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Casper & Lander Field Offices
Release Date: 10/02/12
Contacts: Lesley Elser, 307-261-7603    
  Sarah Beckwith, 307-347-5207    

Wind River Reservation Youth Crew and BLM Benefit from
2012 Summer Youth Program

Students from the Wind River Indian Reservation took away positive experiences and made much-needed improvements to public lands when they spent the summer of 2012 working for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on projects in the Casper and Lander field offices.

Don Clifford (Lakota):
“This summer I got to experience going out with different people with different jobs than last year. I also got to experience some historical places like Hole-in-the-Wall and Castle Gardens. I learned about more jobs that the BLM has to offer. I liked that we got to go to Buffalo for two weeks and Lander for a week. I also like that we did a variety of projects, instead of just one the whole summer. I had a good time doing this job, and enjoyed having Budd as my boss.”
Alvin Spoonhunter (Northern Arapahoe):  “I worked this summer with the BLM Resource Crew in Casper Wyoming. I learned a lot this summer, from safety skills, to coping with my peers and other crews, such as the WCC of the University of Wyoming. I'm one of the lucky students to actually have an opportunity like this. It was a great experience to work with some of my peers. I had lots of fun camping, working and learning new things. I learned how to plot timber sales, learned some new fencing techniques, and learned how to use a GPS instrument and many other things. I really enjoyed the program and hope to return next summer.”
Taylor Bell (Arapahoe):  “This year’s Diversity Program has not only refined my character, but also gave me the opportunity to respect nature. The program has taught me aspects I could use in future years. These aspects include: confidence, hospitality, and respect for nature. The summer job provides an understanding of nature and we got to explore the jobs of the many people we worked with, (biologist, botanist, archeologist, ecologist, etc.). This summer, I have learned the process of taking initiative, and I must thank the Bureau of Land Management.”
The Wind River Reservation Crew and BLM Employees (l to r: BLM employees Mike Sheehan, Jon Kaminsky, Crew Chief Budd Pitt, Don Clifford, Spencer Lone Fight, Taylor Bell, BLM employee Rubel Vigil, Alvin Spoonhunter, Cole Littleshield, Dylan Bergstedt, Alicia Sanchez, and Clarence Aaragon.
Lander’s Resource Crew working in the South Pass area on a buck and pole fence as part of an abandoned mine land remediation project.
Forester Cindy Allen shows Spencer Lone Fight how to take measurements on a lodgepole pine tree to calculate the board feet for a salvage timber sale.
The program was initiated in 2011 by a team of BLM employees including Silvia Kraft, High Plains District Office support services supervisor; Rubel Vigil, Lander assistant field manager; and Budd Pitt, recreation technician and crew leader.

“The program was so successful last year that we decided to do it again this year and the number of students that participated doubled,” said Kraft. “In 2011 we received ten resumes and hired four students under the BLM’s Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP). This year we received 28 resumes and hired nine students.”

The recruitment team visited three schools on the Wind River Indian Reservation and talked to interested students about the program. Nine students from the Eastern Shoshone, Lakota and Northern Arapahoe Tribes, who share sovereignty on the Wind River Indian Reservation, were hired under the STEP program.

The STEP program provides federal employment opportunities to students. Using the STEP program benefits both the agencies and the employed students. Agencies can discover first-hand knowledge of potential permanent employees, while students enjoy meaningful employment and interesting assignments while working on natural resource projects on public lands.

“The Wind River Indian Reservation is bordered on all four sides by either BLM or U.S. Forest Service lands, however very few Native American students know who we are and what we do and the opportunities available to them,” said Vigil. “Our goal was to provide positive employment and learning opportunities for these students while making improvements to public lands.”

The youth crew included: Alvin Spoonhunter, Don Clifford, Taylor Bell, Alicia Sanchez, Spencer Lone Fight, Samuel Hurtado, Cole Littleshield, Dylan Bergstedt, and Clarence Aragon. Students represented Wyoming Indian, Fort Washakie Charter, St. Stephens, and Lander Valley High Schools.

The students completed many projects including riparian fence construction and repair, dispersed campsite clean-up, old mine shaft protective fencing construction, fuels reduction projects, and seed collection for the national Seeds of Success (SOS) program.

Fence exclosures, like those the crew repaired around Weasel Springs near Jeffrey City, protect and restore riparian areas and important spring sources that provide water to wildlife, livestock and wild horses. In addition, several of the repaired exclosures were developed to provide hikers along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail with clean, reliable water sources for filtering.

The contribution the crews made this summer to SOS will improve local restoration efforts and wildlife habitat re-seeding efforts in the future. SOS stores native plant seeds in seed banks across the nation in an effort to preserve genetic diversity and for use in the restoration of disturbed areas.

“The willingness and enthusiasm of these young men and women was contagious,” said BLM Forester Cindy Allen. “Not only did we enjoy working with them, but we learned from them.”

The students also experienced what it was like to live and work away from home. BLM campgrounds served as home bases for the Casper crew as they practiced life skills such as cooking, cleaning and learning to live and work together as a team. Individual crew members were also taught and practiced the concepts of the Leave No Trace, Take It Outside, Tread Lightly and the BLM’s recycling program.

According to Pitt, “For some of these kids it was their first time camping and being away from the reservation. They learned how to cook, build a fire, navigate by map, and clean up a campsite before leaving. They also learned key survival skills.”

Students rounded up their experience with a visit to the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center (NHTIC). At NHTIC, they received a tour of the facility and were introduced to BLM interpreters while completing vegetation projects and walkway features around the Pony Express Interpretive Area. The crew, along with one of the crew member’s father, also helped NHTIC staff set up a 19-pole teepee at the entrance to NHTIC.

The youth crew got the chance to showcase the success of this new program when Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Marcilynn Burke visited Wyoming in July. The youth met with Assistant Secretary Burke one-on-one and discussed what the youth initiative program means to them and their futures. They gave a PowerPoint presentation on their accomplishments this summer and answered questions from Burke and BLM Wyoming State Director Don Simpson.

Several parents were on hand to meet with Burke and expressed to her how this program has helped their children. “This is an important program for the reservation,” noted Don Clifford’s mother, Andi Clifford. “My son wouldn’t have had the self-esteem to get up and make this presentation a year ago.”

In addition to completing important public lands projects, the crew members were exposed to the roles and responsibilities of a federal natural resource agency and future employment opportunities available to them. BLM resource specialists also provided educational information with each of the projects they worked on so the students would gain important knowledge about natural resource management. They gained first-hand experience in forest health, range and recreation management, wildlife and wildlife habitats, local history, and stewardship of public lands. The BLM is looking forward to continuing this program in 2013.

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.

Casper & Lander Field Offices   2987 Prospector Drive      Casper, WY 82604            1335 Main Street      Lander, WY 82520   

Last updated: 10-02-2012