Sweat equity

Kelsey Gerhardt|Daily News Richmond, Virginia native Emily Beres is helping to remove rust and old paint from the fencing at Wilderness Road State Parks Karlan Mansion.

Kelsey Gerhardt|Daily News Caroline Tsui from Tappahannock, Virginia pressure washes benches at Wilderness Road State Parks new amphitheater while Terra Fox from Richmond, Virginia uses a leaf blower to keep the grounds looking nice.

Wilderness Road State Park is receiving help from several students across the country through the Youth Conservation Corps. The group is made up of several females, ages 14 to 17, who have a love for the outdoors and volunteering their time to beautify existing attractions in parks.

“This program gives these kids a look at what it’s like working in environmental jobs or in the parks — what they can expect from a job like this, but they’re learning and they all seem to really be having a good time doing it,” said Wilderness Road State Park Manager Scott Bowen.

YCC members arrived at the park on June 24 and have been working on restoring parts of the Karlan Mansion, cleaning up the new amphitheater area and fixing sections of trails.

YCC is part of a grant through the AmeriCorps program and includes funding for YCC members lodging, meals and travel expenses while they are participating in the program.

“I visited parks a lot with my family when I was younger, so this gives me a chance to see behind the scenes and give back for family fun I had while camping, plus I’ve learned some skills like using hand tools that I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else,” said two-year YCC member Siobhan Paull.

In their free time, YCC members are visiting Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and Gap Cave, going shopping and exploring the Tri-State area. Together they are working on their teamwork skills, learning to be goal oriented and accepting of each others differences.

“Our park benefits because with all of the technology available to us today, we get to teach them about the outdoors and instill in them that being outside is meaningful and healthy. We take the time to work with them and show them how to do manual labor, which is good for them mentally and physically,” said Bowen.

During their last week at the park, YCC members will assist park employees with the annual Jr. Rangers program which gives younger children an inside look at being a park ranger. Jr. Rangers will explore easy trails, trace animal tracks and learn about safe practices while being outdoors.

“Since this is my second year with YCC, I wanted to come back and do it again because it’s such a rewarding experience and I wanted to learn something new,” said Paull.

Kelsey Gerhardt may be reached at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardmbdn.

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