Skip to Content

Youth Conservation Corps

The Youth Corps The Youth Corps


YCC award.DCR's Virginia State Park Youth Conservation Corps Program was honored with the United States Department of the Interior's Outstanding State Volunteer program award in 2010. The Take Pride in America award cited the YCC's "... outstanding commitment to the stewardship of America's public lands and natural and cultural resources."

OVERVIEW: The mission of DCR’s Virginia State Parks Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is to engage young people in a structured program of important conservation and park projects on public lands while providing learning that fosters teamwork, self-esteem, social responsibility and respect for the environment.

The program includes three elements united by the types of project, environmental education and adventure programming, and the age of the participants. These are environmental stewardship programs, not summer camps. Participants work hard, sometimes in difficult conditions including deep mud, heat and mosquitoes and flies.

Here's a video featuring a few crewmembers who participated.


  • Restoration and preservation of wetlands, stream banks, endangered species and other wildlife habitats
  • Foliage restoration, water quality testing, removal of non-native plants and weeds, watershed work, nursery management, landscaping, mapping, surveying, recycling and other community improvements
  • Trail restoration and construction
  • And much more

Youth Corps projects are visible, tangible and meaningful. Crewmembers often return to the parks where they served and appreciate their projects for many years. Projects have educational aspects, are environmentally sound and fulfill an unmet need in the park.


The Youth Corp The Youth Corp
The Youth Corp


The Youth CorpYouth Conservation Corps (YCC) - This is a three-week residential program. Crews live in the park for three weeks. Work generally takes place in the daytime, and environmental education and adventure opportunities fill evenings and weekends. Crewmembers work and live as a team. Crewmembers also complete several projects throughout their park. Recruitment is targeted to attract youth from diverse backgrounds. Young people with a strong background in environmental education are encouraged to apply, but young people who have never experienced a park setting are welcome as well. An executive director and YCC coordinator handle the recruitment and selection of crewmembers and supervisors. Selection is based heavily on the quality of responses given in the application. Site selection and project planning are handled by park staff.

The Youth CorpYouth Service Corps (YSC) - Through this non-residential program, service is used to re-engage at-risk and court-involved young people with their community and the environment. It runs Monday through Friday. Young people generally arrive at the park's corps site at 8 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m. The state parks partner with local youth service providers or organizations that generally work with at-risk youth. The partner provides meals and transportation and selects participants. Generally the partner also provides staff experienced in supervising the youth involved. Environmental education and adventure programs are offered in lieu of work during the day or added on the weekends or evenings, depending on the agreement with the partnering organization. Agencies that help at-risk youth and interested in learning more about this program should contact us.

The Youth CorpYouth Development Corps (YDC) - This is a weekend program held during spring and fall. Crewmembers arrive on Friday nights, prepare a meal and set up camp. On Saturday, they work on a conservation project, much as in the YCC, but of course the scope of the work is limited by the short duration of the event. This program is particularly helpful to parks that lack adequate facilities to support longer summer programs. On Sunday the young people take part in outdoor activities such as rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing and interpretive hikes. This program is still in the planning stages.

Of the three programs, only the YCC requires potential participants to fill in an application form. The other two are by invitation of the executive director.


Position Summary

YCC crewmembersVirginia State Parks Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a three-week residential program that provides young people the opportunity to work in state parks on field-based projects. YCC crewmembers are why the program exists. The program’s goal is to create environmental stewards and future leaders through community engagement, physical labor and teamwork. The YCC experience is unique and impossible to forget. Crewmembers are expected to work in hot, sometimes harsh conditions. Some crewmembers shed blood, sweat, tears or a combination thereof during the three-week session. It’s not all fun and games, but in the end most participants believe, “The work is hard, but I had fun.” While YCC is here to offer opportunities to young people, some things are required from crewmembers.

Crewmembers should come into YCC willing and able to work in the outdoors on various projects throughout state parks. Crewmembers live in provided housing with nine fellow (same-sex) crewmembers and three crew leaders. Crewmembers should expect to jump into activities and projects feet first and put aside differences with fellow crewmembers to form a team. They will follow instructions given by any authority (park staff, crew leaders, etc.) comply with all safety regulations and guidelines. Crewmembers will complete chores as assigned and maintain proper hygiene and a clean bunk area, and they’ll take part in after-work programs and activities.

YCC crewmembersExcept for cameras, all electronic devices (cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc.) are prohibited in YCC. YCC maintains a no-electronics policy to minimize distractions from team-building. Crewmembers must at all times be present in the sense that they’re fully focused on the task at-hand, and electronic devices detract from this.

