Teens from across Southeast helping improve Southside state park

Work is park of Virginia State Parks Youth Conservation Corps program

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

PATRICK COUNTY, Va. - Using an ax to chop up a tree stump is one of many jobs teens from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and across the commonwealth have been working on as they make their way through the woods at the boat ramp across from the swim beach at Fairy Stone Lake.

"The best part would probably be out here in the nature, looking at the sun and seeing this beautiful lake," Nelson County high school junior Felix Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said he signed up to participate in the program because a friend had participated before and enjoyed it.

Rodriguez is also interested in a career with the park service.

"I like being a forester because I like being outside. It's better than being in a classroom," Rodriguez said.

"What I've learned so far the most is probably about erosion control; how much erosion there is. What we do here is a lot of erosion control. We lay down riprap and rocks to make a nice and good environment."

Cody Miner traveled all the way from Sarasota, Florida, to participate in the program because he wanted to do some community service.

"One of my friends, he lives in Georgia. One of his friends did it and she liked it, so I thought I'd give it a shot," Miner said.

The Virginia State Parks Youth Conservation Corps program allows teens to work in state parks in order to get exposure to nature and possibly be inspired to pursue a job with the park service.

Xavier Gonzalez is one of the team leaders overseeing the teens' work.

He said there is a need for park rangers.

"There's definitely a demand for rangers, in Virginia especially," Gonzalez said. "This program teaches them about conservation, teaches them about nature, gives them the opportunity to appreciate the nature."

The teens will complete the program Saturday with a graduation ceremony.

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