Governor Brown Visits OYCC Youth


Governor Brown Visits Bend-area Youth Work crew on a Fire Prevention Project, one of Many Summer Job Programs supported by the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps

Coauthored Jeremy Ahola

A crew of 13 Oregon young people, busy with summer fire prevention work through the Heart of Oregon Corps in Central Oregon, had the chance to meet Governor Kate Brown last week, who paid a special visit to their work crew in a forest outside Bend. Governor Brown and program staff from Oregon Youth Conservation Corps (OYCC) visited the crew and their leaders from Central Oregon Youth Conservation Corps (COYCC) program, where the Governor talked with the youth about the fuel reduction project they were performing, their on-the-job learning, and their future college and career dreams.

Youth Work Towards Fire Prevention

The 13 youth Corpsmembers (age 16-20) were working hard last Thursday as part of three youth crews on a fuel reduction project for the US Forest Service to prevent forest fires. For some of the Corpsmembers, this was their very first paid job. Conversation led naturally from the fuels reduction project that day and the impact of this work in managing forest health, to learning more about the youth and what they were learning or gaining individually from this OYCC sponsored summer program.

The participants highlighted job skills that will serve them throughout their lives. They shared with Governor Brown that they were learning how to work with people of different personality types, how communication is critical, that working hard all day is exhausting so sleep is very important, and that they as individuals can have an active role to play in how they affect and understand their environment. 

Gov. Brown speaks to OYCC youth crew

Governor Brown also discussed with the Corps-members if they had aspirations for post-secondary education, and if this job experience had influenced them towards any prospective career paths. After hearing about their recent visit to Central Oregon Community College, Governor Brown highlighted the Oregon Promise as a great opportunity for those youth who are interested in pursuing post-secondary education path through Oregon’s community colleges.

After the experience wrapped up, the participants discussed the impact for them of this unique opportunity to talk in a small group with the Governor while they stood under the trees of the Deschutes National Forest. Many noted that they never would have expected in their lifetime to meet and shake hands with the Governor, an expressed appreciation for the genuine interest she showed in their individual stories and their Corps-member experience. Next time, all the youth agreed, they would ask her to join them in stacking piles! 

The Heart of Oregon Corps is one of numerous organizations statewide supported by grant funding, training and resources administered by the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps (OYCC), part of the HECC Office of Workforce Investments. As a component of state efforts to foster workforce and education opportunities statewide, the OYCC supports work experiences for young Oregonians, empowering youth by helping them develop critical life skills through paid employment opportunities where they gain valuable job skills while completing community focused, natural resource and stewardship projects.

Numerous program staff came together to help coordinate this OYCC program visit; many thanks to the US Forest Service, Governor Kate Brown and her program staff, Heart of Oregon Corps, Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, and HECC employees of the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps, Office of Workforce Investments.

About Author

Endi Hartigan is the Communications Director for the State of Oregon's Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). The HECC envisions a future in which all Oregonians—and especially those whom our systems have underserved and marginalized—benefit from the transformational power of high-quality postsecondary education and training.

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