In History class last week, students learned about the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which was started in 1933 during the Great Depression when unemployment in the U.S. reached 25%. In northern Wisconsin, unemployment was as high as 50%. Students were inspired to learn that the young men who worked for the CCC planted nearly 3 billion trees and constructed new trails in more than 800 parks nationwide. They learned that the CCC wasn’t just about moving stones; it was about building hope and self-worth. It was about moving people to feel a sense of ownership.
The young men in the CCC earned $30 a month for their labor and $25 of their monthly pay was sent home to their parents. Conserve School students hiked out to Lake Elaine to build a trail for free. Sorry mom and dad, only stories and smiles for you. Four students shared their thoughts before the work began, and afterward shared their reflections.
~ Donelle Scaffidi, Graduate Fellow
Randa: “I don’t know what to expect, but I like doing things that make me dirty.”
Cody: “I think the work we do today will be beneficial for future Conserve School students.”
Michelle: “I’m really excited, it will be super fun. I’ve never done it before, but it will be cool to learn something new and learn how to use the tools.”
Espoir: “I’m super pumped! It’s cool to follow in the footsteps of history.”
“I’m sweaty! I had fun working on the trail and when I stopped and turned around to look, it was really satisfying to know that the trail will be there for a long time for people to enjoy. Oh, and never work in skinny jeans.” – Randa
“Trail building is hard work but now I know it’s worth it for everyone who comes to visit in the future.” – Cody
“I really enjoyed the work. It was so satisfying to get the big rocks out and to
know how much people will appreciate the trail even if they don’t know who did
it. It will be nice to come back and visit and know that it was our trail.” – Michelle
“Well that was really cool, I feel like a lumberjack. It was kind of hard cutting out
big tree roots even though I know the tree will be okay. Now others can enjoy
the wilderness without bushwhacking in.” – Espoir