COLUMBIA — With more than 3,539 applications already submitted and awaiting review, the people working for the State Parks Youth Corps are preparing to close the application window at the close of business Friday.
The program will employ 1,000 Missourians between the ages of 17 and 24 in paid positions around Missouri's 85 state parks and historic sites, said Scott Holste, a spokesman for Gov. Jay Nixon. These include Rock Bridge Memorial and Finger Lakes state parks in Boone County and several projects along the cross-state Katy Trail.
“The State Park Youth Corps will be used to help enhance the park experience for the 15 million visitors that our state parks and historic sites see,” Holste said. Local Workforce Investment boards, along with the Department of Natural Resources' State Parks Division, will review applications, Holste said.
The jobs, which pay $7.25 an hour, include a little bit of many things: maintenance, landscaping, leading nature walks and doing inventory on artifacts.
Debbie Newby, superintendent of Finger Lakes north of Columbia, said she expects to get seven workers through the program. The employees will help build trails, including a new mountain bike trail that will span three miles.
“This is all part of the governor’s initiative to increase attendance at state parks,” which saw a 10-year decline from 1999 to 2008, Holste said.
Most of the money for the program is coming through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Workforce Investment boards.
New employees will start work as early as May 1 and can work up to 240 hours through Sept. 30, meaning they could earn $1,740.
“This is generally a group of people where unemployment figures are higher, and it’s also temporary employment, so it’s aimed at older high school students and college kids."
Holste said the new positions won't replace those of employees recently laid off. “This is new work and new jobs. These are temporary jobs aimed at enhancing the park experience, so some of these projects haven’t had much funding in the past,” he said
Those interested can apply online at MO.gov by the end of tomorrow. Holste said he thinks the number of applicants will reach 4,000 by the end of day.