Staff from Creston National Fish Hatchery in Kalispell, Montana, and employees of the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) Natural Resources Department (NRD), from the Flathead Reservation in Montana are gearing up to kick off the Northwest Montana Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program for the 2011 summer season. The official start date for the Northwest Montana Youth Conservation Corps is June 13th. This will be the second year for this eight-week program sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fisheries and Habitat Conservation Program, Creston National Fish Hatchery, CSKT NRD and Salish Kootenai College.

Twelve tribal youths and three Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) students will be hired to assist CSKT NRD resource conservation projects on tribal and Federal managed lands in northwest Montana. The STEP students will serve as crew leaders and work side by side with the youths on a variety of landscape-based conservation deliveries. The students hired for this eight-week program will gain a wide range of work experience to further develop job enhancement skills. The project includes two weeks at the Creston National Fish Hatchery where they will learn fish production methods, fish biology and the role of hatchery propagation to achieve fishery management objectives. For the remaining six weeks the youths will work on the Flathead Reservation conducting projects that will protect important wildlife habitats and increase their appreciation for the value of wildlife.

As part of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, the Northwest Montana Native Youth Conservation Corps Program offers service-based learning opportunities to tribal youth, both on tribal lands and off, at facilities like Creston National Fish Hatchery.

“The Service initiated the program last summer and it was a huge success. The YCC youth quickly became good friends, learned valuable work skills and gained a unique appreciation for the great outdoors. Creston National Fish Hatchery is excited to be able to repeat this beneficial program and look forward to providing another class of youths with an outstanding outdoor experience” said Mark Maskill, Creston Hatchery manager.

Amanda Berens, STEP hire with Creston National Fish Hatchery said, “I feel extremely lucky to have been a youth hire in the very first Northwest Montana Tribal YCC Program. It was an experience I’ll always look back on with great memories and it has helped me immensely in my journey to become a wildlife biologist. Coming back this year as a student leader is quite an honor and also a challenge I’m looking forward to. I hope to help this year’s new hires discover the great love and respect for the environment that this program promotes.”

This Fisheries and Habitat Conservation sponsored program enhances YCC students’ understanding of resource conservation by engaging the youths in the protection and restoration of the fish and wildlife populations. In so doing, the program encourages the next generation of leaders in natural resource conservation.

For more information on the Creston National Fish Hatchery, Salish Kootenai College and Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes Northwest Montana Youth Conservation Corps Program, please contact Mark Maskill at 406-758-6868.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page at, follow our tweets at, watch our YouTube Channel at and download photos from our Flickr page at


Mark Maskill: 406.758.6868;

Denise Wagner: 405.635.4784;

Leith Edgar: 303.236.4588;

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