The Appeal of Chainsaw Life

When Marty Vigil was earning his GED through the Weld County Department of Human Services, he heard about a chance to join Weld County Youth Conservation Corps (WCYCC). One word about the position stood out and caught his attention: chainsaw. He liked the idea of learning how to operate one correctly, and decided to apply. Since then, he’s mastered that chainsaw – and has come away with so much more.

“They give me lots of different experiences, like volunteering for other projects,” said Marty, now 25 years old and serving his fourth term with WCYCC. Having first joined at age 18, Marty has enjoyed the many opportunities he’s had to benefit his community in Weld and surrounding counties in northeastern Colorado.

Using his chainsaw training, Marty has spent lots of time cutting down invasive trees – notably Russian olives – then swamping and chipping them. “Russian olives are bad for the environment. They kill other trees by taking water from them. When you take them out, the county looks better,” he said. These projects have taken Marty to interesting locations such as a farmer’s property in Johnstown, and to Colorado Youth Outdoors in Windsor.


In addition to removing trees, the crew has helped set up for events at Greeley’s Island Grove Park, and traveled to Peetz in Logan County, where it removed a school’s run-down playground equipment and replaced it with new equipment.

“I like the service we do,” said the Greeley native. “It’s fast-paced and there’s always something to do.” Another plus is the ability to spend time outside. “I get to enjoy the weather. When I’m outside, I work harder,” he added.

Marty has discovered something else about himself: he enjoys the opportunity to be a responsible leader. “I’m the oldest one on the crew, and the other kids look up to me. I am a good role model. They like me, and I make them laugh.”


What YOU Accomplished in 2017

Youth corps accomplished an incredible amount last year, thanks to the support and involvement of partners, sponsors and, above all, the youth, young people and military veterans who offered their services to Colorado. Check out all that was achieved!

  • 295 miles of trail built or maintained
  • 119 trail bridges constructed
  • 140 miles of trail corridor cleared
  • 1,347 steps installed or maintained
  • 6,867 feet of retaining walls installed or maintained
  • 1,726 acres treated for the threat of wildland fire
  • 22,174 hazard or invasive trees removed
  • 1,803 acres treated for invasive species
  • 3,009 gallons of herbicide applied to harmful invasive species
  • 4,407 plants and trees planted
  • 58 acres of seeds planted
  • 33.65 miles of fence built, maintained, or removed

  • 1,850 clients served with energy efficiency services
  • 20,393 high efficiency light bulbs installed
  • $2,289,498 in lifetime savings over the life cycle of the bulbs
  • These efforts led to the equivalent of taking more than 400 cars off the road
  • 12.8 million gallons of water saved through high efficiency toilets, showerheads, and aerators – the equivalent to nearly 19 Olympic-size pools of water

And, our favorite…

  • More than 172,000 pounds of material moved by corpsmembers

Huge thanks all the way around for a job well done – you make an important difference in Colorado!


Congratulations, Corpsmembers of the Year!

We will be so pleased to recognize nine corpsmembers for their outstanding contributions to youth corps at our annual Youth Corps Awards Ceremony, coming up at the Colorado State Capitol on Jan. 29!

Here’s a sneak peek at the Corpsmembers of the Year: 

  • Kaylei Barboza, Mile High Youth Corps
  • James Byram, Western Colorado Conservation Corps
  • Daveon Chiles, Boulder County Youth Corps
  • Haley Freeman, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps
  • Allison Jonas, Larimer County Conservation Corps
  • Joe Law, Mile High Youth Corps – Southern Front Range
  • Rob Layman, Southwest Conservation Corps – Four Corners
  • Dom Marinucci-Given, Southwest Conservation Corps – Los Valles
  • Kelsey Uligian, Weld County Youth Conservation Corps








Congratulations, Corpsmembers of the Year, and thank you for all that you do. This honor is richly deserved!

New Study Released on GOCO’s Economic Impacts


Colorado lawmakers are exploring a bill that would make the Colorado Lottery permanent – and that would be terrific news for youth corps and for Colorado. A new study unveiled this month details the economic impacts of this work in Colorado. Here’s an excerpt from the section about youth corps, which begins on page 25:

“In total, 229,000 direct jobs, $9.7 billion in wages and salaries, $28 billion in consumer spending, and $2 billion in state and local taxes are generated through this industry each year. Youth corps is one of several organizations, volunteer groups, and government agencies whose work supports the amenities that drive this industry… Its contribution bears mention because of the sheer size and importance of the outdoor recreation economy for all Coloradans, and because of the direct impact of youth corps projects on supporting the quality of the outdoor experience.”

Read the Denver Post article that contains details and a link to the report. Or download the report and fact sheet on the Trust for Public Land’s website here.

