Texas Conservation Corps Helps Out Mississippi

This past fall, TxCC had the unique opportunity to help out our coastal neighbors. Through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy and The Corps Network, TxCC sent members to the Biloxi, MS area to not only serve through conservation projects, but by helping to build a corps program. Local youth participants were recruited for the 7 week program while TxCC Crew Leaders and Staff did what they do best – lead, teach, keep members safe, and when the days get long, inject a little fun. Everyone, from the corps members to the participating organizations, learned a lot and we are grateful to have had to chance to share our knowledge. Below are reflections from participants of the inaugural Gulf Coast Restoration Corps.

Honestly I must admit this has been one hell of an experience for myself. All my life I’ve lived on the Gulf coast and never have I got a chance to give back/help my fellow community. We went from cleaning all the homeless shacks in the woods, to getting waist deep into rivers and lakes to remove the debris. Along the way our fellow crew leaders Chris and Taylor have taught us many different types of skills, from hands on full action to “total pro mode” as they like to call it. They also taught us how to use and read the water quality meter. Overall the crew was good… And might I add, our crew leaders are totally awesome.

Conservation lifestyle by: Kilo Turner

 

I participated in the Gulf Coast Restoration/Climb CDC Conservation Pilot program led by Taylor Wolter and Chris Gomon. My experience was pretty much new to me. I had never been kayaking or even known about the different vegetation in my area. I learned about which plants were and were not native, how erosion and altering streams were affecting us, and, most importantly, that you shouldn’t wiggle around in a small boat. I liked the adventurous nature of the job but didn’t really like being at the will of nature’s elements. When it comes down to it though, I can dig it and look forward to getting our own Conservation Corps.

-KeJuan “Juice the Glove” Williams

 

I had a very fun experience, and had lots of fun with Chris and Taylor for these weeks. I have learned a lot from them, things I never knew such as, how to evaluate a stream, test the water and kayak. I like everything about this program. There is not a dislike about it, and if I could do it again, I would. And by the way, conservation rocks!!!

-Martin King

 

Hey my name is Lezzeunna May-Cousan and I just completed my first conservation work ever. I’ve had the best crew leaders to teach and help me grow into the person I am today. The best thing about conservation work for me was being out on the water. Everyday on the water was a good time. Conservation work may seem hard and boring at first but when you’re helping many streams, bayous and lakes, its not so hard. I hope everybody that does conservation work has as much fun as I did.

-Lezzeunna May-Cousan

 

Well the ending of a  pilot program is coming. This has been a fantastic run, learning new things and even new experiences. First, we learned to test the water with the water quality meter. Next, came the kayaks… at first sight this was a “no go” for me, but with the confidence of my instructors they slowly persuaded me to do it. We learned what invasive species were and all sorts of other things. Hopefully this will continue.

-Brandon McClarien

 

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Youth Conservation Corps in East Texas

This is the second year that Texas Conservation Corps has partnered with the US Forest Service to provide leadership to their Youth Conservation Corps program in East Texas. Participants aged 15-17 were recruited from Kennard, a small town near the Davy Crockett Forest, and worked in the forest gaining valuable job skills. A Texas Conservation Corps member serving with one of our Emergency Response Teams moved to East Texas for 2 months to lead the youth members. TxCC also had a 4 hitch project in the same ranger district, improving 27 miles of the 4C hiking trail, which allowed one of our crews to work alongside the YCC for most of the summer. The program ended 8 August and the following posts are reflections from their term.

 

 

These past couple of weeks have been adventurous for me and as well as the others! We built bridges, cut down trees, and cleaned up trails. I had never even used a power tool before. My favorite experience was working on the ruins of the old mill. I admit I was not a big fan at first because of the bugs and ticks I encountered, but the final product was so beautiful that I forgot about all the bugs. I enjoyed working with the other Texas Conservation Corps crew; they made it seem like there was not a gender difference in the work place! Being the only girl made me wanna strive for better. I really enjoyed being with the YCC program. I was able to work on my teamwork skills and my “attitude” -haha!  I’m really glad I joined the program.

Colby Adair

 

 

Over the summer we have built 3 bridges. We repaired the planks on a bridge on the Tall Pines trail. We also added on to another bridge on the Tall Pines trail. Then the project that I was over was the foot bridge right before the bridge that we repaired. It was a 12 foot long bridge, and it was 2 feet off of the ground. On that bridge we used 4 2×10’s. The other bridges we fixes we used 2×6’s. We had tons of fun building all of the bridges.

Damien Stowe

 

 

All last week we were bringing history back to life! Our duties were to work at the ruins of the old sawmill at Ractliff Lake. We brushed, moved dead trees, cut, and piled loose debris. It was one of the hardest weeks of work we have had all summer in this program. All of Ractliff lake holds history and stories from way before most of our lifetimes. It’s our job to preserve that and take care of it so we can pass it on to future generations.

O’Keefe Peterson

 

 

What we did during the past week or so was making an old run-down campsite into a state-of-the-art GROUP CAMPSITE!!!  We made a whole new tent pad too! I hated it though. Why? I had to friggen make it “perfectly even” – oh yea its was made out of dirt. So I’m sure you can imagine how difficult it was to rake a pile of dirt to make it even in a square form! And then we scraped some old paint off of picnic tables and repainted them. Then we put in some signs and lantern posts (painted thoses too).

Ethan Champagne