(From the Missouri Department of Natural Resources)
Members of the State Parks Youth Corps from Roaring River State Park near Cassville have been assisting this week in another type of park: Cunningham Park, a municipal park in Joplin that was heavily damaged by the May 22 tornado.
The State Parks Youth Corps, or SPYC, was created in 2010 by Gov. Jay Nixon as a jobs program for youth with the focus on assisting in Missouri state parks. Several hundred young people, ages 17-21, are working through the program in Missouri’s 85 state parks and historic sites.
In the aftermath of the devastating Joplin tornado, the Governor mobilized numerous state resources to help the area recover and rebuild. As a part of Missouri State Parks' effort to assist, SPYC members from Roaring River State Park have been helping at Cunningham Park. Beginning on Monday, June 27, the SPYC helped with cleanup at the city park by raking the area and picking up debris left by the tornado. The debris was put in bags and placed on the curb for eventual pickup.
The assistance from SPYC workers at Cunningham Park is one part of an overall effort to assist Joplin area parks. Missouri State Parks is working with Springfield-Greene County Park Board, the Missouri Park and Recreation Association and others to help rebuild municipal parks in Joplin. In addition to helping clean up the parks, the effort will include assisting with planning for rebuilding the parks and anything else necessary for the effort to succeed.
"We realize the value of parks and how important it is to have a place to relax and enjoy nature," said Bill Bryan, Missouri State Parks director, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. "If we can assist the city of Joplin to rebuild one of these islands of nature and solitude, we will provide whatever help we can," Bryan said.
Today and Friday, the SPYC members will return to Roaring River State Park to help prepare the park for guests arriving for the Fourth of July weekend. SPYC crews will continue to assist in Joplin area parks in the future.
The effort to assist at Cunningham Park is just one part of Missouri State Parks' effort to assist the Joplin area parks. Beginning this weekend, donation boxes will be located in all Missouri state parks and historic sites. All donations collected will be used to help purchase and plant trees in Joplin area parks.
Another effort involves Missouri State Parks' participation in the Odwalla Plant-a-Tree program. The program allows people across the nation to vote where they want trees planted. Odwalla has committed $100,000 to the campaign and each vote will be equal to $1 that can be used for trees. This year, Missouri State Parks will donate the trees they receive to help Joplin area parks.
To vote to donate trees to the Joplin area parks, go to mostateparks.com website and click on the Odwalla Plant-a-Tree program link and follow the process. If you enter the six-character code printed inside the Missouri state park system's new Welcome Kit, Odwalla will donate an extra dollar per vote. Voting will continue through Aug. 31.
"We are committed to helping the Joplin area recover and rebuild from this tornado, and assisting in the cleanup and providing trees are two ways we can help them move forward," Bryan said.
For information on Missouri state parks and to vote in the Odwalla Plant-a-Tree program, visit mostateparks.com.