Every day we see the impacts of corps on the people we serve. But it’s a special treat when corps members take time to write to us about their corps experience and what they are up to now! Judy Wolfe, program manager at Boulder County Youth Corps, was delighted to receive the following note from alum Michael Gjellum. With Michael’s permission, she shared it with us to share with our readers. We hope you’ll feel as inspired as we are!

Dear Judy,
As I am nearing the end of my junior year of college at the University of Wyoming, I have been thinking about the youth corps a lot. My first summer working I had no idea what to expect and if I could handle the hard work and intensity the summer job would require me to give. However, I did survive that summer and then another and then another one after that. After four years of working for the youth corps I had made lifelong friends, learned so many life skills from my team leaders and on top of that I found out how much I can accomplish through hard work and not giving up.

The skills I got from youth corps I try to use in my everyday life, especially in my studies at college. My dream job is to work for National Geographic as a photojournalist and I am getting closer to that goal more and more each day. Recently I was awarded a grant by the University of Wyoming which will allow me to spend the summer of 2019 doing a paid photojournalism research project. I decided I wanted to do my project on the regrowth of a forest and the return of life into an area after a fire has swept that landscape. I felt inspired to pursue this project because of my summers working on the 1st forestry team where I learned all about a healthy forest and the impacts both positive and negative of a wildfire.

The opportunity youth corps provided me has opened so many doors in my life. If I went back and told the young me working the first summer in the hot sun that what he was doing would end up being so much more than just a first job, I probably wouldn’t have believed it. However, it is true and the youth corps has changed my life and so I wanted to thank you so much for the opportunity and chance you gave me seven years ago.

Michael Gjellum
University of Wyoming
Journalist at Branding Iron

Team Leader Flashback!

Here’s a memory about Michael from his first team leader, Benjamin White-Patarino:

“I remember Michael as a shy little 14-year-old. One time, I pointed at a mullein that needed to be removed and said, “Michael: warrior spirit!” He let out a fierce cry and popped out that plant with hearty enthusiasm. It was really fun to see him grow into his job. I’m so glad it’s had a lasting impact on him!”