Community Connections: Ode to a Rocky Mountain Youth Corps member

RMYC mission

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps engages young people in the outdoors, inspiring them to use their strengths and potential to lead healthy, productive lives.  We teach responsibility for self, community and environment through teamwork, service and experiential education.

I am a Rocky Mountain Youth Corps crew member.

I clear the trash that is left behind from the Farmer’s Market and July Fourth fireworks.

I plant and water the treelings that dot the landscape and provide shade and habitat for our local animal friends.

I reduce the fuels and fight fires that threaten our forests and homes.

I build the fences that protect our wildlife and cattle.

I am the sound of metal on rock as my tool shapes the earth into a trail that leads to beauty and peace.

I am the strength of the rock wall that supports the trail as it winds up steep Rocky Mountain slopes.

I am the sound of the chainsaw as it removes dangerous trees from trails and campgrounds.

I am the memory of the people of our past as I restore the buildings they once occupied.

I am laughter and the crackle of the flames from the campfire as I discuss world issues and personal challenges with my fellow crew members.

I am the smell of enchilada pie cooking in the Dutch oven over the open flames.

I am the wonder of the endless sky as I live beneath the stars for extended nights.

I am the silence of my soul being grounded to Mother Earth.

I am the salt of the earth as I sweat in the hot summer sun.

I am the pride of accomplishment of a team that has formed, stormed, normed and performed.

I am young eyes peering through sunglasses beneath the brim of a white hard hat looking at what can be.

I am the foundation of community, ethic of environment and passion of service.

I wear the dirt of the trails you wander, I smell of the plants and trees in the parks and mountains, and I smile with peace and pride in my heart, knowing that I am making this community, environment and world a better place.

When you see me with my dirty face and ragged clothes in your grocery store, in your café, in your laundry mat, in your library, in your park, don’t be afraid, don’t judge, I am the future.

I am proud to be a corps member.

In the words of Tatanka Iotanks (Sitting Bull), “Let us put our heads together and see what life we will make for our children.”

Gretchen Van De Carr has served as executive director since founding Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in 1993. Gretchen has a master of science degree in environmental engineering from the University of New Hampshire. She was a founding member of Routt County Youth Services Coalition, Partners in Routt County and Grand Futures Prevention Coalition. Gretchen currently serves as vice chair of the Community Resource Center board of directors and as a board member of Routt County Human Resource Coalition, Routt County Youth Services Coalition, Communities That Care, NW Colorado Rural Philanthropy Days Interim Steering Committee and the Yampa River Legacy Project.

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