Youth Conservation Corps

(Job Opportunity for co-ed 15-18)

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47 Days to Work Outside, Build Community, and Learn About Southwest Conservation.

Are you a 15-18 year old looking for professional development opportunities in the outdoor industry? A way to bridge the gap between summer trekking and becoming a Cottonwood Gulch staff member? A way to make money this summer?

Join the 2020 Youth Conservation Corps in its third year to immerse yourself in Southwest conservation work, community living, and leadership skill development in the outdoors!

What is the Youth Conservation Corps?

“The U.S. Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a summer youth employment program that engages young people, ages 15 to 18, in meaningful work experiences on national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and fish hatcheries. Youth are engaged in fun, exciting work projects designed to develop an ethic of environmental stewardship and civic responsibility such as include work such as building and repairing trails; preserving and repairing historic building; removing invasive species; helping with wildlife and land research; and leading environmental education. “YCC supports the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, or 21CSC, mission to put thousands of America’s young people to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors.

  • “Affords members the opportunity to work and learn alongside federal employees in a wide range of natural and environmental projects
  • Assists youth to develop a life-long ethic of environmental stewardship and civic responsibility through team-based work projects and individual placements
  • Works to instill young adult awareness and appreciation of the public lands legacy and of the nation’s natural, cultural and  historic resources”

The above information is from the U.S. Forest Service YCC webpage, which can be found here.

Crew Life: What to Expect

The YCC is a residential program, meaning once crew members arrive, the crew is expected to remain together during the entire duration of the 7-week session. Crews and their leaders will live and work together in a community living space 24/7, as well as cook and share meals in a community setting. Each crew member will be provided their own 2-person tent for the season and may sometimes have cabins available. During the session, Basecamp will host two Rendezvous, events where all our groups come off the road to resupply and recount their experiences in a lively gathering. This is a good time for friends and family to visit crew members and to celebrate their hard work. 

After a day of work, crew members will spend evenings at either their remote field camps or our Basecamp where they will have opportunities for leadership roles, play games on the field, and reflect on their day around a campfire. Weekend activities will include more typical trek elements, like rock climbing, exploring slot canyons, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and learning about the native arts and cultures of the Southwest.

Who is Eligible?

We encourage all youth to consider applying for YCC jobs. To meet eligibility requirements, applicants must be:

  • At least 15 years old at the start of enrollment and must not reach age 19 before completion of the program
  • A U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the U.S., its territories, or possessions
  • Able to obtain a work permit as required under the laws of the applicant’s home state
  • Have a valid U.S. Social Security number or have applied for a valid Social Security number
  • Able to fulfill the essential functions of the assigned work with or without reasonable accommodations
  • Actively committed and willing to complete the assigned work projects

Crew members must also commit to the full length of the program and will need to bring their own backpacking backpacks and appropriate clothing, including long-sleeve shirts, long pants, hiking boots, and work boots (each serve their own important purpose). Crew members need to be capable of walking up to 3 miles with 45lb packs upon arrival, with the expectation to eventually accommodate up to 7 miles with 45lb packs. We expect crew members to have a willingness to learn to use hands for tools, controls, and other objects and they will be expected to occasionally lift and move up to 50 lbs.


February 14th: Apply Applications are filled out online. Applications are now available for 2020 at this link. Email programs@cottonwoodgulch.org to be put on the email list for YCC updates.

February 14-March 14: Application Review and Interview If selected, applicants will be contacted by a Cottonwood Gulch staff member for an interview. Please let your interviewer know if you are interested in the assistant crew leader position during your interview. *travel stipend may be available upon discussion with YCC Coordinator. 

March 30: Notification of Employment If selected to be a crew member, you will receive all the necessary paperwork to fill out before your arrival. This is a good time to make travel arrangements and look over the packing list to prepare for a summer of adventure.

June 8: Arrive at Albuquerque Sunport Please plan to arrive at the Albuquerque Sunport between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. with bags packed and ready for 7 weeks of hard work, exploration, and friendship.

July 27: Depart from Albuquerque Sunport Please plan to depart from the Albuquerque Sunport between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. with shoes full of sand and memories for a lifetime.

Inquire at programs@cottonwoodgulch.org or 505-248-0563 to learn more about becoming a Zuni Mtn. YCC Crew Member!

Crew Member Details

 Follow the link on the button above to go to the application.

Email programs@cottonwoodgulch.org  to be put on our general YCC updates emailing list


  • Co-ed: Ages 15-18
  • 9 crew members, 1 assistant crew leader
  • Session Dates: 2021 dates coming soon
  • Wage: $7.50/hr crew member, $8.50/hr assistant crew leader
  • Workweek: 35 hr/week
  • Certifications may be available, including Cross Cut Saw Training, Leave No Trace, and Wilderness First Aid

Crew Member Testimony-Leah G., 2019 Crew

“Spending this summer on Y.C.C was the most amazing summer of my life.This was my fourth and final year at Cottonwood Gulch, and I could not have asked for a more incredible experience. Within the first few days, it was clear that our crew was a special one. Even as our numbers changed our group got along so well. We did two kinds of work throughout the summer, building latrines at base camp, and trail maintenance in the Lincoln and Cibola National Forest. Though the work was very rewarding, and the views we had doing trail maintenance were spectacular, our jobs were sometimes very hard and stressful. Having such an amazing crew lead by such wonderful leaders made everything worth it. I am so proud of everything we accomplished this summer, from building tongue and groove walls, to sawing almost 300 downed trees, to waking up at 5 every morning to make breakfast, to learning what to do in case of a medical emergency in the wilderness. This crew was the most hard working, dedicated, kind, and hilarious, and hard working crew I have ever met, and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to work with the Y.C.C.” -Leah G. (2019 ZMYCC crew member)

Crew Member Testimony-2018 Crew

“As a result of being on the ZMYCC, I have had to face my fears, strengths, and shortcomings head on.  This crew has helped me to improve myself and learn a lot about work ethic and family. I won’t be forgetting this.”

“These 4 weeks at the Gulch were different than anything I’ve ever done because I felt responsible and gained skills in work and social skills.  I wouldn’t have changed anything because I truly believe this put me out of my comfort zone and gave me a taste of having a job, risk management and managing my emotions.”

“ZMYCC has been an incredible experience that has helped me give my life a new direction.”

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