Our Youth Conservation Teams (YCT) stewardship program was the first of its kind in the 11-state Ohio River watershed. It leveraged ORF’s resources and connections throughout the region in areas of education, restoration and resource management. This program filled a huge void in the local workforce and was necessary to support local, on-the-ground conservation work. Led by an adult crew leader, the high school student crews employed Best Management Practices (BMPs) to undertake conservation projects that helped to protect and restore habitat.
During the summer, student crews worked six hours a day, five days per week to install conservation projects that reduced erosion and runoff in the target subwatershed. With the aid only of hand tools, crews completed projects that included planting trees and shrubs; creating habitat; trail work; removing invasive species; rock lining ditches and culverts; and installing stormwater rain gardens, water bars and other diversions to direct water from roads, parking areas and paths to vegetated areas.
From 2011 to 2017, 69 students performed 303 conservation projects. Below are some of the YCT crews’ accomplishments. For greater details, please visit the individual year reports linked below.
- Cleared 6 acres of habitat of invasive species
- Removed more than 300,000 invasive plants and trees
- Cleaned up 3 tons of trash from creeks, streams and riparian zones
- Planted 820 trees
- Harvested native seeds
- Built bee habitat
- Installed bird boxes
In summer of 2021, ORF expanded the YCT program to become the Student Conservation Leaders program, with the goal of offering the program benefits and experiences to more students.
2017 Program Reports: Hoosier National Forest, Clermont County
2016 Program Report: Northern Kentucky
2015 Program Reports: Cincinnati Parks, Hamilton County, Boone National Forest
2013 Program Reports: Hoosier National Forest, Boone National Forest, Campbell County, Hamilton County