2018 Chickamauga & Chattanooga Conservation Crew is a wrap!
Another successful five-week summer program is in the books for our crew from the Southeast Youth Corps! Two young men and three young women, ranging from age 15 to 18, graduated on July 13th from the Chickamauga & Chattanooga Conservation Crew (formerly called the Urban Archeology Corps). Undeterred by blistering heat, unfamiliar tools, and weeks of hands-on hard labor, these kids rolled up their sleeves alongside National Park Service Rangers and tackled projects ranging from building steps over marshy spots on the Blue Blazes Trail at Moccasin Bend to building a Civil-War era fence in the very spot that one existed on Chickamauga Battlefield during the war. They also worked closely with the Park's two Veterans Training and Apprentice Program (VTAP) participants tasked with monument repairs and restorations. Maintaining the historic integrity of over 1,400 monuments, plaques, cannons, and other features spread across the Park's 9,000 acres - markers that serve as solemn commemorations of our once-divided nation, carefully placed throughout the various battlefields with input from veterans of both sides of the Civil War - is among the highest funding priorities of National Park Partners. To see these young folks working side by side with veterans who served their country in uniform and continue to serve through VTAP is a truly inspiring sight! For the full photo gallery for the summer, click here.
Now in our fourth year of this public-private partnership, National Park Partners and the National Park Service utilize the expertise of the Southeast Conservation Corps and each chip in a share of the program cost to support these hard-working local high-school students (or recent graduates). The benefits to the National Park Service are tremendous, as a five-person work crew such as our C4 team can accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time, supplementing the limited resources of the Park Service to achieve much-needed maintenance and landscape restorations. Engaging the next generation of stewards is critical to the long-term care and protection of our precious cultural, natural, and historical resources; and this program achieves that important mission as well.
The crew receives valuable training they can take with them to the next phase of their lives, from practical how-to skills with tools and machinery to important life lessons in teamwork, resiliency, and dedication to a task. Perhaps most importantly, these young folks become ambassadors for the National Park Service, sharing what they've learned about our special Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park with their friends and family. They can lead a hike on the Blue Blazes Trail and say, "I built those steps." Someday, they can return to Chickamauga Battlefield and show their children the fence they constructed in just a few days, forever enriching the interpretive experience for generations of visitors. Perhaps they will become interested in a career in conservation, or will seek further opportunities to work or volunteer with the National Park Service. Wherever life takes them, our National Park lands will hold a special place in their hearts, as they do in the hearts of all of us at National Park Partners for Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Moccasin Bend.
Very special thanks to the Lyndhurst Foundation for their grant to National Park Partners in support of the 2018 Chickamauga & Chattanooga Conservation Crew!