The El Ranchito Conservation Corps arrives, helmets on, tools in hand, and with an enthusiastic spirit to create an impact at Westcave Preserve. While the Westcave Conservation team hosts dozens of workdays throughout the year, the teenagers of the El Ranchito Conservation Corps are some of our hardest working volunteers dedicating their summer service in the name of wildlife and land conservation.
This year, the group of tenth through twelfth grade campers accomplished two significant projects: trail maintenance and wooden bench construction. Divided into groups, one team of youth conservationists headed out to the trails for a full day of rock crushing, digging, and shaving down of large rocks that hinder trail maintenance at Westcave Preserve.
The rest of the Conservation Corps campers set up a bench-building workshop using reclaimed redwood. With two benches to build they split into construction teams and raced to completion. It was neck-and-neck as they put in the final screws simultaneously and stood up the benches in sync. A tie was declared in the bench-building race! Sweat, dirt and fun were had by all.
El Ranchito is an outdoor summer camp serving children from urban Austin who may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend a residential nature camp. The nearby Shield Ranch serves as basecamp for this overnight, nature-immersion camping experience. El Ranchito is a project of the Shield Ranch Foundation in collaboration with El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission and Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center.
The focus of the El Ranchito Conservation Corps is to immerse children in nature by living on the land, and learning basic job and environmental skills achieved through working on conservation projects like wood construction and trail maintenance. El Ranchito campers spend their days going on fun, outdoor adventures, reconnecting with nature and learning the value of time spent outdoors.