Southern Willamette Valley

Northwest Youth Corps: From the Ground Up

High winds on Labor Day weekend pushed the Holiday Farm Fire through the McKenzie River drainage area, scorching 174,000 acres, driving people from their homes and raising contamination concerns about this pristine watershed, the source of Northwest Youth Corps drinking water for nearly 200,000 people in the Eugene area.

“Donor support allowed us to go in as soon as the smoke cleared, find the highest need and put our kids to it,” says Jeff Parker, executive director of Northwest Youth Corps. Crews first mitigated erosion and the spread of toxins from burned structures, and later seeded and planted for longer-term restoration.

Now in its 37th year, the nonprofit employs 1,000 young people annually in Oregon, Washington and Idaho to build trails, plant trees, eradicate weeds and restore land. Participants develop important skills like teamwork, leadership and conflict resolution.

“Recovery will take time, but we hope our donations will help the healing process for the residents upstream, as well as for the land and the river.”

David and Ann Fidanque
Ann & David Fidanque Family Fund

“Northwest Youth Corps is one of the few programs for getting youth out on the soil, getting their hands dirty and having the camaraderie of working together as a team. I am a believer,” says Tom Bowerman, a Eugene-based donor who supported the organization in 2020 through the Evergreen Hill Education Fund.

Northwest Youth Corps is also helping with wildfire recovery in Douglas County. Both the Betty Lou Roberts Fund and the Crane Creek Family Fund of Oregon Community Foundation have supported these efforts.

Continued donor support will allow Northwest Youth Corps to respond to current and future needs while helping young people develop. “This work has been really meaningful for our participants,” Jeff says. “It has changed their lives.”

Northwest Youth Corps