Workforce Corner: Building bridges, building life skills at Crex Meadows Youth Conservation CampSummer is finally here in the northland, and with this season comes employment opportunities for regional youth.
By: By Mari Kay-Nabozny, Superior Telegram
Summer is finally here in the northland, and with this season comes employment opportunities for regional youth.
The Crex Meadows Youth Conservation Camp in Grantsburg, Wis., is a unique summer option for eligible teens from northwest Wisconsin. Over the past five years, applications for camp have steadily increased. This year, camp received its highest number of applications ever — 125 applications for 76 available openings. Nearly every school within the ten-county region the camp serves is represented.
Campers work with the Department of Natural Resources on a variety of projects at the 30,000-acre Crex Meadows Wildlife Area and Governor Knowles State Forest. They are paid for their labor, which is an unusual feature for a summer camp.
In the past, campers have removed invasive plant species, performed native seed collection, built bridges to increase trail accessibility, and assisted in the entire Canadian Geese banding process.
“Last year, there was a severe wind storm in Grantsburg. The campers, during one of the sessions, worked on post-storm clean-up, which was a great experience because the campers got to work and be involved in the community and with the community members,” said Suzannah Crandall, camp director.
In addition to their work with the DNR, campers participate in a hands-on science and life-skill based curriculum. Some of the science activities have included plant and animal identification, radio telemetry and triangulation, and analyzing and examining water samples. Local school districts support the camp by rewarding the campers with science or elective credit that to be used toward high school graduation.
A distinctive aspect of the camp curriculum is it is delivered by people from different organizations, allowing campers to be exposed to a diverse wealth of knowledge.
“The life-skill based curriculum is a tremendous learning opportunity,” said Crandall. “This year one of the topics we will discuss is career development. The class will involve looking at the skills and education you need for specific jobs, the process of applying for jobs, and how to prepare a resume and cover letter. Part of this lesson will also be on social media and how others perceive you based on your personal profiles.”
Some of the organizations participating in this summer’s upcoming activities are: Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), Crex Meadows Education Staff, and DNR interns. WITC staff will be involved in the career development activity and will be performing career assessments. Crex Meadows education staff help supervise campers during conservation projects, working alongside them, and leading lessons and other team building activities. DNR interns share information about the projects they are currently working on.
Campers don’t just work and study, however. There is also plenty of fun and recreation including swimming, sports, trust and teambuilding activities, campfire games, storytelling, movies, canoeing, and hiking.
The camp is a partnership between CEP Inc., the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board Inc., and the federal Workforce Investment Act.
For information, visit www.nwcep.org or www.facebook.com/CrexMeadowsYouthConservationCamp.