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  • Writer's pictureRyan Mello

Youth Conservation Corps visits ESRGC

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Every summer students ages 15 to 18 participate in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge's (NWR) Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program. The YCC program at Blackwater NWR lasts 8 weeks, running mid-June through mid-August. YCC recruits work 40 hours a week and are paid minimum wage. Throughout the program the students will work on various projects at Blackwater NWR but also attend several field trips. The YCC recruits visited the ESRGC office to learn about various projects, participate in a hands-on data collection exercise and a lesson on drones.

ESRGC Project Manager Ryan Mello led an introduction on GIS and a project rundown of what ESRCG staff work on, on a daily basis. Afterwards Ryan led the YCC recruits on a tour of the rest of the Salisbury University Downtown building. The students were able to see the Salisbury University Art Gallery along with the Dave and Patsy Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship

Next, ESRGC intern, Nick Dent introduced the YCC recruits to Field Maps and tasked them with collecting photos and data on tree plantings along Main St. in Downtown Salisbury. ArcGIS Field Maps is an all-in-one app that uses maps and mobile forms to help workers perform data capture, locate assets, and collect information using real-time locations. The students were able to independently collect data for each tree offline. Data collected included overall condition of the tree, estimated tree height, along with the pavement temperature compared to the shaded tree temperature. Each student was able to take a photo of each tree to link with the data. After the data collection was compete the students reconvened and were able to visualize all of the points they collected in a web map created by Nick (Downtown Salisbury Tree Field Map). Each point was automatically generated in the web map once the students connected to wi-fi. Nick wrapped up the lesson by leading the students in a discussion of beneficial uses for this data.

The YCC visit was capped off by a drone tutorial and demo led by the the City of Salisbury's GIS Analyst, Kyla Cupp. The recruits discussed practical drone uses as Kyla walked them through the requirements needed to become a drone pilot and create a flight plan. Kyla showcased 2 drones for the students. The first, a DJI Air 2S flew a pre-programmed route to collect imagery of the Downtown Salisbury lot. Kyla then allowed the students hands-on experience with the Mavic 3. Each YCC recruit was given time to fully drive the drone and collect aerial photos within their sightlines.

Drone images above were collected by the YCC recruits.


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