Skip to main content

Steamboat Magazine

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps Turns 30

09/08/2023 07:05AM ● By Eugene Buchanan
(Photography Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps)

Steamboat Springs, CO - Rocky Mountain Youth Corps celebrates its 30th year in 2023, continuing its award-winning tradition of engaging youth in the outdoors while linking community, education and environment through service. RMYC, housed in a 4,300 square foot headquarters on a 3.4 acre campus in Steamboat Springs, has served more than 13,000 youth (and 250,000 PBJs) in its three decades of service, including more than 5,000 through its Yampa Valley Science School program. The nonprofit’s “A Toast to Trails & Tales” 30th anniversary celebration on Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Steamboat Grand Hotel will also honor founder Gretchen Van De Carr, who is retiring after 30 years in January 2024. 

“It’s a huge milestone, and one we’re very proud of,” says Gretchen, who is also the CEO. She credits her staff and board for the nonprofit’s resounding success, which includes a $7 million annual operating budget. “Our dedicated, passionate and competent staff and board members have allowed us to successfully grow our program capacity and impact steadily for these past three decades. I am so proud to be working with so many incredible people over the years.”

RMYC crews and natural resource interns perform such services as community cleanups; planting and watering trees; building and maintaining hundreds of trails for hiking, biking and equestrian use; rerouting and maintaining trails on 10 Colorado 14ers and 250 miles of the Continental Divide Trail; GIS programming; hydrology and archaeology projects; felling and removing beetle kill hazard trees from 2,500 acres of public and private lands to reduce wildfire risk; and, this year, tripling its fire crew program, including an all ladies crew, to help mitigate fire fuels and fight fires on BLM and USFS land.

In addition, RMYC’s Historic Preservation Crews, in partnership with public lands and local historic preservation agencies, have worked to preserve such local iconic structures as the Yock Homestead of the More Barn, Hahn’s Peak Fire Lookout Tower and Diamond Window Cabin, as well as Granite Creek Cabin and White Grass Ranch in Grand Teton National Park. And its newest program—Natural Resource Internships, which started in 2016 with just eight interns—has grown to more than 110 this year.

RMYC also fosters civic engagement, with a recent survey showing participants are more likely to engage in civic and community service after their tenure. Members complete the program with greater assets for healthy and productive lifestyles, heightened self-esteem, resiliency and job skills, and a greater sense of responsibility for self, community and the environment. RMYC’s programs also save crucial federal and state land management agency funding: a National Park Service study finds employing youth corps to complete projects generates a 71 percent cost savings. RMYC also stimulates the local economy with more than $1 million in annual spending on supplies, materials and vehicles, while providing more than $4 million in wages and benefits to its 15 senior level employees, seasonal staff, and paid corps members and interns. It has also provided AmeriCorps Education Awards to more than 2,200 members, totaling $3.5 million.

Ringing in its 30th anniversary, RMYC is building its long-term financial sustainability for its next 30 years through two primary efforts: building its endowment fund held at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation to $3.75 million by 2025; and a major capital project—in 2024 RMYC will begin construction on $4.5 million in improvements, including a 6,860 square foot office building and pavilion for its year-round staff and converting its existing offices and headquarters into dormitory-style employee housing for its long-term field coordinators and crew leaders.

"We’ve come a long, long way in 30 years,” says board president Frank Mayer. "This anniversary is an amazing achievement that would not have been possible without the incredible support of our local community and stakeholders including our staff, partners, donors, board of directors and the vision and leadership from our founder and CEO, Gretchen Van De Carr.”

To celebrate its milestone, RMYC is hosting a 30th anniversary celebration — “A Toast to Trails & Tales” — on Saturday, September 30,, from 4:30 –9 p.m. at the Steamboat Grand Hotel, with a “Tour Through Time” happy hour, dinner, live auction and tales from alumni, followed by a bubbly toast to 30 years.

Info and tickets: