The teens are members of the North Caroline Youth Conservation Corps (NCYCC) and have been literally mending fences at six state parks as well as building trails, improving campsites, repairing facilities and pulling out invasive plants. Similar teams are at work for public agencies in the Salisbury area and in the Triangle.
“We are delighted to get more young people connected to our state parks,” said Carol Tingley, deputy director for the state parks system. “The Youth Conservation Corps offers young people an outstanding opportunity to learn about our state’s treasured natural resources while they work to preserve our state parks’ recreation opportunities, natural scenery and wildlife habitat.”
One crew of eight has been working at Carolina Beach and Cliffs of the Neuse state parks and Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, with the second crew working at Stone Mountain and Pilot Mountain state parks and Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. In most cases, the teens are camping at the parks (though Hurricane Arthur did drive them into the visitor center at Carolina Beach for a night).
The NCYCC is sponsored primarily by the Conservation Trust for North Carolina and participating agencies. The program uses the natural world as a platform for teaching job and leadership skills, service, stewardship and personal responsibility. Crews work eight hours a day, five days a week and are paid minimum wage. Each workday includes a one-hour educational program on conservation and social topics.
“The NCYCC is built on the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC),” said Jan Pender, director. “Like those who served in the CCC decades ago, NCYCC crew members learn valuable job skills as they work on high quality and cost effective projects that expand public access to our state’s public lands.”
That’s fitting since the CCC is credited with creating much of the early state parks system in North Carolina beginning in the 1930s. Through CCC projects, five state parks were added to the two that existed at that time.
This is the second year of NCYCC involvement in the parks and its role has been much expanded. In 2013, crews did construction and maintenance on the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail and removed invasive species at Eno River State Park.