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Crew members, from left, Dylan Howell, Garrett Martens, Bailey Penninger and Kurt Boyd band a mallard hen at Ladd Marsh earlier this summer. (Courtesy photo)
Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area provides recreationists plenty of wildlife opportunities in Eastern Oregon.
But every summer, it also provides youth the opportunity to learn a variety of skills that will set them up for a future in wildlife.
This summer, Kurt Boyd, Dylan Howell and Bailey Penninger of La Grande, and Justin Graves and Garrett Martens of Union were selected among 41 applicants to participate in the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps’ Summer Conservation Corps program to help make improvements at Ladd Marsh.
“We interviewed nine kids and selected those five,” said Dave Larson, the manager at Ladd Marsh.
This was the 21st year the program took place at Ladd Marsh.
The five participants assisted with Ladd Marsh Youth Outdoor Day set up and assisted with waterfowl and mourning dove trapping and banding by banding 1,598 ducks, 61 Canada geese and 102 mourning dove, according to Larson.
They also removed brush and debris from fire access roads, rebuilt several hundred feet of split-rail fence, removed enclosures built several years ago to protect trees and shrubs, built three wildlife habitat enclosures, and assisted with fish surveys and general facility maintenance including weed whipping, painting and small construction projects.
They also did community service projects like picking up trash, removing illegal fire pits and brush from the face of the dam at Morgan Lake.
Larson said the program helps youth who have an interest in a career in wildlife.
“There have been several over the years who have gone on to a career in wildlife,” Larson said. “At least three this summer were interested in a wildlife career.”
The OYCC is a program within the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development. OYCC receives Amusement Device Tax funding from the Oregon Lottery and distributes those funds through grants to programs throughout the state.
The SCC is OYCC’s largest state-funded program, with the goal of having a local program in each of Oregon’s 36 counties, according to Larson.
OYCC provides funding for work crews throughout Oregon to complete projects such as trail construction and maintenance, landscaping, planting, wetlands restoration, invasive species removal and other projects.
Participants must be 14 to 18 years of age and three-fourths of participants must meet the disadvantaged and at-risk requirement.
To find out more about the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps, log on to ccwd.oregon.gov.