Tag Archives: Youth Conservation Corps

Inspiring Others Through Art

Today we’re hearing from Logan Sauer, a University of Maine student and former Youth Conservation Corps intern at Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Virginia. Logan shares his love for the outdoors with others through his artwork and culinary skills, and his story is one you won’t soon forget.

Logan is making waves, and certainly enjoying them while studying abroad in Australia. His experience with YCC has influenced his major and his daily life, while his artwork continues to inspire ours. When Logan gifted Potomac River NWR Complex his beautiful painting of native wildlife, it was too good not to share with everyone! We’ve asked him a few questions about his art, his time with YCC, and his connection to the natural world.

What do you enjoy doing most in the outdoors and why?

“I enjoy hiking, creating art, being with family and friends, and traveling. I enjoy hiking because it takes me to places I’ve never been and especially somewhere to escape all the noise. Hiking is a great time to think a lot of things over and it can also provide a place to not think at all and just embrace the beauty of the natural world.

“Whenever I am home for break I always visit the refuge. How could I not? The refuge staff gave me a priceless experience and I felt the need to give back. During the spring semester of my sophomore year I had the idea of creating a painting for the refuge. My initial idea was to create a painting that showcased one major animal from different refuges all across the country, but I felt that this painting needed to be more personal, so I came up with the idea of painting the major fauna that are found within the Potomac River NWR Complex.”

What inspires your art and what is your favorite medium?

“I’ve been interested in art ever since I was little and my artwork developed over time through a variety of mediums.  In grades 6-12 I was more interested in using pencils and I would never want to use any other medium. In grade 10 I got my first set of Prismacolor pencils, which are better at blending seamlessly and that is when my artwork started to transform. Animals and landscapes really inspire me. The natural beauty that we are surrounded by is unlike anything that can be replicated in our world of technology.

“Also, watching the Food Network might have influenced my artistic talents. My mother and I enjoyed watching baking shows together and over time I developed a love for baking.  Baking and cooking and creating art are awesome stress relievers for me. I often stress bake at school before an assignment is due. Both activities require patience and attention to detail which brings me to a calm state of mind. ”

Do you think Youth Conservation Corps has helped shape you or your academic or career choices or strengthened your relationship with the outdoors?

“I definitely think that YCC brought me closer to the outdoors. For most of the day our crew was outside completing our assigned tasks. One thing that our crew was interested in was species identification. We identified many plants, fungi, insects, reptiles, and birds. We even had a Facebook page dedicated to the work we had done on the refuge and the flora/fauna we identified along the way. Knowing what surrounds you in nature feels rewarding instead of just walking down a trail and passing all these amazing organisms.”

What would you tell someone who is interested in trying YCC?

“For anyone interested in trying YCC I would say go for it! I must warn you that not all YCC programs are the same. It was my coworkers and the refuge employees that made my experience enjoyable and worth every minute. I would say go in with an open mind just as with anything in life and try to make the most out of the time while being a part of YCC.

I want to work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Park Service in the future. I want to do what I love while I search for the perfect workplace family and can recognize that I am happy and that I am in the right place. Only a few places that I have worked have I actually enjoyed but nothing comes close to being in the YCC at the Potomac River  NWR Complex.”

Doing the Right Thing In the Right Place: Monarchs and Woodcock at Umbagog NWR

Today we’re taking a closer look at Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge and the outstanding work they are doing to manage habitat for the American woodcock and the Monarch butterfly!

Located on the border of New Hampshire and Maine, Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge sits in the heart of the Northern Forest, where the southern deciduous forest transitions into the northern boreal forest. The diversity of habitats in the 32,800 acre refuge provide vital breeding and foraging areas for a wide range of wildlife. Staff actively manage the refuge’s forests to improve a range of habitat conditions, and this variety of habitats accommodate a suit of species of conservation concern. The American woodcock is one of these species. Woodcock utilize early successional habitat for nesting, feeding, courtship, and roosting. The long billed bird is best known for its throaty peent calls and aerial displays at dusk.

Managing for the American woodcock can prove demanding as the upland bird has four very specific habitat requirements. Manipulating the land is intense work, but the reward of conserving this species is worth it. As an added benefit, other wildlife species utilize this management strategy, including the monarch butterfly. Consisting of weedy fields and small shrubs, early successional habitat allows for the healthy growth of milkweed, the monarch’s host plant.

