At Lake Murray State Park near Ardmore, a group of dedicated young adults is “breathing life” back into an historic park.
For the last several weeks, 11 team members of the AmeriCorps program have been putting in hours of sweat equity to assist the maintenance crews in shaping up park buildings, the lodge, cabins, and clearing trails, thus improving the quality of Oklahoma's first and largest state park.
All of this is part of a 10-month program where group members from different states travel to communities to devote their time and energy to projects while gaining educational and life skills.
The mission of the AmeriCorps program is to offer young adults the opportunity to serve on projects that address critical needs related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvements, environmental stewardship, and conservation and other such needs. In exchange for their services, Corps members receive up to $5,500 to pay for college or to pay back existing student loans.
Because Lake Murray State Park was established on the foundation of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal program developed in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, similarities in the programs made this an ideal partnership. Reminiscent of the CCC, the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps teaches people ages 18-24 skills that can be applied to outside jobs once they leave the program.
“With the assistance of the AmeriCorps members and the added support they provide, we are able to focus our employees on other areas in the park that are in need of service,” said Park Construction Maintenance Administrator Daryl Bean. “And it allows us to provide each person with invaluable training for a future in construction and environmental conservation.”