Conservation Corps Puts 200 Youth to Work in New York State Parks

readMedia Newswire
Friday, August 28, 2009

Department of Labor Funds $3.35M Program

For more information contact: Dan Keefe, 518-486-1868

Conservation Corps Puts 200 Youth to Work in New York State Parks
Department of Labor partnership funds $3.35 million youth job-training program in State Parks; Over 40 Student Conservation Association members removing invasive species, building trails, and restoring habitats in Hudson Valley state parks

ALBANY, NY (08/28/2009)(readMedia)— The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has established a new State Parks Conservation Corps in the park system this summer, which is bringing green-collar job training to nearly 200 young people and making much-needed improvements at 25 state parks and historic sites - including many in the Hudson Valley. The state Department of Labor is providing $3.35 million, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to help create a path to permanent employment for qualified youth ages 16 to 24.

“It’s critical that we provide the young people being hit hardest by the economic downturn with a path to a better future,” Governor Paterson said. “State Parks Conservation Corps members will become skilled in the jobs our state needs to strengthen both the economy and the environment, all while improving the great state park system that New York families can retreat to in these troubled times.”

“From the Civilian Conservation Corps to the Student Conservation Association, New York State Parks has a long tradition of hosting young workers who sharpen their skills and talents in our parks,” State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash said. “The State Parks Conservation Corps will build on this proud tradition, training young workers in emerging ‘green collar’ jobs, helping renew our economy, and making park improvements that our patrons will surely enjoy.”

“Youth are the future of this state, but too many are being left behind in the wake of this economic crisis,” said State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith. “We need to be aggressive in stemming the tide of unemployment among youth, and no one has done more in this regard than Governor Paterson. Just this summer, he announced the creation of 50,000 youth jobs through a combination of stimulus funding and existing resources. The Conservation Corps will build upon these efforts by enhancing the quality of life for hundreds of our youth, while significantly improving our state’s vast park system.”

Crews of 8 to 12 members are being fielded and directed by the Student Conservation Association, a national organization that operates youth conservation corps and green collar training programs. The SCA has many decades of experience in community-based programs that link hands-on learning and job training for diverse urban youth, and currently operates a project with State Parks in the Hudson Valley.

“The SCA exists to build conservation leaders, the stewards of tomorrow,” stated SCA President Dale Penny. “Through this expanded partnership with New York State Parks, together we will protect our precious natural and cultural resources while preparing a new generation to prosper in a green economy. These young people are the key to achieving greater sustainability for our parks, our communities, and our future.”

Work crews began deployment on July 15. Authorized to work through September 30, 2009, up to 200 youth are working on grounds maintenance, trail work, facility upkeep and invasive species control. In the Hudson Valley, there are four crews with over 40 crew leaders and members. The crews have been working on such projects as trail maintenance at Minnewaska State Park, clearing scenic vistas at Rockland Lake State Park, Tallman Mountain State Park and Olana State Historic Site, and building stairs to a trail at the Taconic Outdoor Education Center.

After September 30, 100 members statewide will continue on for another 16 weeks, receiving both classroom-based and on-the-job training in such trades as carpentry, plumbing, electricity and masonry. They will work on new construction, rehabilitation, energy efficiency, weatherization, trail and other projects at parks and historic sites. These corps members will be eligible to transition to positions at State Parks following the training period.

State Parks Conservation Corps work crews have been deployed in seven park regions across the state, including Long Island, New York City, the Taconic and Palisades regions of the Hudson Valley, and the Genesee, Niagara and Allegany regions of western New York.

The Student Conservation Association is a nationwide conservation force of college and high school-aged members who protect and restore America’s parks, forests, refuges, seashores and communities. For more than 50 years, the SCA’s active, hands-on practice of conservation service has helped to develop a new generation of conservation leaders, inspire lifelong stewardship, and save the planet. SCA, a non-profit organization, is headquartered in Charlestown, NH. For more, logon at thesca.org.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com.