Va. State Park Program Named Best in the Nation

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July 23, 2010

The Virginia State Parks Youth Conservation Corps has been named the Outstanding State Volunteer Program in the United States by the Take Pride in America program.

The award was presented by Robert Stanton, senior advisor to Secretary Ken Salazar and a former director of the National Park Service, and Lisa Young, director of Take Pride America.

“Virginia State Parks have received many accolades over the years, from awards honoring facilities and amenities to being recognized as the best managed state park system in the United States,” said DCR Director David Johnson. “This award recognizes the hard work and contributions of nearly 1,000 young people and staff who made this program so successful.”

Fashioned after the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, the YCC is a summer program for young volunteers between the ages of 14-17. Working in crews of approximately 10 volunteers and three college-age supervisors, the young people each contribute between 120 and 180 hours of service.

Participants work in state parks across Virginia on a variety of conservation projects including trail and campground maintenance, construction, fence building, tree planting, noxious weed removal and fish habitat improvement. Program projects are designed to foster teamwork, self-esteem, social responsibility and respect for the environment, said Gaston Rouse, State Parks director of volunteer services.

“These youngsters are the future of the Commonwealth and the future of America,” Rouse said. “Volunteering is one of the most important facets of adult life, and we need to incorporate that into the lives of our children.”

In 2007, the YCC program received the Virginia Governor’s Best Youth Volunteer in Virginia award. Since its creation in 2002, nearly 1,000 young people have participated in the YCC program.

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