Student Spotlight



Spencer Dieterich is a recent graduate of Phoenix Charter School who took advantage of a wide range of opportunities for practical and hands-on experiences on campus and beyond. He enjoyed his involvement in Future Business Leaders of America, Applied Culinary and Catering Services, Phoenix Learning Garden, Computer Technology, Roseburg Crossfit, and the Phoenix School Band. Taking part in these diverse opportunities was “a catalyst for personal and professional growth” and kept him on track for graduation.

Throughout all four years of his schooling, Spencer was an active crew member of Phoenix Youth Corps, a program of Oregon Youth Corps (formerly called OYCC). He worked hard during the school year and summer months to enhance campgrounds, trails, and wildlife habitat on public lands administered by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

By building upon his work ethic, communication, and problem-solving skills outdoors, he discovered a passion for civic engagement and environmental stewardship, which led to his decision to pursue a career in Natural Resources Management.

With this career goal in mind his senior year, Spencer became engaged in Phoenix’s Early College program and started his journey  in higher education with a College Readiness course. Spencer is currently studying full-time at Umpqua Community College with the use of scholarship funds he received through his involvement with Phoenix Youth Corps, along with an education award he received from the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Spencer recently applied for a local USFS internship with the Tiller Ranger District, and he ”looks forward to learning more about how to conserve nature for the future.”

Story by Eric Stauder, Phoenix YouthCorps Program Coordinator,  02-21-2020


Late winter 2016, Lillian was a 16-year-old junior at Phoenix Charter School  and just finishing her first college course at Umpqua Community College (UCC). As a member of the school’s Early College program, Lillian spent a few days a week at UCC taking Psychology 101. “I was struggling to make friends then and had a lot of anxiety but I wanted to figure out a plan.” With the assistance of an AmeriCorps member at the school, Lillian was mentored through her first term and got an ‘A’ in her class.

Lillian also was a member of the school’s Oregon Youth Conservation Corps (OYCC) program and her crew leader, Chris Roe, encouraged her to apply for the summer program working with the tech crews. “I was nervous but I wanted more experience and thought the idea of working outside would be good since I like nature.”  The program begins recruitment in the winter so the students hired can register for Field Botany and Wilderness Survival courses during the spring term at UCC and be prepared for the demanding monitoring projects in remote and undeveloped areas of our public lands.  All students hired receive a tuition waiver from UCC and a local non-profit, Umpqua Watersheds, sponsors all the students’ course fees.

The Field Botany course culminates with a weeklong tour of SW Oregon and northern California in order for students to perform the lab practicum piece of the course. The class tours all the national parks in the region and identify plants in several different biomes. All tech crew members hired for the OYCC crews attended the trip and got a head-start on learning about one another. For Lillian, it was a new experience to leave home for a week but ultimately worth it. “I met really great people and heard about their experiences and their career choices. Other teenagers made it good for me. We saw amazing things!”

Two days later after returning from the trip, OYCC work began. Lillian’s crew would be learning and performing timber stand exams in the USFS Umpqua National Forest for five weeks. “I got to really know a certain group of people and it was fun because we were all so pumped up about the tree surveys.” The crew worked with a variety of community members to assist them with their projects. Retired Roseburg Forest Products forester Mike Bormuth and retired USFS silviculturist Don Morrison directly assisted with training the crew. “Lillian was amazing in the woods. I was so surprised to learn she was so young. I was greatly impressed with her maturity,” recalled Don during project debriefing after the summer.

When interviewed to describe the past summer, Lillian who is now a 17-year-old part-time UCC student and singer in the school’s rock band, had a no problem describing the transition the program allowed her. “My shell cracked open. I feel I became more brave, more myself. I think a lot more kids should get into it. I think summer crew makes kids inspired to do other things. Find their thing or whatever.”

Story by Thomas McGregor, Chief Operations Officer, 10-21-2016


Raymond, is a 17 year old Senior at Phoenix Charter School. He entered the school his freshman year. He never liked math and had never had a job before. He knew if he had been given a chance, he would give his 100%. When he heard of Phoenix Youth Corps, a program of Oregon Youth Conservation Corps (OYCC), he thought it would finally be his chance for a first job and “a good stepping stone.” He liked how he “could help out and make our ecosystem a little bit better.”

He enjoyed OYCC as a way to make friends and have fun while working. There were two different crew leads and he learned bosses can have two different approaches. It took time but he adjusted. He enrolled in Summer Conservation Corps that year because he “needed stuff to do and it kept him out of trouble.”

Now as a junior Raymond has a plan help his crew leaders this summer. He wants to make sure they train people to properly lift things. Also, he feels we could do better with warm-up activities. He has been attending Roseburg CrossFit while at Phoenix School and learned many things.

He is excited about his senior year for the opportunity to attend classes at Umpqua Community College a part of Phoenix’s Early College Program. Raymond wants to study anatomy and become an expert in physical fitness. “I hope to be a trainer at CrossFit or somewhere else. I already have a couple certifications. I want to train different people and help create routines.” Raymond is scheduled to work two days a week with OYCC and two days a week at the CrossFit gym.

“OYCC helps you…they will tell you, show you. They put you on a job by yourself when they know you’re good. I was trusted to use power tools and it was a big confidence boost.”

Story by Thomas McGregor, Career & Technical Education Program Coordinator,  08-12-2015