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Miles City Field Office
Release Date: 08/02/12
Contacts: Mark Jacobsen    
  (406) 233- 2831    

MCC youth crew works BLM site

MILES CITY, Mont. --- The BLM-administered Howrey Island Recreation Area received some much needed help this week from some Montana teens who volunteered part of their summer to work with the Montana Conservation Corps.

Howrey Island Recreation Area, located a few miles west of Hysham, received considerable sediment from last year’s Yellowstone river floodwaters. Sand and silt was deposited onto the cement walkways of the nature trail; a couple of feet deep in some spots. Considerable stretches of the walkway were completely covered and summertime vegetation has compounded the issue. Old cottonwoods have also fallen across the trail and need to be cut and cleared.

The MCC’s “Expedition” members are youth in their mid-teens who are supervised by MCC crew leaders and work under the supervision of BLM Miles City Field Office staff. This year, summer seasonals Hillary Begger and Jaramie McLean fulfill that role, both whom reside in Miles City.

The crews live out of tents at Howrey Island, prepare their own meals and lead somewhat Spartan lives while on the job. No technology, no wireless access, no Facebook, no television.

“It’s awesome,” said Nathan Garvine, 16, a student at Bozeman High School. “I love the outdoors, its great being outside doing this.”

Garvine, who learned about the MCC from one of his school teachers, was typical of the group’s collective attitude regarding the work, their surroundings and the MCC. With each wheelbarrow load, the hidden walkway steadily emerged as the crew continuously shoveled sand, scraping the cement clean as they went.

Veronika Shchepetkina, 15 and Thomas Stevens, 15, attend Bozeman High School as well and both had a brother who worked on MCC work crews and referred their siblings to the job. Whitehall resident Brett Mocilac, 15, a student at Twin Bridges High also got a recommendation from his brother, who was another MCC alumnus. Seaira Kroes, 14, from Bozeman was introduced to the idea of MCC summer work by her mother; although she said she would rather be sleeping than shoveling.

Crew Leaders Forrest Schoessow, 22, from Milwaukee, Wisc. and Hannah Hostetter, 23, from Bozeman supervised the Expedition members.

Schoessow is a student at Ohio State University pursuing a master’s in anthropology when he’s not in Montana. Hostetter recently graduated from Seattle University with degrees in Environmental Studies and English. She started with the MCC in February.

MCC’s Expedition program lasts about four weeks and includes safety training, leave-no-trace principles, logistics and on-the-job orientation. The BLM sees the benefit of dollar stretching on public lands as the crews provide muscle on labor intensive priorities, freeing fulltime staff to tackle other pressing issues.

The MCC is a recipient of a federal AmeriCorps grant focused on community service. The young adult volunteers serve as crew leaders or in Corps-member programs. According to the organization website, all programs focus on the MCC mission: “ inspire young people through hands-on conservation service to be leaders, stewards of the land, and engaged citizens who improve their communities...”

BLM Recreation Planner Dena Lang overseas the bureau’s recreation areas in eastern Montana and is intimately familiar with the maintenance needs of each of them.

“I have been amazed at the amount of work they have accomplished; this group is a very hard-working and highly motivated crew,” said Lang. “The work ethic I have witnessed from MCC crews and the BLM recreation seasonals is outstanding.  They have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time that we will be able to get a large portion of our work at Howrey Island completed this month.”

For more about the Montana Conservation Corps, see: For the latest BLM news and updates visit us on the web at: and on Facebook at:

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Miles City Field Office   111 Garryowen Road      Miles City, Montana 59301  

Last updated: 08-02-2012