State Parks Youth Corps Builds Character and Helps Parks

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COLUMBIA - The State Parks Youth Corps (SPYC) is still looking for employees to fill summer positions. The SPYC Program hires 17 to 23 year olds for part time summer positions.

Gov. Jay Nixon met with Missouri State Parks employees last week to get more youth involved with SPYC in Columbia.

Jim Gast is the Park Superintendent at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. He wants to use the SPYC employees for two different projects.

"We are looking for people to work on exotic species control, we have a lot of evasive plants that we don't want in the park. We are also looking for workers to do interpretive programs for the public," Gast said.

Finger Lakes State Park is another park that receives help from SPYC during the summer. Debbie Newby, the park superintendent said, "For big projects typically we have six people working on a trail for 300 hours, and then the next group comes in and finishes the job."

Wesley Nachbor worked for SPYC in 2010 at Finger Lakes State Park, and he now works for Missouri State Parks. He thinks that the program also greatly benefits the employees.

"It's good for people to get involved in the SPYC program to keep them from getting lazy or sit around all summer. You can still go outside to work, and still have fun doing it," Nachbor said.

The program started in 2010 and hired more than 1,000 people. Last year SPYC hired 440 employees.

The SPYC maintenance and help with state parks has also helped attendance to the state parks. According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, state parks attendance over the past four years has continuously grown. Before 2010 the state parks attendance was declining every year.