This five acre field was the sight of last year's milkweed planting. Mature milkweed with eventually spread and establish itself over the next few years.

This five acre field was the site of last year’s milkweed planting. Mature milkweed will eventually spread and establish itself over the next few years.

Much like a bird, the monarch butterfly migrates each winter to Mexico, utilizing milkweed and wildflower habitat throughout Canada, United States, and Mexico. With both monarchs and woodcock populations on the decline, habitat restoration is of utmost importance! Here’s how Umbagog helped two species for the price of one.

To provide proper roosting habitat for the American woodcock, patches of five acre fields are bush hogged on a 2-3 year alternating rotation, to ensure the availability of continuous woodcock roosting habitat. The maintained fields bloom with various types of native wildflowers, a great nectar sources for pollinators! To boost the healthy growth of milkweed, refuge staff works closely with the local elementary schools to propagate the young milkweed seedlings. Working with students allows Umbagog staff to reach out to the local community about the species they are working to conserve. The students also lend a helping hand to busy staff by caring for these plants and ensuring they survive. For the past two summers, Youth Conservation Corps students have also aided the refuge staff by planting the propagated milkweed in maintained roost fields throughout the refuge, boosting habitat values for both the monarch butterfly and the American woodcock.

By working to improve habitat and educating students about the importance of these species, the US Fish and Wildlife Services aims to preserve habitats and instill in others the knowledge to save our declining ecosystems. Click here to learn more about monarch conservation.


Celebrating a Legacy: Maine & Youth Conservation Corps

By: Kimberly Snyder, Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge



Kim Snyder is a writer by trade and a biologist at heart. She is currently working as an intern at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

On August 19th, Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge celebrated its 50th Anniversary with an open house; showcasing our history, conservation work, and future plans for the refuge. The event was well attended, with over 200 people stopping by our tables, talking with our biologists or enjoying a guided trail walk.

One of the most pleasing encounters for our visitors though, was the Conservation Corps table. There, they were greeted by three generations of service members: our current Youth Conservation Corps members who had put in eight weeks of conservation and maintenance work for the refuge, our Maine Conservation Corps members who were serving 11 month terms in educational and biological capacities for us, and Ralph Bonville a 97-year old gentleman who had served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936 building fire roads near Princeton, Maine. They made quite a team!

Photo 1.JPG

Ralph (center), joined by MCC alum Elizabeth Deletsky (right) and 2016 YCC service member Jackson (left). 

[As a former member of MCC], it was really cool to see where it all started…and how it evolved.

– Elizabeth Deletesky, MCC service member alumni

Ralph joined the Corps in his late teens, using the New Deal opportunity for paid maintenance work to gain experience working on public lands. He found himself in the back of a pick-up truck, shoveling gravel for roads with four other young men. The work was physically demanding but he gained a lot from those long hours. Like so many other young men of his time, Ralph joined the military after working for the Corps. He worked as a naval switchboard operator until an injury gained him an honorable discharge. His journey then took him, oddly enough, to the Timber Point Peninsula in Biddeford, ME, and the estate owned by Charles Ewing. Mr. Ewing hired Ralph as a groundskeeper and he spent much of the rest of his career working for the family. Ralph often had to complete his work on a shoestring budget, doing his work as efficiently and economically as possible. In the 1940s, Ralph painted the entire exterior of the family’s home on the island. Now 80 years later, he met the kids who were repainting it — our YCC crew!

Photo 2.JPG

YCC and MCC service members of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

This crew of five high school students and their supervisor spent many hours at that house this summer; clearing out invasive species, rebuilding paths, and repainting the house — all on a modest budget. They became as familiar with the grounds as Ralph had and they were delighted to meet him in the flesh after hearing so many stories about him.

For both YCC and MCC, Ralph’s stories and experience was a reaffirmation of everything they had done during their service. He represented the path forward from their employment here as well as perspective on what their service would mean to service members and citizens of the future.

Just like Ralph, our MCC and YCC members are thankful for the skills they have learned during their service. Maybe in another 80 years, one of our YCC members will speak to a visitor about the summer they spent cutting invasive pepperweed and painting the old house on Timber Point.