Nixon visits Trail of Tears to talk about jobs for young people

Sunday, March 14, 2010
Gov. Jay Nixon promotes the State Parks Youth Corps while on a visit Friday morning to Trail of Tears State Park. The summer jobs program seeks Missourians, ages 17 to 24, to enhance state parks and historic sites. (Fred Lynch)

Gov. Jay Nixon is looking for more than 1,000 young people to work throughout the state parks and historic sites this summer.

The Missouri State Parks Youth Corps will employ Missourians ages 17 to 24 who will serve as outdoor ambassadors to those visiting the 85 state parks and historic sites.

"Spending time in our state's outdoors has been a formative experience for several generations of Missourians, and that includes my own," Nixon said during a stop at Trail of Tears State Park Friday. "In addition to the job experience and the benefits of our parks, the State Parks Youth Corps also will help many of the participants experience and appreciate Missouri's natural beauty in a way they have not been able to."

Nixon was in the area as part of a statewide tour to tout the program he hopes will be part of an effort to boost attendance at the parks and historic sites. While 2009 numbers have not been released, overall attendance at Missouri's 83 state parks and historic sites has dropped 18.6 percent from 18.2 million in 1999 to 14.8 million in 2008.

Those selected for the program will work from May 1 to Sept. 30. Program participants will earn $7.25 an hour for the 240-hour pay period.

Parks staff and counselors will work with the state's 14 local Workforce Investment Boards to recruit applicants.

Youth Corps projects at Trail of Tears State Park include construction on a half-mile section of Shepard's Point Trail, repair of footbridges, maintenance of outside structures and assisting with visitor and camper services.

Projects at Bollinger Mill Historic Site in Burfordville will include similar tasks and assisting professional staff with projects such as natural resource mapping.

Work at other parks and historic sites will include many of the same tasks.

The $2 million program is funded through the federal Workforce Investment Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

On Thursday, Nixon cut nearly $126 million in spending and proposed to eliminate 1,000 state jobs, all state scholarships for students attending private colleges, three state holidays and half of the cars in the state's primary fleet.

State budget director Linda Luebbering announced in a news release Thursday that state revenue collections continue to fall below projections, with a fiscal year-to-date decrease of 12.7 percent. She's predicting fiscal year 2010 will see the largest revenue decline in Missouri history.

"This is a way to use the stimulus money to turn the economy around," Nixon said. "The great thing about this age group in the corps is that I guarantee they'll spend the money and spend it quickly."

For more information on the Missouri State Parks Youth Corps, visit thinkoutside.mo.gov.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

243-6635

Pertinent address:

429 Moccasin Springs Road, Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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