The Storrie Student Trail Crew program is a trail restoration and backcountry-learning experience for high school students, ages 16 to 18. The program will run from July 3 to July 28, with an application deadline of April 14.
The crew will consist of eight high school students and two professional Wilderness First Responder-trained adult leaders. Participants will receive a weekly cash stipend for their work of $425, in addition to living in the backcountry Monday through Friday, for the four weeks of the program.
Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship trails program coordinator Mandy Beatty said, “This program has been going on since it was started in 2012 by Greg Williams and it is a partnership between the SBTS and the Mt. Hough Ranger District. Last year was a bit of what I term a ‘gap year,’ so we’re really trying to get the word out that this summer is geared up and just waiting for applicants.”
Youth crews from Plumas, Lassen and Sierra counties will be working to build and manage trails in the Storrie fire footprint near the Belden portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. The program is competitive and will require an in-person interview, physical exam by a doctor and additional paperwork following the initial application.
“I really want to stress that this program is for kids of all strengths, sizes and abilities,” Beatty said. “We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and one of my major goals with the program is to allow youth to face their fears and challenges and then to allow them to embrace the challenge instead of running away from it.”
Beatty described the program as a “unique experience, where you can expect to work harder than you thought possible, get dirty, learn about yourself and have a good time in nature while doing it.”
Beatty noted, “Trail building is an extremely marketable skill to have. This is immensely helpful to those that may not have a ‘traditional’ four-year college trajectory or it can even help those that do plan on entering extended education. These are life skills that carry over into many aspects of life.”
Beatty herself had her first experience with trail work straight out of college, at age 22, and she said, “The experience was absolutely life changing. It is one of the hardest things that I have ever done, but it also gave me time to reflect on my future. I’m unbelievably grateful and I feel that I am a better person because of the experience.”
In Beatty’s eyes, trail crews learn to know and understand what public lands are, learn about themselves and how to function in and outside of a group when it comes to project management and meeting goals on trail work.
“For many kids, this has been their first real job — the first time they have had to step up and take responsibility, with boots on the ground to work by 7 a.m.,” Beatty explained. “Struggling is a given, but again, I show the kids that the struggle is something to tackle instead of something to avoid.”
There is no experience required for youth to participate in the program and Beatty is willing to assist with arranging transportation as much as possible to prevent youth from being excluded merely due to a lack of transportation. Food and tools are provided by the SBTS, and the trail crew will be responsible for creating a small “community,” cooking, cleaning and holding themselves and each other accountable.
“I find that it is truly powerful to explore and serve your own home in this way,” Beatty said. “It really opens many eyes to the perspective of Plumas County as a magical place.”
Those who may find that they love the work have the possibility of becoming a regular crewmember with SBTS, but according to Beatty, it is something that the kids will have to work for.
For more information regarding the Storrie Student Trail Crew, contact Beatty at 517-8409 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This program operates in cooperation with the Forest Service, an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Get outside this summer
Kids aged 16-18 can join the 2017 Storrie Student Trail Crew and have the opportunity to develop backcountry safety skills, experience outdoor recreation, earn a trail builder certification, become a Sierra Trail steward and take home some hard-earned cash.
Application Deadline is April 14.