Written by Tyler Wysner
The Forest Stewards Guild Youth Conservation Corps, or FSYC, aims to provide valuable field experience for young adults interested in forestry and conservation. In collaboration with the Forest Service, crew members participate in ongoing projects and gain hands-on skills in areas such as trail maintenance, fencing, stand monitoring, and more. Safety is always a top priority for the crews, but this year following safety protocols has taken on a new meaning.
The Guild took special care to prepare guidelines and protocols in collaboration with physician recommendations to keep the crews safe and healthy. These protocols included daily temperature checks, utilization of facial masks, hand-washing stations and sanitization practices, as well as implementation of social distancing and recurring Covid-19 testing as a precautionary method for avoiding the spread of the virus. Of course, these guidelines posed challenges for everyone working in the field. Wearing a mask while hiking and completing physically-demanding tasks is difficult, but possible when the crew leaders and members are able to support each other.
Each of the four crews had their unique challenges, but many of the participants expressed their satisfaction with the FSYC program despite the pandemic limitations. “During a time that is so scary with the pandemic, it has been nice to explore what the natural world has to offer.” – Selina Chacon, Coyote Crew Leader
Although this year has posed new obstacles, the summer FSYC program proved to be a success. Many of our partners at the Mountainair, Coyote, Las Vegas, and Mount Taylor Ranger Districts commented on their satisfaction with the program and the crews ability to operate under unique circumstances. Only with their support and continued communication between Guild members and the crews were we able to make this summer a success, and we gladly associate the challenges faced with learning opportunities. We hope that we at the Guild and crew members alike will be able to use the experiences this year going forward, allowing us to face new hurdles with a positive attitude.