Our Summer of Service crews have just passed the halfway point! With five weeks left to go, we decided to catch up with two of our Corpsmembers, Olu and Eriq, and asked them about their experiences with MHYC.
Olu is an Alumni Mentor, a leadership position among the SOS Corpsmembers. Alumni Mentors are Corpsmembers who have served one term before who have returned to help and advise new Corpsmembers.
I do not know anyone who has used a chainsaw or who even understands what fire mitigation is. The fact that Mile High Youth Corps has taught me both of those things has made my experience here quite unique. This is my second summer at Mile High Youth Corps and once again, I only have good things to say about the organization. As an Alumni Mentor this season, I have had the opportunity to hold a leadership position, gain experience in making trails, and learn more about how to interact with people who are a bit different than me. I have also learned the importance of being flexible and how that skill can be used to set oneself apart from others in the workplace. A good work ethic is a pivotal piece to getting the most out of this experience.
Though I started off the season working with different crews on a daily basis, I was asked to become a part of the Trailblazers, one of the three sawyer crews. I gladly accepted the offer, mainly because I understood the need the crew had and the crew leader was my crew leader last season. Currently, we are cutting at the Berrain Mountain Park, which is in the Evergreen/Conifer area. We are focusing on cutting down diseased lodgepole pines and thinning out the forest to allow for more diversity. Once the trees are down, we put the logs into firewood piles for local residents to pick up and use and scatter the branches on the ground. Scattering the branches is important so that if a fire comes through the area, it has a better chance of staying on the ground rather than getting into the treetops, which is what causes destructive wildfires.
I’m grateful for the opportunity MHYC has given me to be a part of their Summer of Service program and will definitely encourage other people to take the time to be a part of this experience.
This is Eriq’s first summer with MHYC, and we have been lucky to have him aboard! Read below as he reflects on what he has learned so far:
My experience at Mile High Youth Corps has been a once in a lifetime endeavor so far, and I’m glad to have been a part of it. I learned the power of perseverance and got the chance to meet some amazing people.
Initially, I found myself very intimidated with the thought of cutting down trees using a chainsaw. I viewed myself as the last person on earth to become a sawyer. During the training classes, I remember trying to retain all the jargon that was being used and not stress myself out too much. I reminded myself to keep an open mind and be confident. The first week using a chainsaw wasn’t the best confidence builder for me. I kept getting the bar stuck in the wood, repeatedly hit the dirt with the tip of the bar, and even had a terrible hang up–which is when the tree does not fall the way you planned and gets caught in another tree. Even though I was doing horrible in my eyes, the people around me refused to allow me to believe that. I noticed that I wasn’t the only one doing these things and continued to receive positive words of encouragement from both the trainers and my peers. That encouragement drove me to correct my errors and helped me build my confidence with the saw.
Today, I’m still learning new techniques, and I continue to get better. I look forward to helping my environment every day and working with a great crew. I have created bonds with everyone on my team and am glad to have experienced everything with them. I understand how important it is to use positive encouragement with team members and feel like anything is possible when you are surrounded by good people. My favorite thing about this program is the wide range of diverse personalities that you encounter. Overall, I have enjoyed this experience immensely.
Best of luck to all our Summer of Service crews as they head into the last half of their term!