HELENA — Just south of Helena, the Montana Conservation Corps has officially wrapped up a fire mitigation project, where crew members were tasked with removing aerial fuel for a prescribed burn, or in the event of a fire in the area.
"There's a bunch of dead and down stuff on the ground. And we're just coming in and cutting all of the limbs and scattering them about so when they burn through here that it's a low intensity, and a more healthy, burn" said Nola Peach Versfelt, an MCC Crew Leader.
While the MCC is in the business of conserving nature and wildlife, the Corps itself also provides structure for some and an abundance of skills that will help crew members throughout their lives.
“I believe in the core programs wherever they're at, more than anything else in this country,” said MCC crew leader Zacaria Bell.
“Why do you say that?” asked MTN News.
“I think they have the potential to change people's lives in the way they need it. Right now, we're in pretty crazy times, and people are looking for something to give them purpose, and meaning," said Bell. "I think Corps work, you know, the programs are designed to help you figure out your goals in life. So even if you don't stick with it, they're still -- they're designed to help you figure out your purpose and what you want to do with life.”
While the Corps provides structure and purpose for some, it also provides members with an introspective look into their own life. For Jeremy Yoyetewa, a conservation corp member of five years between Arizona and Montana, it's that self-reflection that's been one of the best ways he's felt his self-worth has improved.
"It's a good reflection on, not only with your crew or with everyone, but it's a good reflection on yourself. That's how I see MCC," said Yoyetewa. "When you first come in you don't really know what to expect. But throughout the season when, you know, you go back to your campground or you go back to your tent and you really kind of start thinking about the positivity and how much self-growth you've done with yourself, and I think everyone is kind of feeling like that, especially for me."