Seniors dig trails, build bridges, clear land

By Chloe Lister

Jackson Hudgins ’12 and Steven Ring ’12 traded in their cell phones and mattresses for hand tools and sleeping bags for six weeks this summer after being hired by the Northwest Youth Corps Summer Conservation Corps.

The Corps is based on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps in which “youth crew members work on conservation, reforestation and recreation projects” throughout the Northwest, their website said.

Hudgins found NYC while searching online for a summer job where he could also work outdoors and told Ring about the organization.

“I wanted a break from what was going on in Los Angeles, and I like being outdoors and I wanted to work for my own money,” Hudgins said.

Ring said that he was also looking for a summer job where he could make some money and wanted to spend some time outdoors away from LA.

Hudgins and Ring were both hired. Hudgins worked in Idaho and Ring worked in Oregon.

The government hires the NYC to do trail maintnence, so each week their crews would have different projects.

Most of the work in Idaho was digging trails with large hand tools and building bridges for river crossings, Hudgins said.

Working on these projects was a “welcome adjustment” from life at home, Hudgins said

In Oregon, Ring spent his first two weeks ripping out barbed wire fences, and the rest of his time there doing tread work.

“Tread work is trail maintenance, so where there’s been a mudslide on a trail you dig a new trail. Or, if something’s falling off you build a retaining wall, and if the trail needs a bridge you build a bridge,” Ring said.

Ring said that he gained a new appreciation for the trails he would hike on back home, knowing how much work went into making them.

“I learned to never cut a switchback by taking one of the shortcuts off to the side,” Ring said. “It takes so long to build one of those switchbacks and so much planning goes into that and it’s so hard to dig vertical trails, and cutting it just ruins that.”

Hudgins and Ring both felt that they learned from their experiences working.

“I got a little perpective because I learned what it was like to work and actually do manual labor,” Hudgins said. “I feel like I take things less for granted now, like waking up late and even having a car.”

“One of the best parts of it was being around the kind of people who you’ve never been around before,” Ring said. “There were kids from foster care, homeless kids and one of my good buddies had worked at his dad’s lumber mill his entire life. You don’t get that just hanging around at Menchies.”