• 36°

YCC crew will visit state park

James River State Park will host a Virginia State Parks Youth Conservation Corps crew (YCC) through July 16.

Youth crews consist of 10 young people, ages 14-17 from diverse backgrounds, and three college-age or older crew leaders. The program combines work experience, education and life skills development within the framework of environmental and community service.

The primary purpose of the Virginia State Parks YCC is twofold:  It is aimed at youth development and it is a cost-effective way to raise environmental awareness and complete necessary projects in the park.

This program offers youth an opportunity to live away from home in a park setting under the supervision of dedicated, relatable mentors. By day, the crews carry out priority park projects. After hours, they bond as a team through interpretive environmental programs, cooking, cleaning and sharing meals together.

In the 1970s the Federal government supported a youth conservation corps in Virginia but as the funding dried up the program ended. Virginia State Parks revamped the program in 2000 as a way to reach high school age youth.

Since then, approximately 2,500 youth have participated in the program. The program could also be considered a stepping stone into employment for some of the Virginia State Parks staff.

Four former graduates of the current program now work full time for Virginia State Parks and Director Craig Seaver participated in the federally sponsored program in his youth.