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2020 is a very special year for Rocky Mountain Youth Corps as we embark on 25 years of service. We want to take this very special time to highlight a very important group of individuals who have made this all possible, our alumni. Throughout this year we will be highlighting one member from each year of service (1995-2020) who have served with us and continue to make a difference in their communities.

#25yearsofmakingadifference

2001 – Amber Ohlinger, Director at Los Angelitos, early intervention for ages 0-3 in Taos County

How did the Corps get you where you are today? “I did the After School Program and got a lot of early experience working with children. Working with this program and RMYC was my first intro to working with children and led to a college degree in early childhood development and where I implement that in my career now.”

What your funniest/most memorable memory at RMYC? “When I was a member we went to Las Cruces for a conference and we got exposed to so many different things that I had never been exposed to. We did ice breakers, trainings, and so much more. It has laid the foundation for everything I have encountered and the foundation that builds as you become a working professional. I get to see the kids I tutored in the After School Program now having children and working with them as parents and working with their children, it has become a full cycle!”

What is a word of advice for a current member? “I would share the idea of keeping an open mind, and knowing that each of these experiences that you get to have are going to build to the next step in your life. From trainings that seemed out of our comfort zone just remember if you keep an open mind it helps lay that foundation.”

2000 – Sage Polchies, Fire Engine Operator (FEO) for Carson National Forrest

How did the Corps get you where you are today? Working at the corps gave me the opportunity to know what outdoor work was like. It also gave me the opportunity to work as a team and know what that is like in terms of trying to get projects done as a crew”

What your funniest/most memorable memory at RMYC? “My most memorable moment at the corps was taking a picture on top of Gavilion trail with my crew. I still have that picture to this day!”

What is a word of advice for a current member? “Be open to learning new things in life!”

1999 – Naomi Concha, Taos Pueblo Youth Outreach Coordinator

How did the Corps get you where you are today? “It was one of my fist jobs, I was 16 when I first started with RMYC and did the after school program as well as the summer program. I developed a good work ethic and earned two scholarships to pursue my education. Through this experience I was able to get the feel for being in the work field and have kept a job every since. The RMYC experience kick started my experience in the workforce especially in education and being able to work with students propelled me to stay in field of working with youth. I found my niche working with youth through my experience with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps”

What your funniest/most memorable memory at RMYC? “It was all around a great experience for being first experience in work force. There is no job like it, it was fun, active,and an experience being and working with kids as well as being with friends and creating life long relationships.”

What is a word of advice for a current member? “I still encourage students to sign up for the corps, especially with the help of the education award that they would receive.A word of advice would be to stick with it, follow through and see where it leads you and work towards that scholarship I never thought working with RMYC point me in direction of working with youth and 20 years later I’m still doing it.”

1998 – Dwayne Lefthand, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps Taos Pueblo Program Conservation Coordinator

How did the Corps get you where you are today? “It provided me the education award that opened door to go to school.Through this program I was able to work on many different projects that required many different skills within our community like working on the trail around Kit Carson Park, weatherization, building hornos and even having the opportunity as a member to go to Washington D.C to speak on behalf of conservation programming on a national level. I was always interested in natural resources and fire and it was that stepping stone that gave me the opportunity to advance into my choice and career of fire and conservation”

What your funniest/most memorable memory at RMYC? “A memorable moment was when my crew and I went and removed vigas by hand out in Lama. What really stood out was the team work that came from moving these huge vigas and dropping, rolling them especially all by hand.”

What is a word of advice for a current member? “Have an open mind and open heart. Take criticism with grain of salt because the people who work here provide support to grow and in a team and with an open mind that can take you a long way with a lot of options and the friends and people you meet are resources you may need later in life.”

1997 – Tony Struck, Town of Taos Recreational Director

How did the Corps get you where you are today? “Being at the Corps had a significant role in where I am today and Carl played a huge role in getting me out of the street. I was apart of the service learning crew which included working in classrooms as reading buddies, the afterschool program and working with youth in general which has led me to the path of working with youth through my current role”.

What your funniest/most memorable memory at RMYC? “One of the funniest moments was working out in Questa at Eagle Rock Lake and we actually threw a fellow member in the water, all out of good fun”

What is a word of advice for a current member? “We are all responsible for our choices and the blame for where we are at in life. The person in the mirror is responsible for where you want to be in life. Carl helped instill this mindset in my life and those words changed by life and made a difference”

1996 – Jason Struck, Mechanical Contractor, plumbing and gas fitting

How did the Corps help you get where you are today? “It put me out of my comfort zone all the different situations and experiences. It has all brought me to where it has benefited me now”

What was your most memorable moment at the corps? “Through my experience we did it all. We had contractors that came out and were teachers from the field, working along side and teaching us skills. We did everything, forestry, parks,building,restoring hiking trails, got involved with UNM, worked with kids in the classrooms about gangs and sharing stuff we went through. We had fun and and had a good time learning and growing”

What is a word of advice for a current member? “Stick with it! All the stuff that they teach you that you learn in the field and out is all an opportunity. Don’t take is as a paycheck or joke take it as a life experience.”

1995 – Brent Vigil, Operations Supervisor for ABQ Convention Center

How did the Corps help you get where you are today?”It broadened my horizons and opened up a whole new world in terms of jobs and experiences from forestry to even working with kids. My son even did a season recently with the corps.Being apart of the first crew we would talk about this new beginning and how it was the start of something huge and the fact that it has makes me so proud to be apart of it all”  

What was your funniest/ most memorable experience at RMYC?“Camping in Lama was nice to be around people and learn about everyone. Being the first year it was an experience for us all. It was hands on work and experiences with different individuals. The memories that were created from working to eating bagels by the campfire, I didn’t even like bagels before working there. The hands on aspect is what was the best part of it all”

What is a word of advice for a current RMYC member?“Stay strong! It’s a wide world out there and there are many ways to fall apart but if you stay strong, there is nothing you can’t do”