IBJNews

Young workers help Indiana parks during cutbacks

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A stimulus-funded jobs program that gives young Indiana residents summer work is helping keep the state's parks shipshape by providing workers during a period of budget cuts, park officials say.

At Pokagon State Park in far northeastern Indiana, the 56 young men and women hired through the Young Hoosiers Conservation Corps are improving park trails, painting buildings, manning the gatehouse and doing other work, property manager Ted Bohman said.

With budget cuts having reduced the park's seasonal work force from the 40 normally hired to 15, he said the young workers are taking up some of the slack.

"It came at the right time," Bohman said Monday, referring to the federal money. "And it's being used in a way that not only enhances the park but also gives these kids an opportunity to learn something they otherwise wouldn't have."

Indiana got $24 million in stimulus funding split between 2009 and 2010 to hire about 2,000 young people for summer jobs that pay $8.50 per hour and last about 16 weeks. Some hired as supervisors will earn $9.50 per hour over 18 to 24 weeks. To qualify, people must be 18 to 24 years old.

Since Indiana was awarded the money last year, Gov. Mitch Daniels has cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget because the recession has reduced state revenue. State agencies are under orders to cut spending by 15 percent for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources spokesman Phil Bloom said the agency had hired about 1,000 seasonal workers at the peak of the summer season in past years. But because of the budget restrictions this year, it's capped those summer jobs at 548 positions.

He said the young workers hired by the DNR — 1,665 as of Monday — will help the seasonal workers with important maintenance work at many of the state's 24 state parks and dozens of other properties.

"It definitely helped, and it's added to projects that even that core group of summer intermittent may not have been able to get to even under normal circumstances," Bloom said.

Last year, those projects included the removal of about 3,000 acres of nonnative plants such as Asian honeysuckle, a bush that's crowding out native plants. The young workers also renovated 380 buildings and 50 historic buildings owned by the DNR, built 30 miles of new trails and upgraded 500 miles of existing trails.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development is administering the Young Hoosiers work program. Agency spokesman Marc Lotter said no decision has been made on whether the program will continue next year, when no stimulus money will be available.

At southern Indiana's Falls of the Ohio State Park, eight Young Hoosiers workers have been hired so far for the summer, park manager Steve Knowles said. He said the park has three seasonal workers, one less than last year.

The young workers are helping the park's eight full-time staff with daily maintenance and also providing an interpreter for a cabin that's a re-creation of the one Revolutionary War hero Gen. George Rogers Clark built near the Ohio River in 1803.

"I probably would have had a really tough time staffing the Clark cabin this year without them, and our flower beds probably wouldn't look as nice," Knowles said.

Last year, the Young Hoosiers program covered only DNR properties. This year, the state Department of Transportation also is hiring summer workers under the program. As of Monday, INDOT had signed up 435 people for the 500 openings, spokesman Will Wingfield said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am so impressed that the smoking ban FAILED in Kokomo! I might just move to your Awesome city!

  2. way to much breweries being built in indianapolis. its going to be saturated market, if not already. when is enough, enough??

  3. This house is a reminder of Hamilton County history. Its position near the interstate is significant to remember what Hamilton County was before the SUPERBROKERs, Navients, commercial parks, sprawling vinyl villages, and acres of concrete retail showed up. What's truly Wasteful is not reusing a structure that could still be useful. History isn't confined to parks and books.

  4. To compare Connor Prairie or the Zoo to a random old house is a big ridiculous. If it were any where near the level of significance there wouldn't be a major funding gap. Put a big billboard on I-69 funded by the tourism board for people to come visit this old house, and I doubt there would be any takers, since other than age there is no significance whatsoever. Clearly the tax payers of Fishers don't have a significant interest in this project, so PLEASE DON'T USE OUR VALUABLE MONEY. Government money is finite and needs to be utilized for the most efficient and productive purposes. This is far from that.

  5. I only tried it 2x and didn't think much of it both times. With the new apts plus a couple other of new developments on Guilford, I am surprised it didn't get more business. Plus you have a couple of subdivisions across the street from it. I hope Upland can keep it going. Good beer and food plus a neat environment and outdoor seating.

ADVERTISEMENT