YCC 2016 Session Dates

  • Session One: June 26 – July 16
  • Session Two: July 24 – Aug. 13

Applicants may choose a session preference but not a given park. Hundreds of applications are taken into consideration so specific-park requests can’t be accommodated. Some applicants’ session preference will not be granted. Also, participants are responsible for their transportation to and from the park.

Crewmember Duties

YCC crewmembers have the following responsibilities:

  • Participate in a teamwork setting with a positive attitude for the duration of the program.
  • Be respectful of fellow crewmembers or crew leaders.
  • Follow instructions given by any authority including crew leaders and park staff.
  • Follow safety regulations and guidelines presented by crew leaders and park staff.
  • Attend and engage in interpretive events and environmental education programs.
  • Actively participate in games and activities at the bunkhouse led by crew leaders.
  • Complete chores (dishes, sweeping, cooking) daily, as assigned.
  • Maintain proper hygiene and a clean bunk area at all times.
  • Wear YCC-issued uniform attire in a proper manner.

Physical Requirements

  • Able to hike up to 5 miles a day.
  • Able to use hands for tools, controls and other objects. Also able to reach with arms and hands.
  • Occasionally lift and move up to 50 pounds.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Must be at least 14 by June 1 of the program year.
  • May not be 18 years old before Aug. 31 of the program year.
  • Must be going into at least their freshman year of high school and cannot have already graduated from high school.
  • Must be in good physical condition with no injuries that could prohibit activities in YCC (example, a sprained wrist would prohibit proper use of hand tools).

Those who have already served as crewmembers are welcome to apply again. A returning crewmember must have demonstrated exceptional prior performance in the program. Applicant selection is based heavily on the quality of responses given in the application. Remember, this is a work-at-will program. If upon arrival or during the session a crewmember chooses not to help with a project, that person will be sent home and receive no stipend. Applicants need not live in Virginia to apply.

Crewmember application

The crewmember application will be available on Jan. 1, 2016. The crewmember application deadline is March 1, 2016.

The application has questions covering the applicant’s interests and experience. Applicants also must submit two references (name and email address). Email notes will automatically be sent to the references to complete the recommendation survey when the online form is submitted. For a crewmember applicant to be considered, both references must submit responses before March 1, 2016. Applicants are responsible for verifying that their references received the email and have completed the survey in time.


Upon successful completion of the program, crewmembers will receive a $500 stipend. If a crewmember is sent home before the program is over, no stipend will be given to that individual.

This program is a volunteer opportunity with stipends awarded to offset the personal costs and time for the individual’s commitment to the program. Therefore, the time spent during YCC can be counted towards community service hours in school, etc.

YCC Gear and Amenities

Participants are responsible for transportation to and from the park. Participants’ meals, lodging and transportation are covered upon arrival at the park. Crewmembers are given a YCC backpack, hat, shirt, water bottle and safety gear. Participants are responsible for bringing a few necessary uniform items. Housing varies by park, but each YCC participant will have a bed or cot with linens provided (bring pillow), access to showers or a bathhouse, and time for laundering. Participants must bring about $10 in change for laundry and some spending money for souvenirs, personal snacks, etc.


Position Summary

YCC crew leadersVirginia State Parks Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a three-week residential program that provides youth with the opportunity to work in Virginia State Parks on field-based projects. YCC crews help parks with various projects including the construction of benches and picnic and camping pads, trail creation and maintenance, preventing pollution, etc. Crew leaders have many roles and are key to the success of YCC. This position is demanding but provides many rewards. Successful applicants demonstrate high standards, creative problem-solving, excellent judgment, and compassion for Virginia’s natural resources and young people. A crew leader’s primary responsibilities center on helping crewmembers in the field while ensuring their emotional and physical safety.
Leaders must reside with crewmembers in provided housing and are responsible for maintaining a positive team atmosphere for the duration of the program. Leaders work with their team to plan various educational and recreational activities including at least one environmental education program a week. Leaders must minimize their use of cell phones, computers and other electronic devices.

Leaders are responsible for organizing crew schedules, a budget, equipment, required forms and evaluations. Leader must submit receipts and documentation for the budget and submit them along with forms, evaluations, and all other documents and files to the program coordinator at the end of each session.

YCC 2016 Dates (all mandatory)

  • Crew Leader Training: Sunday, June 19 - June 22
  • Session One: June 23 – July 16
  • Session Two: June 21 – Aug. 13

Crew Leader Duties

Leadership and Mentorship

  • Manage, supervise and participate in day-to-day activities of the YCC crew at the worksite and at home.
  • Promote individual crewmember development through mentoring and a healthy teamwork atmosphere.
  • Help crewmembers make the most of their experiences.

