By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon’s city parks and recreation facilities are getting some much needed “sprucing up” … each week this fall and through next spring.
Students from the Service Careers’ Building & Grounds Maintenance program at Canadian Valley Technology Center have started a school-year-long service project.
Students in the program’s morning and afternoon sessions are offering their landscaping services every Thursday, according to Yukon Park Maintenance Supervisor Claudia Krshka.
“They’re going to each of the parks and are helping us pull weeds and maintain flower beds,” Krshka said. “In the spring, they’re going to help us with pruning the crape myrtles.”
The additional manpower is welcome.
That’s because many Yukon Parks Maintenance personnel, led by Superintendent Jason Worden, are busy preparing hundreds of Christmas holiday displays across the sprawling Yukon City Park complex.
CV Tech Service Careers’ Building & Grounds Maintenance instructor Chris Ulmer said she and technical assistant Paula Hall were looking for an opportunity to “reach out into the community.”
“We want our students to practice their landscape maintenance skills, to learn to work independently and learn the value of hard work,” Ulmer explained.
“After we contacted the City of Yukon and were connected with Parks and Rec they explained to us they were very short-staffed right now. So much of their attention goes to ‘Christmas in the Park’.”
Christmas in the Park is Yukon’s epic, six-week yuletide lights extravaganza at the interconnecting Chisholm Trail Park, Yukon City Park and Freedom Trail Park.
CV Tech’s Service Careers’ Building & Grounds Maintenance program focuses on teaching students “employability skills” in the fields of horticulture, landscape maintenance, custodial and greenhouse work.
Their weekly Yukon service project been rewarding learning experience so far.
“They have fun seeing the ‘before’ and ‘after’,” Ulmer shared. “They know there are helping someone who needs help.
“We have a lot of natural helpers in this program.”
Meanwhile, Hall said these students are rewarded by the public attention they receive for their efforts.
“A lot of these kids don’t get recognized a lot,” she said. “They don’t get all the awards, the accolades and the ‘atta-boys’.”
The student volunteers are now focused on the most highly visible areas of Yukon parks. They’re learning to appreciate the work it takes to provide the beautiful park landscapes across the city.
“We load up every Thursday and we go to wherever Claudia needs us,” their instructor reported. “We’re helping with the ‘weeding’ and landscape maintenance.
“Next February, we’ll be able to work with crape myrtles as (the students) learn how to turn those from bushes into trees. We also hope to help with Christmas in the Park because we know that takes about 80% of their staff.”
Students learn about the difference between coverings and weeds. They learn to identify landscaping tools and how to use them.
They also learn how to work both independently and as part of a team.
The CV Tech group is comprised of high school juniors, seniors and adults from “feeder schools” in Canadian County.
“Right now, we’re in our horticulture unit,” Ulmer said. “We’re getting our ‘toes wet’ into the landscaping.”
Students learn how to operate zero-turn mowers and lawn trimmers. In the spring, they host a plant sale open to the public.