American YouthWorks crews helped restore Jones State Forest from recent storm damage

Courtesy Photo

CONROE Crews from American YouthWorks helped restore parts of the W.G. Jones State Forest Tuesday, as part of their contribution to assist their community following last week’s damaging storms.

Storms and flooding recently ravaged Houston and areas throughout Southeast Texas, leaving some families to start over and communities to clean up.

Texas A&M Forest Service and American YouthWorks took this time of need as a commencement of their recently forged partnership to provide young adults with real-world opportunities to learn about land management issues and challenges while making a difference.

“Service during times of need is what we do,” Al Davis, Texas A&M Forest Service Director, said in a news release. “It’s uplifting to have a group of young adults step up in recovery roles to help deal with impacts of the recent storms.”

The team comprised of members of both organizations completed forest management and storm restoration work side-by-side, on the Sweet Leaf Trail at Jones State Forest. Crews worked along the Sweetleaf Nature Trailhead on the north side of the forest. They cleared large diameter downed trees, yaupon vegetation 2 – 3 ft. on both sides of trail and created approximately 7 ft. overhead clearance from branches.

“American YouthWorks’ Texas Conservation Corps is excited to partner with Texas A&M Forest Service to connect young people to careers in forestry, natural resource management, wildfire mitigation and disaster relief,” Parc Smith, American YouthWorks Chief Executive Officer, said in the release. “Together we are shaping the future workforce of civic-minded, action-oriented, emerging professionals for Texas.”

The two organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding this spring, that outlined opportunities to employ American YouthWorks crews for conservation and emergency response projects. The goal is to further develop members’ knowledge, skills, and abilities, including, but not limited to invasive species management, wildfire training and mitigation, tree care and planting, and trail management on state lands.

“So, this mission emerged at an opportune time to bring crews in from American YouthWorks to work with our foresters on a timely, real-world restoration project resulting from storms that impacted a lot of people, infrastructure and natural areas,” Davis said.

Tom Helmer, Conservation Corps Director for American YouthWorks helped facilitate the forest restoration mission today. He is dedicated to helping foster the next generation of leaders and conservationists.

“Through on-the-ground projects with our partners, young people are supported with conservation training and career opportunities to make a lasting impact,” Helmer said. “We strive to inspire and develop leaders who will drive positive change in their communities and beyond – and this project with Texas A&M Forest Service restoring the state forest today marks an important first step in our ongoing partnership.”

For more photos from Tuesday, click here.