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Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-PLAY (7529)

Fax: 503-823-6007

1120 SW Fifth Ave., Suite 1302, Portland, OR 97204

Youth Conservation Crew




View the 2015 Report.

The Youth Conservation Crew provides summer employment opportunities for a diverse population of Portland-area youth, ages 14-18. Crews protect, restore, and manage Portland's parks and natural areas while developing essential job skills and exploring environmental career paths.

During the summer of 2015, teens worked at 51 sites citywide and accomplished the following:

        • Removed 45,901 square feet of ivy and 3,342 square feet of invasive blackberry, thereby saving trees and increasing biodiversity
        • Built 144 linear feet of split rail fence
        • Maintained 6.5 miles of trails and built 500 linear feet of new trail
        • Built 60 feet of rock retaining wall, 19 wood stairs, 2 switchbacks and 20 x 5 foot high wood crib wall
        • Taught 1,119 children and adults about urban ecology and conservation
        • Established 544 schoolyard trees by pruning, watering and weeding 

Applying for work with the Youth Conservation Crew  

  • Age eligibility: 14-18
  • An application will be on this website starting in December; applications are due in May
  • A pool of applicants will be selected for interviews.  Employees from previous years must reapply each summer
  • IMPORTANT!  Parents & guardians: please read this!

Get a head start on your application

You must include a letter of recommendation from an adult for your application to be complete.  You can ask any non-family member (examples: teacher, coach, employer, counselor, volunteer or club coordinator, or even a neighbor) to write you a recommendation letter that describes your unique strengths.  The letter should be addressed "To the Future Employer of [Your Name]," and the mentor can give the letter directly to you.  We hope that you will keep a copy of the letter to submit with other job applications you turn in over the next few years.  It is becoming somewhat common for a job applicant to attach a letter of recommendation or two to their application, even if it is not required.  It makes a big impression!

What do we do?  Teens are hired to be a part of one of the following crews:

          • The No Ivy League (NIL) restores the native habitat of Portland's natural areas with efforts in removing invasive plants. The NIL removes ground ivy as well as ivy growing up native trees, effectively saving the tree from premature death.
  • The Tree Crew works alongside City of Portland arborists and high climbers learning proper pruning techniques, maintaining the health of Portland's urban canopy, and increasing the safety of park patrons. The YCC Tree Establishment Crew works in Portland parks and on Portland Public School properties as part of PP&R's Neighborhood Tree Steward Program.
  • The Trail Crew builds and maintains trails in Portland's natural areas. Using industry accepted techniques for sustainable trail maintenance, the crew focuses on reducing erosion entering Portland's rivers, streams, and water bodies by improving grading and drainage, improving stream crossings, and closing unofficial trails.
  • The Teen Naturalist Team (TNT) is the education arm of the YCC. Bolstered by a love of nature and a passion for educating people about the environment, TNT educators teach environmental science and lead activities for children age 6-12 in SUN School and community summer day camps in the Portland area. They also don't shy away from teaching teens and adults!

For more information, contact YCC Coordinator Kelly Rosteck at 503-823-3601 or

Parents - Read This First!

Letter to parents whose teens are applying for the Youth Conservation Crew Program