The Wyoming Conservation Corps is proud to report our new military veterans program, Wyoming Veterans Trail Crew (WyVTC). The University of Wyoming released this report:
New Trail Crew Program to Benefit Wyoming Veterans
August 2, 2016 — A new Wyoming Veterans Trail Crew (WyVTC) will begin in 2017 as part of the Wyoming Conservation Corps (WCC), which is housed within the University of Wyoming.
In partnership with Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources, and Serve Wyoming, WCC has developed funding to create the WyVTC along with four other crews. Gov. Matt Mead last week announced the funding. WCC functions through partnerships with several entities in Wyoming.
During the veterans’ service in the program, crews travel throughout the state working on trail design, construction and maintenance. They will live and work outside in all weather conditions.
Marty Martinez, UW Veterans Services Center project coordinator, says the WyVTC will provide even more beneficial opportunities for veterans on campus.
“What I truly appreciate about this program is it capitalizes on the many skill sets our veterans gained through their military service. For one reason or another, veterans may desire a short break in their education plan, a time to step back from academia and hit the ‘reset button,’ so to speak,” he says. “After that break, they return to school and continue the trek to meet their academic goals.”
He says the WyVTC will be a useful and beneficial opportunity for UW veterans to improve Wyoming’s trails and outdoor experience for everyone.
“I am sure this program will find great success, and I look forward to promoting its activities within our UW student veteran community,” Martinez adds.
The WyVTC will operate throughout the summer and fall. Participants will be provided a living stipend each month and a $2,887 Education Award at the completion of service. Both the stipend and award receive support from Serve Wyoming — a governor-appointed commission for AmeriCorps — through the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Trail crew members also will receive an industry-recognized chainsaw certification, wilderness first aid, Leave No Trace training, and access to upper-division UW credit for participation to provide tools for academic and career growth.
“Crews are provided tents and one large canvas tent to cook in, so they really are pretty comfortable and safe, but definitely still sleeping on the ground,” says WCC Assistant Director Patrick Harrington. “WCC provides all food for projects as well.”
Work in the program will include flagging new trails, digging in trail tread, constructing stone staircases, building turns for mountain bike trails, constructing bridges and using chainsaws to remove hazard trees from the trail. Crew members will be required to commit 900 hours of service on Wyoming’s public lands.
Participants must be U.S. citizens ages 18-34, able to lift up to 50 pounds repeatedly, familiar with hand tools (preferred) and able to hike in rugged terrain carrying heavy packs. Applicants must have served/be serving in the military.
Funding for the program is through a successful $50,000 Recreational Trails Program Grant and a match from Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources, which will direct project work for the WyVTC. Support also comes from $3,500 from Rocky Mountain Power to support training costs associated with the WyVTC. Foundational funding for salaries and other member-associated costs for the crew, and all other WCC-operated crews, comes from Serve Wyoming.
The WCC’s mission is to promote individual development, stewardship and education through localized national service. Founded in 2006 at UW, the organization builds on the legacy created by the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and the Youth Corps of the 1970s by carrying out the highest caliber of service for Wyoming’s public lands.
Participation in the WCC program provides members with an opportunity to learn firsthand the complexity involved with current natural resource management decisions in Wyoming as well as direct contact with the work being done, Harrington says.
For more information about applying for the WyVTC, visit www.wyoconservationcorps.org.