Comfort Johnson, a rising junior at Jordan High School in Durham, is one of seven students who participated in the NC Youth Conservation Corps summer camp at Pisgah National Forest. Yasmin Bendaas/EducationNC
Imagine being a high school student and spending seven weeks in the forest with complete strangers. That’s exactly what seven students did as part of their summer with the North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) out in Pisgah National Forest.
The students worked on maintaining trails and learned to build rolling dips and rock armor drains to control water flow and prevent trail erosion. In addition to conservation work (for which the students were paid), the summer experience also served as youth development.
“I think we do a really good job of developing a good work ethic. This is the first job experience for many of our students,” said crew leader Kevin Conley. “Instilling a good work ethic outside of the academic environment I think is really important, as well as just outdoor skills and leadership skills.”
The program, funded in part by the Duke Energy Foundation, wrapped last week on August 3. Learn more about the experience from crew leaders and students in the photo story below:
Yasmin Bendaas is a Science writer. A North Carolina native, she received her master’s degree in Science & Medical Journalism at UNC Chapel Hill, where she was a Park Fellow. She received her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology in 2013 from Wake Forest University, where she double-minored in journalism and Middle East and South Asia studies. As an undergraduate student, Bendaas gained insight into public health when she interned at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, a statewide grantmaker focused on rural health, including access to primary care, diabetes, community-centered prevention, and mental health and substance abuse.
As a journalist, Bendaas has been funded twice by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for fieldwork in Algeria — first to cover a disappearing indigenous tattoo tradition, and again to look at how climate change affects rural sheepherding practices.