Youth Conservation Corps is a non-profit organization committed to providing Lake County’s young people with education, certification programs and career development to build skills for life.

In the majority of our programs, YCC serves youth 16-24 years old who have dropped out of high school and face other challenges, such as being low income, homeless, single parents, persons with disabilities, basic skills deficient and/or foster youth. Our young people are from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and live within Waukegan, North Chicago, Zion, and other pockets of poverty within Lake County.

Through our hands-on job skills training, GED courses and other career readiness work, we empower these young people to get back on track, gain self-worth and develop lifelong skills to achieve their goals.

Our Vision

Our Mission

Every teenager or young adult has a pathway to success, regardless of life circumstances

Guide and mentor young adults using education, job skills training and community service to help develop productive citizens.

See how we enact our vision and mission through our programs.


Youth Conservation Corps began in 1974 as a program for high school youth to offer hands-on conservation work on public lands with environmental education. Learn more.


We are an independent 501(c)3, sustained by public grants, individuals and private foundations. Learn more.

Awards and Honors

  • HERO Award/The Fuller Center for Housing
  • City of Waukegan resolution recognizing YCC’s volunteer clean-up efforts at the Carnegie Building
  • Illinois Congressman Robert Dold announcement ‘s of Dept. of Labor grant recipient
  • YouthBuild USA Solidarity Award
  • YouthBuild USA Outstanding Achievement in Academic Testing Advancement
  • Illinois Governor’s Home Town Award for Community Development
  • National Association of Service and Conservation Corps’ Exemplary Conservation Project Award
  • Illinois Park and Recreation Association’s Community Service Award
  • National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials Friends of Park and Recreation Award
  • Illinois Park and Recreation Association Award of Merit for the YCC Conservation Program
  • Nature of Illinois Foundation The Gaylord Donnelley Award for Dedication and Energy in Conservation Service
  • National Association of County Organizations Achievement Award for Community Service