Nearly 40 young men and women worked for the RCC in Athens County over the summer, fixing up state parks, building a canoe access ramp into the Hocking River and making other improvements to public property. The crew members came from different backgrounds, but worked together effectively in the program, which was funded by the federal government’s economic stimulus package. Athens County Job and Family Services, Hocking College and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources coordinated the program in the county.
The RCC members at Strouds Run State Park included members who were experienced in working outdoors as well as those who were learning on the job. Some were studying natural resources, while others were majoring in other fields, such as accounting and education. For at least one of the members, it was a first job. The crew members all agreed that they were thankful to have jobs that they enjoyed and that paid well.
“We’ve all worked hard and we’ve all gotten along pretty well,” said Brandan Cox, crew leader at Strouds Run State Park. Cox said it was a good experience for him to be the leader. He added that the crew members worked hard and fast, and got their projects finished much more quickly than anyone anticipated.
Eric Platt, RCC crew leader at Hocking College, said that the program is a great opportunity for him, especially at a time when summer jobs can be scarce.
“Also, the pay is great and it really goes a long with what I want to do after I graduate. It’s like a resume builder to me, and it’s giving me leadership experience,” Platt said. He added that he loves working outside.
“I also get to take pride in our work because we are fixing up the area and I am fixing up my school,” Platt said. His favorite projects so far have included building a roost for a Red Tailed Hawk at the Nature Center and making improvements to the trails and boardwalks across campus.
“We’re also getting 10 college credits, and that’s helping me out a lot,” Platt said, adding that the extra hours will help him graduate on time. One of the most important benefits of the program for him is to receive the leadership experience.
“This experience has given me some challenges to help me advance as a leader,” he said. Platt plans to use the leadership skills and other skills he learned when he graduates and enters the job market.
“What I really want to do is to start out taking kids or adjudicated youth out onto backpacking trips, and then work my way up to taking adults on more adventurous trips. I want to spend my time in the wilderness,” Platt said. His time in the RCC has helped prepare him for that work, and he is thankful that he had this opportunity.
“I hope they keep doing this because I think it’s a great program,” Platt said.
Jim Batey, RCC coordinator for Hocking College, said he has heard positive comments from the RCC participants at all of the work sites, and added that he is very pleased with the success of the program in Athens County.
“I think it’s been a fantastic experience,” Batey said. “It’s putting people to work doing the public good, and it’s also giving them some incentive and experience.”
Shown in the top photo (from left to right) are RCC crew members Brandan Cox and Doug Hays watching a tree fall at Strouds Run State Park. Shown in the bottom photo, also at Strouds Run State Park, are RCC crew members (from left to right) Brittany Burdette, Ashley Dennison, Brandan Cox and Patrick Dailey.