Test Programs

Youth Conservation Corps operates three programs for youth ages 16 to 24 in Waukegan, North Chicago, Zion and other pockets of poverty within Lake County. Each of our programs meets multiple needs for our community, including educational and employment opportunities for youth, affordable housing and conservation of Lake County’s natural lands.

Two of our programs, YouthBuild and HVAC, are specifically designed to serve young people who have dropped out of high school and face other challenges, such as being low income, ex-offender, homeless, single parents, persons with disabilities, basic skills deficient and/or foster youth. Through our caring staff and our partnerships with other nonprofits, we work to provide our young people with every opportunity they need – and deserve – to rebuild their lives.

YCC YouthBuild

As our core program, YCC YouthBuild equips young people with educational and professional opportunities. Based on a national model, our YouthBuild program is a pathway for young people to lift themselves out of poverty with education, training in sustainable construction work, livable wages and access to affordable housing. Learn more.


Through this advanced program, graduates of our YouthBuild receive an additional 16 weeks of employment and training in HVAC services. Young people have the opportunity to earn higher wages, receive additional vocational training and continue accessing the social support they need. Learn more.

Summer Conservation

As our founding program in 1974, our summer conservation program provides students ages 16 to 18 with paid, 8-week internships in Lake County’s natural areas. Throughout the summer, young people learn and apply environmental conservation, management and preservation techniques. Learn more.

Our Impact

Across our programs, we have:

  • Trained more than 2,000 young adults in educational, vocational and/or life skills
  • Provided more than $250,000 in education scholarships
  • Performed over three quarters of a million hours of community service.