a popular, scenic trail in a backcountry area of the park. “It’s been a lot of fun working with these guys because they work really hard and each bring something different and positive to the group” explained crew leader Allie Devor while helping her crew to clean drains along the Keet Seel trail in Navajo National Monument. The crew is made up of local high school students who all live outside the monument on the Navajo Reservation. “I learn something new every day from this group, from hearing about their culture to problem solving about work on a project” she said.

YCC crew at work @Navajo National Monument

YCC crew at work @Navajo National Monument

The second YCC crew was maintaining a new trail in Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and also assisting Park Service employees with a high line rigging system in Walnut Canyon National Monument. Both teens in the crew had worked for YCC in the summer of 2014 and returned again this year. “I wanted to do YCC again because I really like this kind of work. It gets me out of the house,” laughed Tori Cibitello, while taking a break from repairing the out slope of the new trail in Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. “It’s cool to make something that lasts—I can come back in the future and say, “I did this!”

YCC Crew working @Sunset Crater National Monument

YCC Crew working @Sunset Crater National Monument

The YCC program is imperative for several reasons; it helps to involve kids in meaningful, engaging conservation projects that benefit their community as well as the environment, and it gives young adults the chance to start building their work experience to prepare for a job in the future.