At-risk young adults learn job skills, help sage grouse


Lenita Powers
Reporter, Reno Gazette Journal


- August 07, 2014

The Nevada desert near Austin has become a classroom this week for at-risk young adults who are learning job skills while helping that state’s fragile sage grouse population.

They are members of this year’s crew in the Bootstraps Program.

Now in its 10th year, the award-winning program pays men and women ages 18-25 to work for six months removing pinyon pine and juniper trees to support more favorable habitat for sage grouse as well as a mule deer and other wildlife.

“They get paid $12 to $13 an hour for a 40-hour week, plus room and board,” said Rod Davis, a University of Nevada Cooperative Extension educator in Lander County.

“During the week, they also get room and board,” he said. “The room is a tent and the board is a package of hamburger and noodles.”

Members of the Bootstraps crew learn such basic work ethics as getting to work on time, following directions and civil ways to resolve conflicts with fellow workers or the boss, Davis said.

“But what I’ve found is the most valuable tool is the work itself,” he said. “A lot of these young people don’t have the skills to move forward even if they were offered a job, but they do have the desire to move forward with their lives.”