For students participating in the Canyon Country Youth Corps (CCYC) at the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education (FCS), a hard hat and shovel prove to be just as useful as a pencil and paper. CCYC is just one of four interrelated programs at the school and participation in it is invaluable for youth who come from all over the country as well as the nearby Navajo reservation to gain career experience in land management and conservation. It’s a program unique to this school that takes on the important task of preparing the next land management workforce.
Janet Ross, the school’s founder and Executive Director, says CCYC participants gain much more than job-related training. “The students gain work skills specific to where they’re working in addition to life skills, leadership skills, how to fill out a resume, how to keep a checking account; those kinds of skills,” she said. Students earn a wage as well as a handful of education certifications while working on service projects.
The amount of land the school covers in all its programs requires a lot of travel to and from job sites in all weather conditions. Naturally the school needs dependable, all-terrain vehicles to move people and equipment. To purchase these vehicles, Ross turned to USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Loan and Grant program. “We can’t afford to go out and buy all these vehicles,” she said, “The grant makes the loan affordable for us. As a nonprofit that’s really essential.”
With the proper tools to complete their work, students and staff of the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education are able to meet the demands of their unique curriculum that is so beneficial to the maintenance and accessibility of the area’s public lands. “I think FCS is an incredibly valuable resource for this community and Colorado Plateau as a whole,” said Ross. “We’re really trying to educate a broad range of constituency groups and support them with education, job skills, and training that nobody else is really doing.”