Thursday, January 6, 2011

Get Kids Outdoors: U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service Hiring

Members of the “Daisy Slayers,” a 2010 Youth Conservation Corps youth crew at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, pause from pulling invasives to pose for a photo. Lexxs Sutton is second from the right.

The  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has increased youth employment more than 50% in fiscal year 2010, exceeding the Department of the Interior's goals.

Tyler Hotten, 18, a high school senior in Underwood, North Dakota, is just one example of a teen who wanted to work outdoors last summer.

After two months of mowing, weed trimming, goose banding and other labor at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, he also came away with something more: an interest in a career in wildlife conservation. "If you like being outside, it's the job for you," he says.

The Service hired 2,434 people ages 15 to 25 to work on national wildlife refuges and other sites — up from 1,535 in 2009 and 515 more than the 2010 target of 1,919 set by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's "Youth in the Great Outdoors" program.

New employees included 771 hired through the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC); 551 through the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and Student Career Experience Program (SCEP); and 254 through permanent and temporary positions.  Partnerships with more than 70 organizations — such as the Student Conservation Association, The Corps Network and refuge Friends groups — brought 858 young people into the Service fold.

The jobs were varied and often physically demanding. At Baca National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado, YCC crews removed 13 miles of barbed wire fence. At Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico a youth crew improved access for visitors with disabilities.

At William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon (pictured above), YCCers helped build a boardwalk, maintain trails, install landscaping and hand-pull invasive English ivy, tansy ragwort and oxeye daisy. "It's very labor-intensive, bending over in the heat, pulling plants up by the root," says refuge biologist Jock Beall. "The idea is not to dig or disturb the soil because that causes more seeds to germinate."

To learn more about these and other fun opportunities for our kids to connect with the environment, visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife employment page.

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