Francis Mikesh was barely 16 when he signed on for the Civilian Conservation Corps at Fort Snelling in 1936. From there he was sent by train to Cheban, Washington where he spent the next year working in the hills of the state’s northern region. Francis remembers cutting lots of trees to build a road, sawing logs with a bucksaw, picking up rocks behind a bulldozer, building a bridge across a ravine and fighting fire. Though the work was hard, “it was the best place I could be at that age,” he said.
Thomas Hark’s Corps experience stretches back to the federal Youth Conservation Corps, where he served as a crew leader in 1979 in Young Harris, Ga. It was an experience that changed his life. Hark applied to Minnesota’s state youth program a few years later and was hired as the camp director in 1984 and 1985.
Neva Widner’s experience as a corps member in the Conservation Apprenticeship Academy during its inaugural year led to a quick and fortuitous opportunity. Widner served in the Carlton County Soil & Water Conservation District in the summer 2011, working directly with the District’s water resources coordinator. Her service ranged from water quality monitoring to wetland delineations to surveying streams and runoff on farms. Recently, when her former supervisor left Carlton SWCD, Widner was hired to fill the position of Water Resources Technician.