Meet Riley Davis, CYCA’s AmeriCorps VISTA

If you’ve visited CYCA in the last six months, you’ve likely met Riley Davis – he’s celebrating his six-month anniversary as our AmeriCorps VISTA. But if you haven’t crossed paths with him (after all, he spends half of his time at the Bureau of Land Management office) you can get to know him here and now!

Q: What are three things you love about working at CYCA?

A: The CYCA family. Everyone here is so dedicated to what they do – it makes for a great environment to work in. Also, CYCA’s work helps a large number of people from diverse backgrounds and circumstances – it feels amazing to be a part of such an awesome team. And CYCA’s partnerships with groups like the Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Coalition, Environmental Learning for Kids and Great Outdoors Colorado have given me the opportunity to meet many of the players hard at work protecting Colorado’s public lands.

Q: What have been your favorite projects to work on so far?

A: I have two. The first (which is not really a project) was going with Scott Segerstrom to the Black Forest area in El Paso County to help a youth corps trail crew build a section of trail. It was a great way to see the “end result” of the work that goes on and meet some youth corps participants. My second favorite project was helping the Bureau of Land Management attend the Denver Public Schools 8th-Grade Career Fair in November. It’s a good feeling to see something I put a lot of effort and planning into go so well.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about living in Colorado?

A: Having four seasons, especially the snowy ones. My hometown only has two: a foggy fall and winter, and a slightly warmer spring and summer. It’s nice to be in a place that has such dramatic and colorful seasonal changes.

Q: What inspires you about conserving Colorado’s land, water and energy resources?

A: I’m originally from Monterey, California, just north of the Big Sur coast and a short drive from the redwood forests of Santa Cruz. I spent a lot of time in awe-inspiring places as I was growing up, but sadly, every year I return home, it seems like there is some new threat to places that mean so much to me. Even in the five short years I have lived in Colorado, I have seen similar changes that threaten to scuff the natural beauty of this place as well. While there isn’t much I can do to protect my old home from here, I use that same drive to help conserve a place that has become just as important to me.

Happy six-month anniversary with CYCA, Riley – we are glad to have you here with us.

CYCA Enters Year Three of AmeriCorps Grant

CYCA announces that 2018 marks the next cycle of an AmeriCorps grant that was first issued in 2015 – and we are so pleased to continue building on that momentum.

The size of this year’s grant grows from $1.39 million to $1.55 million – the largest in the portfolio of Serve Colorado, the Governor’s Commission on Community Service. We’re thrilled to pass on the benefits of this award to our partners in six service locations across the state.

The grant aims to meet four areas of need, including job readiness and education; disaster relief (especially for wildland fires and flooding); population growth and the commensurate increased use of public land and outdoor recreation infrastructure; and energy efficiency. This year the number of members we’ll serve will grow from 320 per year to over 400, whose terms of service will range from 300 to 1,700 hours. In addition to becoming eligible to earn AmeriCorps Education Awards worth up to $5,815, which they can apply to future tuition or reduce existing student loans, service members will receive the benefit of participating in career training, life-skills training and environmental education activities.

Youth corps that will be participating in this grant include Weld County Youth Conservation Corps, Larimer County Conservation Corps, Mile High Youth Corps, Mile High Youth Corps-Southern Front Range, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, and Western Colorado Conservation Corps. Congratulations, all!


Roundup Riders Awards $20K for Equestrian Trail Projects

Roundup Riders of the Rockies Heritage and Trails Foundation has done it again with a grant to CYCA in support of equestrian trail construction and rehabilitation. CYCA’s award of $20,000 will be applied to three weeks of work conducted in the White River National Forest, San Juan National Forest and Nelson Ranch Open Space.position and set other styles.


White River National Forest, Eagle Holy Cross Ranger District: Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will partner with the U.S. Forest Service to construct 40 feet of new elevated tread and install check dams to slow the flow of water and lead it off the trail. These projects on the Turret Creek Trail will help remediate the damaged tread and worsening erosion that create hazards to equestrian riders.

San Juan National Forest, Columbine Ranger District: Southwest Conservation Corps will build upon work it successfully completed in 2017 by eliminating additional unsafe, user-created routes in the Chris Park trail system in favor of constructed, purpose-built trails. The corps will focus on three immediate-need areas by re-routing, re-defining tread, constructing retaining walls, and building check dams and rock walls to prevent erosion.

Nelson Ranch Open Space, Douglas County Open Space: Mile High Youth Corps will maintain and re-construct trail corridors on Swallowtail Trail, a valuable connector trail, to ensure safety for equestrian users – including increasing line-of-sight and reducing risk of wildlife encounters. The crew will re-establish a sustainable tread, restore the corridor by removing or clearing encroaching vegetation, and rehabilitate switchbacks and climbing turns.

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