Community Connections: The impact of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps |

Community Connections: The impact of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps

Gretchen Van De Carr/For the Steamboat Today
Steamboat Springs High School senior Taylor Zabel, shown here with the group working on a cabin, said his experience with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps has allowed me to realize and achieve his true potential.
Courtesy Photo

The mission of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps is to engage youths in the outdoors, inspire them to use their strengths and potential to lead healthy, productive lives. The Corps teach responsibility for self, community and enviornment through teamwork, service and experiential education.

The best way to describe Rocky Mountain Youth Corps is to ask a participant, so I asked Steamboat Springs High School senior Taylor Zabel a few questions about his experience. Here’s what Taylor had to say:

Q. You participated as a Community Youth Corps member and a Regional Conservation Corps member for two consecutive years each. You also participated as a sixth-grader in RMYC’s Yampa Valley Science School program, then returned as a Junior Leader for two consecutive years during high school. What would you say was your biggest reason for returning?

I returned for a second year of Regional Conservation Corps because I felt like I needed to make a difference in my community and the RCC program was a way that I could do that as well as experience the outdoors and make it a more accessible and enjoyable place to be for everyone. I decided to return to the Yampa Valley Science School program in high school because it was the highlight of my sixth-grade year, and I wanted to help make it the highlight of someone else’s sixth-grade year. I’m also a science man, and to be able to help teach children younger than me about the wonderful world of science was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up.

Q. How has Rocky Mountain Youth Corps change your perspectives on who you are? On others? On your community? On life?

RYMC has changed my perspectives in showing me that I am a much stronger leader than I could have ever imagined. I am now confident in my ability to lead any group and have that group be productive and fun. RYMC also has shown me that the world isn’t as perfect as the naïve me had pictured it. People aren’t always as nice and polite and friendly as living in a small town would portray, but those people also showed me that I can cooperate with anyone, no matter how much I disagree with them, and that I can definitely learn from others that have different opinions than mine.

RYMC showed me that I can help my community in many ways, whether that be fixing a trail on Emerald, or repainting an entire school house, or planting baby trees to replace those that were cut down by a logging operation a year or two ago. The community always needs improvement, and I can personally help make a difference in the well-being of my community.

RMYC changed my perspective on life. It has shown me that I need to take more adventures and explore the world around me more often because the world is such a beautiful place, and that all I need to do is look closer. This could mean taking a bike ride in the backyard once a week, going fly-fishing in a new location once a month or just going and hiking Steamboat’s wonderful trail system once or twice a week.

Q. Did RMYC lead you to a new career or job interest? If so, please describe.

RMYC did not directly lead to my dream career, but it did give me a push in the right direction. It showed me that I want a job that has to do with the outdoors and allows me to be outside working in nature. I currently plan to major in environmental sciences at Montana State University, and RMYC helped to show me that path and start me down that road to that career.

Q. Any other thoughts on your experience?

RMYC is a wonderful program that has allowed me to realize and achieve my true potential, not only as a person, but also as a community member. RMYC is a program I wish to continue to be a part of in the future.

Gretchen Van De Carr is the founding executive director of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and is involved in youth serving organizations throughout Routt County. She lives here with her husband, Peter, and two boys, Otis and Oliver.

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