Youth Employment in Parks (YEP) crews continue their summer work with the Tour of Anchorage Trail. In a normal year, Youth Employment in Parks (YEP) deals with bears, moose, bees, rain, sun and mosquitoes. In 2020, a global pandemic can be added to the list. In order to create the safest possible work environment for participants, YEP has implemented many new program adaptations this year. YEP crew members have been working with many safety precautions, including wearing masks any time they are on the job, not sharing tools, and working in smaller crews.

The Tour of Anchorage Trail has involved some of the most intense effort for YEP crews, thus far, with Anchorage teens moving gravel to remote reaches of the trail in wheelbarrows, sometimes up to a mile from gravel pile locations. “These kids know how to work!” said Meredith Gutierrez, Field Educator with Youth Employment in Parks. In total, crews will move around 200 yards of material to resurface the trail. Significant to both Anchorage and Alaska, this project takes place on the old Fur Rondy sled dog trail. And the Mayor’s Marathon will follow the route in the future, after this summer’s improvements.

Youth Employment in Parks is an annual summer youth workforce development program for teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 in Anchorage. Every year, Anchorage Parks and Recreation hires a diverse group of teens from across the city to work on parks improvement projects throughout Anchorage’s vast parks and trails system.

According to Kristen Mrozowski, Trails Technician with community partner Alaska Trails, this year’s first full day of YEP presented unique challenges: “I’ve never seen a rainier first day of YEP than this year’s. … Everyone had a positive attitude. I was really impressed with their first day.” Anchorage Park Foundation celebrates the Anchorage teens whose work helps make this program a success and brings about tangible community impact.

The media is invited to visit the Tour of Anchorage Trail, and to see the great work that Youth Employment in Parks crews are doing. Masks are required for all visitors to the work site.

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