Laguna Atascosa seeks teen workers for paid summer jobs

HARLINGEN — Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is looking for some hard-working Valley teenagers for a summer jobs program.

The benefits may be mostly educational, but the pay for this hard nature work is real.

The paid program is called the Youth Conservation Corps and refuge officials are looking to employ a half-dozen applicants between the ages of 15 and 18 for up to 10 weeks.

“You get your feet wet in conservation work, and it just kind of paves the road for those kids who have an interest in doing something with the Fish and Wildlife Service or any other conservation agency,” said Chris Quezada, visitor services park ranger at Laguna Atascosa.

The summer program at Laguna is for local student workers, who will receive minimum wage for up to eight hours of work a day and 40 per week. They will commute to the refuge or job site each morning and return home at night beginning in June.

The work will reflect much of what full-time U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff do at the refuge, building and repairing trails, removing invasive species, assisting with wildlife research projects and more.

The application deadline is May 10, and potential youth corps workers need to apply online first at and then contact Quezada at the refuge or by email at

“The application is online and they’ll fill it out,” Quezada said. “There’s a portion in there this year that asks ‘Why do you want to be a part of YCC?’ And it’s just a short essay of about 250 words to express your interest in the Youth Conservation Corps. From there we select six applicants.”

For teenagers interested in the outdoors and conservation work, Quezada said the refuge will be reaching out today to schools in Los Fresnos, Port Isabel and Rio Hondo to answer any questions about the program teens may have.

“We’re going to be out at Los Fresnos, Port Isabel and Rio Hondo, which are our immediate local communities,” Quezada said. “We’ll do a little bit of outreach and cover some Q-and-A on anything the students have about this program.”

Who is eligible?

• Be at least 15 years of age at the start of enrollment and must not reach age 19 before completion of the program

• Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States

• Provide or be able to obtain a work permit as required under the laws of the applicant’s home state

• Provide a valid U.S. Social Security number or have made application for a number

• Be able to fulfill the essential functions of the assigned work with or without a reasonable accommodation

• Be actively committed and willing to complete the assigned work project

What’s the work?

• Construct and repair trails at Laguna Atascosa NWR

• Preserve and repair historic buildings

• Remove invasive species

• Assist with wildlife, land research

• Lead environmental education programs

• Support agency staff

• Pay is minimum wage

• Up to eight hours per day, 40 per week

• Commute to job sites daily

• Deadline to apply is May 10

• Apply here:

• Then contact