The Youth Conservation Corps Program is held twice in the summer, and it's an opportunity for teenagers to help spruce up state parks.
Kim Griffiths, a college student from Richmond, says, "we have a bunch of girls who apply who are in high school to be crew members. And usually the supervisors are in college or graduated high school. And we just help conserve the parks, whatever projects they need done, we help them finish it."
Right now at Sky Meadows, the girls are helping prevent storm runoff from flooding in the parking lot, plus they are building a walkway to the information kiosk.
Griffiths adds, "there's a trench that we're building here for pipes for the water to go through."
They're also building a fence. The goal of the program is to promote youth development across a diverse group of teens from at-risk youth to college-bound students. Crew members stay overnight here for 3 weeks in the park's guest bunkhouse.
Lindsey Mongan, a high school freshman from Mt. Vernon, says, "it's fun. We all have our own little bunks, and we're on our own together. So, I mean, we're kind of like a little family. It's fun cause, I mean, we just met each other a few days ago, so it's really good to get to know these girls."
During the week the stick to a strict schedule of waking up at 6:30 a.m. and going to bed at 10 p.m. On the weekends they get the opportunity to explore the area outside of the park.
Erin Brockmann, Sky Meadows Chief Ranger of Visitor Services says, "this program is really great for both the girls and for the park. We get 3 weeks worth of hard working, energetic youth doing projects that we don't frankly have the manpower to do all on our own. And we get something, we know we always get quality work out of the girls. And it's something that will last, and it fills a need in the park."
At the end, they will receive a $500 stipend for successfully completing the program. Some of the YCC graduates even come back to work in state parks.
"I love coming. It's so pretty, and just like watching the sunsets and the sunrises, just being here. It's fun, and so I like trying to help out and conserve the parks," says Mongan.
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