Dane County Launches New Youth Conservation Corps

March 12, 2014
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 843-8858
County Executive


Building Job Skills for Young Adults, Improving County Parks for All to Enjoy


Dane County Parks will see a number of improvements in the coming year, thanks to work now underway from Dane County’s brand new “Youth Conservation Corps.”  The new group, created by the County Executive in his 2014 budget, formalizes a partnership with Operation Fresh Start to help build job skills for young adults and improve county parks for all to enjoy.


“Service groups made up of young people helped build the UW Arboretum in the 1930s and improved waterways across the county in the 1990s,” said Parisi. “The Dane County Youth Conservation Corps will carry on that proud tradition by improving our county parks, and helping young adults build critical skills for a lifetime of success.”


Parisi created the Youth Conservation Corps in his 2014 county budget with a $64,000 investment from the county and a more than $180,000 investment from Operation Fresh Start to fund a team of 15 young adults who will work year-round on a wide variety of projects.


The Youth Conservation Corps has been hard at work since the beginning of the year to keep county parks and their amenities clean, accessible, and family friendly.


This week, the Youth Conservation Corps has been clearing invasive weeds and restoring woodland in Festge County Park, near the location of Wednesday’s announcement.


“The Youth Conservation Corps crew has greatly enhanced the ongoing restoration efforts at Festge County Park,” said Gary Nelson, President of the Friends of Festge County Park.  “The crew has already helped restore several acres of woodland as part of a total restoration of the park’s 120 acres of natural areas.”


In addition to improving county parks, the corps will also engage young adults who have dropped out of high school, or are unemployed and not moving forward, helping them gain critical job and life skills.


Through the Operation Fresh Start model, the participants will have the opportunity to finish high school, and receive assistance in career development and job placement as they work.


“The Dane County Youth Corps will help more disconnected youth transform their lives, a goal of Operation Fresh Start since 1971,” said Greg Markel, Executive Director of Operation Fresh Start. “A high school dropout costs a community more than $250,000 over his or her lifetime. An investment of $64,000 in the Dane County Youth Conservation Corps will save taxpayers millions and make county parks nicer for all.”


In the year ahead, the crew will work oneverything from building and repairing picnic tables; restoring park facilities; improving land and water trail access; cleaning up the shores of lakes and rivers, and more.

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