Pickett State Park in Jamestown matched
the present with the past by teaming AmeriCorps*NCCC volunteers with former Civilian
Conservation Corps (CCC) members for some unique classes in the art of stone masonry.
Former CCCers and brothers, Jim and Oscar Odum, along with local masons Craig and
Johnny Wheeler, taught the classes. They gave the volunteers "hands on" training
in the techniques of cutting and laying stone.
The AmeriCorps*NCCC teams went on to complete five stone projects which used
approximately 26 tons of flagstone purchased from a quarry located between Jamestown and
Pall Mall. These projects included a patio which corrected an erosion problem near the old
ranger station, three walls, and two culverts. These are examples of tying the new
stonework of the AmeriCorps to the original work of the CCC. Within a few years, the newly
laid stone will be stained by weather and the nearby oak trees to match the old.
Craig and Johnny Wheeler, cousins who learned their trade from surviving CCC stone
masons, say they are impressed with the volunteers hard work and desire to learn the
trade. They both indicated that the stone work of both the CCC and the AmeriCorps will be
here till the end of time.
Not only did the volunteers learn stonework, they were also treated to insights about
the history of the park and the CCC. Dave Hassler, former CCCer at the Pickett camps,
joined the Odums to give the AmeriCorps*NCCC workers information about the early days in
the CCC and how it has affected their lives. They talked about their CCC work which
included building roads and trails, stringing telephone lines, fighting forest fires, and
planting trees. They also talked about their living conditions and the $30 monthly salary
they received, $25 of which was required to be sent home to their families.
Pickett State Park isnt the only park to benefit from volunteer work by
AmeriCorps members: this fall and winter, three Tennessee State Parks received
rejuvenation projects from the national organization which takes its roots from a well
known federal project of the New Deal days of the 1930s and 1940s, the CCC.
AmeriCorps*NCCC volunteers are involved in community projects similar to their
predecessors, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) who were the original "Tree Army
and Soil Soldiers" who initially developed many of our state and national parks with
skill and craftsmanship that has lasted for over 60 years.
Today, the AmeriCorps*NCCC volunteers are following in the CCC's footsteps by
completing projects that will benefit our parks for future generations.
The parks fortunate enough to receive AmeriCorps*NCCC teams were Fall Creek Falls State
Park, Tims Ford State Park and Pickett State Park. Each 11-member team completed a variety
of projects including trail construction and repair, constructing backcountry campsites
and the clearing of areas damaged by snow and ice storms.
One project that may have earned the AmeriCorps*NCCC their own title of "Tree Army
and Soil Soldiers" involved the planting of native plants and trees that were
purchased through the Tennessee State Parks "Iris Fund" license plate program.
Many people are impressed with the hard work that the Corps members perform, including
Bob Rees, park manager at Tims Ford State Park, who describes their work ethic as being
wonderful, energetic, driven, focused and dynamic.
The AmeriCorps volunteers not only work in the parks, but they also contribute a lot to
the surrounding communities. Part of AmeriCorps NCCC's mission is to participate in
special projects in the communities that they are serving, for both public relations and
personal growth reasons. The teams worked in local schools and nursing homes in addition
to their 40-hour work week at the parks.
"I have received a lot of positive feedback about their work and how it has
impacted the local community," Bob Rees adds.
In addition to their community projects, the team at Pickett helped the park staff
build a parade float and participated in the Jamestown Christmas Parade. They also became
regulars at the local Jamestown High School basketball games along with some of the park
The parks and their staff benefit from the examples of teamwork and diversity the
volunteers provide. The Corps members consist of young men and women from all across the
United States. They range in age from 18 to 24 years and represent many ethnic
The AmeriCorps teams provide a source of free labor to the parks. Their 11-member teams
are able to complete large projects, something which is sometimes difficult for many
smaller maintenance departments in state parks. Each park provides living accommodations
for the workers, which can be easily accomplished in the late fall and winter when some
park facilities are normally closed.
The AmeriCorps members also benefit from their experiences in the parks. The Fall Creek
and Pickett teams spent their first week in the park in training and orientation. Classes
were taught in landscaping, trail construction, chainsaw safety and stone masonry.
Corps members were given a taste of the local culture with some mountain music and an
old-time square dance. Bob Fulcher, regional interpretive specialist for East Tennessee,
organized the square dance and performed fiddle and banjo tunes unique only to the
The teams were also treated to a rock climbing seminar at the Chimney Rock formation
near Pickett State Park, taught by Ray Cutcher, a park ranger stationed at Fall Creek
Falls State Park. Andrew York, park ranger at the Alvin C. York Historic Park, met with
Corps members and talked to them about his famous father and what it was like growing up
in the Wolf River Valley.
The staff at all three parks included the AmeriCorps members in their employee
functions and dinners, making them part of their park families.
The AmeriCorps NCCC has been a great success in Tennessee State Parks and it is hoped
that the program can be expanded and continued into the future. All who have worked with
these young people over the past several months agree that they have worked hard and will
leave behind a legacy to be admired for 50 years, just as the CCC did.
To contact AmeriCorps, call 1-800-942-2677.
For more information about Pickett State Park, call 931-879-5821.
(At Pickett State Park in Jamestown, Alan Wasik is park manager and Meredith
Mullen is a park ranger.)
What Is AmeriCorps*NCCC?
The National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is a part of AmeriCorps, the network of
national service programs that provide opportunties for full-time service in exchange for
education awards. In AmeriCorps*NCCC, a 10-month program, members serve on teams and live
in a campus environment. They work to complete service projects in the areas of
environmental conservation, education, public safety and other community needs. Upon
completion of service, members receive a $4,725 education award in the form of a voucher.
Updated July 1, 1999; Send comments to Department of Environment and Conservation.