High school students to help revitalize state parks

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High school students to help revitalize state parks
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

Career and technical education students in West Virginia are beginning to attack the $50 million in deferred maintenance projects in the state park system.

An interagency agreement between the state Department of Education and state Division of Natural Resources was signed in a ceremony Wednesday morning at the state capitol.

The students are part of student-led companies at the centers through the Simulated Workplace program. They made themselves known to state residents last year when they built the “little houses” for dozens of victims of the 2016 flood. It’s now time to take the skills of the students even further, Assistant State School Superintendent Kathy D’Antoni said.

“We have all of these programs–so why not–instead of building birdhouses–why don’t we give these students real life projects, that not only help them with their future but also impacts our state,” D’Antoni said.

The compact is a good way to leverage education dollars to impact the economy, D’Antoni said.

Division of Natural Resources Director Stephen McDaniel said the students will work with the park superintendents and maintenance staffs to complete a number of projects.

“Re-plumbing entire cabins, bathhouses, electrical wiring that might be 50 to 60 years old. There are a lot of things,” McDaniel said.

The DNR will provide the materials.

Almost every state park and state forest are close to career and technical education centers. The few centers that aren’t close will build items and ship them to other parks, McDaniel said.

Matthew Cummings is a student at Carver Career and Technical Center in Kanawha County. He said the students can have a big impact on the state parks.

“Everybody needs a plumber. Everybody needs it,” Cummings said.

There are more than 24,000 students with 1,200 Simulated Workplaces in West Virginia.