Safety and Risk Management

  • Monitor, manage and promote the crew’s physical and emotional safety on and off the worksite.
  • Transport the crew safely in a minivan or a 15-passenger van.

Program Management and Implementation

  • Train and motivate a crew of 10 young adults to efficiently complete projects.
  • Plan, attend and engage the crew in environmental education and interpretive programs in the park.
  • Plan and incorporate weekend plans to engage the crew in recreational activities.
  • Coordinate and communicate logistics and operations with co-leaders, park staff, the program coordinator and the program director.
  • Participate in nightly conference calls for the duration of the program to give daily reports and obtain necessary information from the program coordinator.


  • Complete documentation including but not limited to work reports, crewmember evaluations, program surveys, accident reports and discipline forms.
  • Manage the Small Purchase Credit Card, gas card, food budget and receipt log.
  • Physical Requirements
  • Must be able to hike up to 5 miles a day.
  • Ability to use hands for tools, controls and other objects. Also able to reach with arms and hands.
  • Occasionally lift and move up to 50 pounds.
  • Required to drive a vehicle.

Minimum Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Leadership experience with youths and young adults, not simply a peer-group setting
  • Ability to work as a team member and mentor, and to be a direct, fair and clear crew leader
  • Excellent organization skills
  • Experience performing physical outdoor work
  • Physically fit and able to work long days in less-than-ideal conditions (heat, rain, etc.)
  • Enrolling into junior year of college in fall 2016 (or equivalent post-high school education/experience)
  • Must pass a background check
  • Good driving record and must possess a current, valid driver’s license

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience in a youth corps or conservation corps
  • Experience working long days in less-than-ideal conditions and on difficult and hazardous terrain (steep slopes, wetlands, heavily forested areas)
  • Experience teaching, facilitating and team-building with diverse groups of people
  • Demonstrated creative problem-solving capabilities
  • Familiarity with basic conservation skills including the use of tools
  • Sense of humor, spirit of adventure and desire to make a positive difference

Special Requirements

To become a YCC crew leader, you must be entering at least your junior year of college in fall 2016. The applicant must refrain from using any tobacco or alcohol for the duration of the crew leader training session and the YCC session(s) in which they are working. The applicant must have a driver’s license prior to crew leader training. Those chosen must wear their YCC-issued uniform attire for the duration of the program.


Upon successful completion of the program, crew leaders will receive an $1,800 stipend plus a $350 travel stipend. This is awarded at the end of each session. If a crew leader is sent home at any time before the program has concluded, stipends will not be given to that individual.

YCC Gear and Amenities

Transportation to and from the park is the sole responsibility of the participant. Upon arrival at the park, meals, lodging and transportation will be provided. The program will provide the participant with a YCC backpack, hat, shirt, water bottle and safety gear. Participants are responsible for bringing a few necessary uniform items. Housing varies by park, but each YCC participant will have a bed or cot with linens provided (bring pillow), access to showers or a bathhouse, and time for laundering. Participants must bring about $10 in change for laundry and some spending money for souvenirs, personal snacks, etc.

Click here to apply.

We are hiring applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.


  • 6:30 a.m. - Wake up. Time to start the day.
  • 7 a.m. - Physical training. Every morning, crews participate is various physical activities such as running, sit-ups, stretches and jumping jacks.
  • 7:30 a.m. - Breakfast. Once members have finished working out, it's time to grab some grub before setting off for the job site.
  • 8:30 a.m. - Morning project. Crews may maintain trails, make bluebird boxes or work on construction.
  • Noon - Lunch, break time. After the morning's work, it's time to grab something to eat and drink and talk about what's been accomplished.
  • 1 p.m. - Afternoon project. Crews may continue on the morning job or restore wetlands or build build osprey platforms, ramps or walkways.
  • 4 p.m. - Swim, games, team building. Time for crews to reward themselves and have some fun after a long workday.
  • 6 p.m. – Dinner time. Hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans, grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta, mac and cheese, corn on the cob, ice cream... just to name a few.
  • 8 p.m. – Evening activities. Interpretive program, night hike, canoeing, owl walks, astronomy.
  • 9:30 p.m. – Journal entry. Crew members jot down what happened that day and describe new experiences.
  • 10 p.m. – Lights out.
  • Weekend - Adventure training (activities vary by park). Caving, canoeing, horseback ride, nature hike or visit museum.

YCC crews - A Typical Day


VSP Director of Community Engagement and Volunteerism
600 E. Main St., 16th Floor
Richmond, VA 22319
Phone: 804-625-3984
Fax: 804-786-9294

Application forms: Crewmember | Supervisor