The Appalachian Mountain Club works with Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), providing summer work opportunities to North Country students. Students learn about trail stewardship and conservation, and gain practical job skills. Cory Arsenault and Samantha Roux were part of a crew doing trail work.
Roux says the trail work is intensive and demanding, “building rock staircases, bridges. We clean the trail
off for people.”
Maintaining clean and useable trails is as much about keeping hikers safe as it is important for the health of the mountain. Arsenault says this maintenance means that, “people will stay on the trails instead of wandering around in the woods and damaging the forest.”
Teamwork is essential in this type of work, as the students quickly learn how dangerous some of the situations can be. “Let’s say we’re moving a rock,” says Roux. “We all have to communicate with each other to try to get that rock out together.” A lapse in focus could easily result in injury with a large rock rolling down the mountain.
It’s easy to see that the students take great pride in the work they do on the trail. But for Roux, “its more than just getting paid. It’s character building.”
Arsenault, for whom this is his first job, has learned the value of a hard day’s work. But it’s also taught him to, “appreciate the work other people do for you.”
And it doesn’t hurt the resume, either. Says Arsenault, “it would be a lot more difficult for us to get jobs in the future if we didn’t have work with the JAG program.”