YHCC at Yellowwood State Forest

Josh McAnelly

Mathew McArthur

Jacob Schultz

Ben Sheehan

Zeb Kelp

Indiana’s state forests offer an opportunity to stroll through natural, hardwood resources in their indigenous environment.

Our forests are valuable in a commercial sense as well. We wake up in wooden houses and roll out of our wooden beds. We walk across wooden floors to sit on wooden chairs at wooden desks writing on paper made from wood. We are surrounded by the advantages of wood, a renewable resource.

At Yellowwood State Forest, a number of Young Hoosiers Conservation Corps workers are learning the value of forests from seed to saw. Josh McAnelly, 20, of Brown County; Mathew McArthur, 23, of Unionville; Jacob Schultz, 19, of Beanblossom; Ben Sheehan, 24, of Unionville; and Zeb Kelp, 19, of Nashville, have spent the summer working under the state forest's vast canopy.

Sheehan, a senior studying resource management at Indiana University, said, “I heard about the YHCC through school, and immediately thought ‘wow, what an opportunity to gain first hand experience, close to home.’”

With only an internship left to complete before graduating, Sheehan said he is excited about being able to complete his course work locally.

“The YHCC provided me an opportunity to network within Indiana’s forestry department. Now I’ll be doing my senior internship here at Yellowwood. Being able to complete an internship right here at home, doing exactly what I want to do―study forest environments―is an amazing opportunity. I’m very thankful,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan’s IU classmate, co-worker for the YHCC and friend, Matt McArthur, also said he appreciates the opportunity to expand upon what he has learned in the classroom with hands-on field work.

“We’ve spent a lot of time removing invasive species, clearing forest habitat, and preparing areas for logging," McArthur said. "I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to properly manage a forest.”

Schultz's case is different. He isn’t in college. He’s busy helping keep food on the table and a roof over his family.

“I’m living with my mom, my brother, and my niece right now," Schultz said. "We’re all pitching in and doing what we can. It’s pretty tough right now.”

At 19, Schultz is fairly new to life after high school, and said he hasn’t yet figured out what he plans to do with his life.

Monte Summers is a Brown County general contractor who was hired as a DNR intermittent employee for the summer to help coordinate the YHCC workers at Yellowwood. He is a skilled carpenter who has spent much of his life building structures around the county, and getting to know “his people.”

One project the Yellowwood YHCC workers have been working on this summer is completing a new, large shop building behind the property's office. Fittingly, the structure has been stick built out of wood.

“This program has given me an opportunity not only to teach these young men about boards and nails, but also to try to help instill in them a mentality of sustenance, Summers said, "skills that may help them in their futures.

"I assume one or two of these fellas are going to end up in the trades. And finding a job right now isn’t so easy, so they have to have the right thought process to stand out from the crowd. That’s what I’m trying to help them with most.”

No matter whether these YHCC workers end up on the seed end or the saw end of working with wood, or somewhere else, many of the lessons and skills they acquired this summer should remain valuable.