PATERSON, NJ - This year’s Great Falls Youth Corps (GFYC) graduates were honored on their last day of service during a cleanup at the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park on Friday.
The ceremony recognizing the graduates preceded a cleanup of the area around the Great Falls by GFYC members, who highlighted their experience and accomplishments this summer at the Paterson national park.
The goal of GFYC, which was formed in 2009 as a partnership between NJ Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) and the U.S. National Park Service (NPS), is to improve the appearance of the Great Falls National Historical Park, making it more accessible to the public, and fostering knowledge of the National Park Service and its core mission, and enhancing future enjoyment for existing residents and future visitors.
The program provides employment and community engagement for youth in Paterson while sprucing up the Historic District. This summer, NPS hired two former GFYC members and Paterson natives, Sarai Perez and Peter Daley, as part-time park rangers to provide tours, help with park programing and give information to visitors.
"The National Park Service’s outreach to youth is about more than hiring inexpensive labor for the summer; it’s about cultivating the next generation of park stewards,” said Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Superintendent Darren Boch. “We take for granted that our national parks are forever parks. But we can only be assured of that if we connect to our communities and make these natural and historic resources relevant to them. That’s what the Great Falls Youth Corps is all about."
"As a result of the Great Falls Youth Corps' commitment and dedication to the Great Falls, this natural and historic wonder has secured its place as a destination for visitors from across our state and beyond,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-09). “This outstanding program fosters the training of the future stewards of our national park, and as a lifelong Paterson resident I couldn't be more proud knowing our city's treasures are in the hands of these future leaders. While the Great Falls National Historical Park is a living manifestation of the Silk City's rich history, the Great Falls Youth Corps serves as a means to usher in Paterson's bright future."