BROOKLINE, MO (KTVI)-Nestled in the Ozarks, an historic battlefield seems a long way from Washington. But the National Park Service that runs Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is feeling the impact of sequestration and its forced budget cuts.
Wilson’s Creek was the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River. Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed in combat, died there. The bloody Southern victory on August 10, 1861, focused greater national attention on the war in Missouri.
Many people, of course, do come to the battlefield to learn about the history, to see some of the exhibits, the artifacts here from 150 years ago, bbut there’s also a group of teens here who come to learn how to work. They find their first jobs here. It’s a program called the Youth Conservation Corps and it is being cut because of sequestration.
“What we were doing was helping preserve something rather than just flipping burgers at McDonalds or somewhere,” says Shelby Posey.
Shelby Posey smiles a lot when thinking about her summer at Wilson’s Creek Battlefield.
“Being my first job it was a lot of fun even though we did a lot of labor stuff – we put up barbed wire fence which was not the easiest task ever but it was fun. Having that, I know that I can go into any job and probably be able to do it because I learned something I didn’t think I could do before.”
The National Park Service started the YCC nine years ago at Wilson’s Creek. Its mission is to provide inner city kids and minorities a chance at a first job. They do get paid, but they also come away with an invaluable life experience.
Ted Hillmer with Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield says, “It’s like that starfish on the beach – you can’t save everyone at the beach, but at least I can save this one. I can plant seeds in young people because it’s a diverse population we need to be serving. Part of this group, in the park service, have them take care of this resource for the next generation – we got to have that. We’ve got to start some place.”
But now it’s on pause. The federal government is cutting $162,000 from Wilson’s Creek’s budget.
Ted Hillmer with Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield says, “
“What I do is cut seasonals and I cut programs that are important us. But again we have to keep the people that are here on fixed costs first. That’s just the way life is right now,” adds Hillmer.
The battlefield will have to cut 16 jobs. They hope volunteers can help with some of the work that will go undone.