|From Corpsmember to Cryptologist
We hear many amazing stories about the experiences of youth corps members – and sometimes we’re lucky enough to receive a letter from the parents of our program participants. Rocky Mountain Youth Corps recently received just such a letter from the parents of Susie Heine, a RMYC alum. They commended RMYC on its work, shared observations about their daughter’s experience and updated the corps on Susie’s post-corps adventures.
Bill and Melinda Heine say that their daughter considers her summer in the corps to be the best in her life. “With you guys, she learned to work hard for something outside herself, and to appreciate and embrace a minimalist lifestyle.”
Susie’s parents went on to share a little more: “Susie graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2010 with a B.S. in geography. She then joined the Navy and was accepted into the Korean Language School at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey, CA. She just graduated (with honors – giving her graduation speech in Korean!) in March, and has been sent to Pearl Harbor, where she will work in cryptology and the Korean Language. Susie says her time at DLI was the most difficult mental work she’s ever done, while the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps was the most difficult physical work she’s ever done! Of course she is enjoying the Hawaiian nature scene, hiking, etc., which she learned to love while working in the Colorado mountains under RMYC.”
Susie herself echoed these words in a follow up email she sent to RMYC:
“I am currently stationed on Oahu working as a Korean linguist for the US Navy. I was sent to a year and a half of intensive language classes taught by native Korean speakers in California. After that I came to Oahu for further training in cryptology, which I only recently completed about a month ago. Two years of training later, I am finally working my job!
The Navy was the best decision I could have made and I love it! It has opened so many doors and has shown me opportunities I never knew existed. Also the camaraderie is fantastic, and reminds me of my days working trail crew for Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. Enduring intense conditions fosters friendship like nothing else, and I definitely remember my RMYC companions for that. Also RMYC taught me hard work and just how far I can push my body physically, all of which has been essential to my life in the Navy.”
We just love getting letters and updates from our alumni and finding out where they are today. Thank you, Susie (and Mr. and Mrs. Heine), for sharing your story with us!
Photo 1: Susie Heine, a RMYC alum who says her experience with RMYC was the “most difficult physical work” she’s ever done.
Photo 2: Susie Heine stands proudly in her Navy uniform.
"It Looked Apocalyptic"
The City of Colorado Springs recently re-opened the first trail in its system that was wiped out by the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire. “It looked apocalyptic,” said Col. Marty France of the Air Force Academy, describing what the terrain at Blodgett Peak looked like before the rehab work. “Everything was really black,” he said. “The ground was covered in soot and there were only a few scrub oaks starting to peek through.”
The swift re-opening of the area was a result of the hard work of 20 Mile High Youth Corps members, 100 Air Force Academy cadets, Rocky Mountain Field Institute volunteers and technical advisors, and the City of Colorado Springs staff. The work completed by the Mile High Youth Corps crews, funded by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and Pikes Peak Community Foundation, included the installation of erosion control structures, re-construction of the trail, and clearing hazard trees along the trail corridor.
“It’s very impressive to see all the work the youth have done, not only to get it so it’s preserved, but for them to have the experience preserving it,” said Todd Cohen of GOCO while touring the site at the grand opening.
Jeff Webb of the city’s parks department added that, “This is a chance for folks to see what recovery looks like” following the devastation of the fire and resulting flash floods in July and early August that claimed one life and destroyed homes in Manitou Springs.
The re-opening of Blodgett Peak attracted lots of attention in the local news! A TV crew showed up to interview hikers who were excited to see the trail open to the public again. The Gazette also covered the re-opening in this article, and the City of Colorado Springs developed a video commemorating the event.
Photo 1: Corpsmembers survey the work area at Blodgett Peak, which was been devastated by fires and floods.
Photo 2: A hiker describes her excitement about the re-opening of the trail in this local news coverage.
Black Hills Energy Supports MHYC Crew
Black Hills Energy donated $1,000 for Mile High Youth Corps’ Wolverines crew working in Pueblo the week of October 7-11. The sponsorship allowed the 10-person crew of young adults, ages 18-24, to maintain and construct fencing at the Pueblo State Wildlife Area in order to improve wildlife habitat. The corps was also able to provide more in-depth environmental education sessions to the corpsmembers as a result of the donation.
Wildlife, as well as local residents who use the Pueblo State Wildlife Area for hunting, fishing, hiking and bird watching, will benefit from the improved facility. The youth corps crew dismantled old interior fencing on the property to expand wildlife habitat, and re-used the materials to create a new fence to mark the property boundary of a recently purchased parcel of land.
The corpsmembers benefit from the project as well. They earn a living stipend for their service and an AmeriCorps Education Award for college or trade school, in addition to gaining valuable work experience and building team skills.
“Black Hills Energy is proud to partner with the Mile High Youth Corps this year and join the efforts associated with Pueblo and southern Colorado,” said Wes Ashton, external affairs for Black Hills Energy. “Youth corps is such an important program and ties into three of our top passions: youth development, environmental responsibility and the support of community projects.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife also helped to fund the crew at this site.
Photo 1: A Mile High Youth Corps member prepping fence wire.
Photo 2: Corpsmembers pulling fence at the Pueblo State Wildlife Area.
Hellos and Goodbyes
Ariel Kay, a native Coloradan, joined the Colorado Youth Corps Association this month as our Good Works for Youth AmeriCorps VISTA Leader. Ariel previously served as an AmeriCorps YouthBuild VISTA at Mile High Youth Corps, where she designed curriculum and service learning opportunities for young people in the YouthBuild program. Prior to her VISTA service at MHYC, Ariel worked for five years at Girl Scouts of Colorado as a summer camp counselor and has a passion for outdoor education and the outdoors. Ariel earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with an emphasis in development, and a minor in criminology from the University of Denver (DU). During her time at DU she worked in research labs, focusing on research about female juvenile delinquency.
CYCA bids a bittersweet farewell to VISTA Leader, Lexi Prigge. Lexi is headed home to Iowa where she secured a full-time position as the agency relations coordinator at Food Bank of Iowa. We are thrilled that Lexi is furthering her career but will miss her fun and creative energy, unwavering support of the VISTA members and passion for service.
Colorado Gives Day is rapidly approaching - December 10, 2013. Pre-schedule your donation of $75 or more to support the Colorado youth corps movement. For every $1 we raise from people like you, we generate $4 in direct support for youth corps to engage more young people on critical conservations service projects. And this year, we are supporting flood recovery efforts, in addition to our other land, water and energy projects - but we can’t do it without you. We will leverage your gift of just $75 to engage a young person in a youth corps for one week. Your donation is tax deductible.
You can pre-schedule your Colorado Gives Day gift HERE.
CYCA Fall Friends Reception
Please join us for the Colorado Youth Corps Association’s Fall Friends Reception. We are thrilled that John Fielder is able to join us this year and share some of his spectacular photographs. We will also hear from a young woman about her experience in a youth corps. And for the first time, we are hosting a silent auction, so come ready to bid on some great items. Sale and signing of John's Colorado books and calendars to benefit CYCA.