By Jim Geenen, Chair, Youth Conservation Corps Committee
The Youth Conservation Corps has focused on a number of areas these past few months.
In coordination with and supervised by Haywood Waterways Association (HWA), we have completed six youth projects involving approximately ten young people each. They removed invasive plants on Waynesville creeks, planted native species including Rivercane trees donated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), conducted litter clean up, and made signs for rain water collection and containment sites. These first YCC teams are affiliated with the First United Methodist Church of Waynesville.
Approximately eight more projects are being planned for late winter and early spring.
2. In partnership with Western Carolina University’s Community Engagement and Service Learning Department, under Director Lane Perry’s facilitation we received two fellowships, again in coordination with Haywood Waterways Association.
HWA has been focusing on researching the correct species of plants to be transplanted to four municipalities within Haywood County, and HWA has supervised the as well as participated in planting those species. Two interns, science majors at WCU, received grants from the university to work with YCC and HWA for fall semester 2020 and the spring semester 2021. The two interns are gaining professional experience in stream bank and stream restoration, project planning, and leadership.
3. We are talking with the management of Camp Henry on Lake Logan and of Boy Scout Camp Daniel Boone about YCC young people developing hiking trails between the two camps. As we work together to build and then hike the trails, this project would increase awareness of the importance of protecting and enhancing these recreational areas for more visitors.
5. We are also working Haywood Waterways Association (HWA) to recruit volunteers to “take the plunge” on February 27th to match an earlier $10,000 grant earmarked for YCC-related activities. Among these are giving young people hands-on learning about the biology of our waterways.
The Plunge is one of HWA’s most important annual fundraisers. If you’re not already a supporter, please read about their extraordinary work to reduce the worst effects of extreme weather by flooding, mudslides, and landslides on homes, businesses, and public property. http://haywoodwaterways.org/
6. With Grace Episcopal Church in the Mountains, we have agreed on the importance of constructing rain gardens on their property. The rain gardens would provide a model within the community so other organizations and individuals could see first-hand the importance of keeping our water free of a variety of pollutants.
Should you be interested in discussing any of these, please give Jim Geenen a call at: 828-508-4289.