Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps

An experience of a lifetime

Each year Yellowstone Forever’s members and corporate partners help fund the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for teen enrollees and staff to live in the world’s first national park while working on important conservation projects. Without this funding, many of these teens would never have the chance to visit Yellowstone.

Program Overview

Every winter hundreds of 15-18 year olds apply for approximately 60 spots in the Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps (YCC). No previous experience in the wilderness is required, but a willingness to learn new skills and work hard is necessary. The accepted teens are split up into two month-long summer sessions.

As a work-based learning program, the primary goal of YCC is to connect youth to Yellowstone through a mix of work projects, education and fun. An average day might include the installation of new bear-proof storage boxes in Yellowstone campgrounds, followed by an educational session with a naturalist, followed by a sunset hike! Alongside the advertised benefits of education and a chance to live in Yellowstone, YCC has an extra perk — or challenge. There’s little to no service in many locations in Yellowstone National Park, and the teens must leave their phones behind. 

Read about a day in the life of a YCC crew

YCC 2022 Highlights and Accomplishments

Projects completed by the YCC are a mix of important maintenance projects, restoration projects, and social science projects. These projects are necessary and often would not be completed without the help of the YCC. In 2022 alone, the YCC:

  • Installed 104 bear-proof food storage boxes
  • Installed 50+ new boardwalk planks
  • Installed 21 interpretive panels, 11 dangerous ground panels, and 8 waysides
  • Performed 13 days of visitor use monitoring data collection
  • Conducted 9 days of community science investigation
  • Installed 7 trailhead signs and removed 2 obsolete logs
  • Cleared 3 miles of the Old Gardiner Rd.
  • Cleared 2 miles of park highway
  • and more!

“The YCC gave me the foundation for work ethics and an opportunity to see the beauty of the earth. The YCC instilled in me the value of thinking beyond myself. Without my experiences with the YCC, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.” – Past YCC participant

“The work we do lends itself to bettering us all. It takes both cooperation and compassion to be a member of a team. We have truly grown up and together at YCC.” – Past YCC participant

Funding from Yellowstone Forever’s donors allows these teens to experience an unplugged and unparalleled summer in the park. Funding needs are ongoing.

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