Service and Teamwork from an Early Age

Essays by the Youth Conservation Corps / Photos Courtesy of Fred Orkin

The Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a summer volunteer program for residents and visitors ages 12 and older.  Sponsored Spreading hayby the Lakes and Streams Committee in partnership with Eastman’s Recreation and Maintenance Departments, the mission is to introduce youth to the principles of ecology and engage them in the stewardship of our lake.

The essays on these pages are reflections from some of the 2015 Youth Conservation Corps volunteers.
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In YCC I learned how if feels to have helped create something and see it being used by people.   Now, every time I pass by the boat ramp and see the kiosk, I feel really proud to know that I built that kiosk.  Same with the beams along the path at South Cove. Just the thought of “I built that” makes me feel really accomplished.

I met a lot of good friends this year in YCC.  I met someone just like me and now we’re really good friends.  Everyone I worked with was really nice to me and I always looked forward to going to YCC.

Sara Robinson, 12, is a 6th grade student at Willow Wood Junior High in Houston, Texas.
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Youth Conservation Corps this year had hard work to help serve our community.  I was opposed to the idea of helping at first, but once I was there I had fun. From late June to the last of July, our troop of dedicated volunteers planted and transplanted many rain garden plants, crafted benches for the “dog” beach at (the boat launch), installed a dripline infiltration trench near the entrance to South Cove, and installed rain run-off beams along the path to the beach behind South Cove.

Over the course of several weeks I learned many things.  Volunteer work can actually be quite fun if you’re working with the right people.  Teamwork is the key and working incognito is highly satisfying. I learned about different butterfly, bee, and bird-friendly plants; how much water hostas need (which is a lot more than I expected) and that if everyone helps lift a heavy object it doesn’t seem as heavy.

Working together with friends for Eastman was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.  I hope to come back next year to learn and grow some more.

Sarah Austin is 14 years old and a freshman at Lebanon High School.

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Digging a trenchThis past summer, our small crew of YCC volunteers put a lot of work and sweat into South Cove and Eastman.  Through multiple projects, we tried our hardest to make the Eastman ecosystem cleaner and safer.  In addition, we spent many days in the old fire station working on two wooden benches.  Most of the YCC kids had never even touched an electric drill, so the woodworking part of the YCC taught everyone new things that will come in handy throughout our life.  Every person who joined the YCC this summer wanted one thing:  to make Eastman a better place.  And after these past six weeks, I feel that we have accomplished that.

I want to thank John Larrabee and the rest of the mentors who helped us with our projects.  I have learned a lot this summer and am looking forward to next summer!

Shaun Kronenwetter is 14 years old and is a 9th grader at Deerfield Academy.

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When I started the YCC program in late June of this year I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect.  I mean, you can make a few inferences based on the fact that the name of the program includes the word “conservation”.  Thinking back on the experience now, at the end of July, I see that we worked a wide variety of jobs, a variety that I never could have predicted a month ago.  It was an effective program; fast paced at times, but the goals were always reached.  And one more thing I feel as if I should mention: We had fun doing it.

The YCC community service program had a duration of six weeks, three hours each Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  We spent our time doing things such as digging infiltration trenches to help water run-off problems that have been present for the past several years.  We maintained rain gardens at South Cove:  watering, weeding, planting and transplanting, etc.  We even built a raised garden and planted blueberry plants in it. And yes, the blueberries tasted pretty good, too!  Our projects involved moving a LOT of dirt, mulch, and rocks, but as I sat writing in the Pavilion, I looked around and felt proud of our work.  It looks pretty darn good!

YCC is flexible and we were able to take breaks often enough to keep us working hard.  The crew was a light-hearted group.  Nobody was afraid to laugh or make a joke about something.  Personally, I would highly recommend applying for the program.  I know that if I hadn’t been doing YCC for the first half of the summer, I’d been bored, probably sitting around inside, looking for something to fill the hours.  Another plus:  YCC kept me fit with all the shovels full of dirt I moved this summer.

This is just a basic overview of YCC.  Projects will vary from summer to summer, depending on the needs.  As well as the positive effects on the Eastman Community, our projects netted close to 50 hours of community service per volunteer, which will be helpful on a college application.  In my opinion, YCC is truly a great experience!

Jaret Armstrong is 14 years old and a 9th grade student at Lebanon High School.

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This summer the Youth Conservation Corps weeded the rain gardens and buffer garden.  We also inserted beams along the Building a benchpath to the beach to prevent storm water washing away dirt and mulch into the lake.  I enjoyed building and painting the kiosk.  The kiosk replaced a bunch of signs that were all over the place.  We wanted to make that look neater.  I liked building the benches.  One bench was put down on the dog beach for people to sit on while their dogs swim.  That is just some of the things the YCC did this summer.

Kristina Austin, 12, is a 7th grade student at Lebanon Middle School.

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The Youth Conservation Corps did a variety of tasks this summer; from planting rain garden plants to building benches.  The staff was all quite flexible, as sometimes the workers would take small breaks and the staff went along with it.

The planting process was not easy, but we managed to get it all done.  We had to move hostas to a shadier spot and blueberries into sunnier spots.

The benches we created took a while to build and varnish.  It started with sanding the pieces.  Every piece, both sides.  Lots of sanding.  Then we had to put the pieces together to finally build each bench.  Then more sanding and cleaning off the sawdust and varnishing.  Drying took longer because of all the humidity.

All of the time and work spent at YCC was all worth it.  Everyone worked hard.  It was a great experience.

Reese Armstrong, 12, is a 7th grade student at Lebanon Middle School.

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