Excel as a High-Performing Agency

Job Corps increases community ties, Forest Service visibility

MISSOURI – As a district ranger in the Mark Twain National Forest in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Jon M. Stansfield is constantly looking for ways to increase the Forest Service’s visibility. At the end of summer, he approached Mingo Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center about building a welcome sign for the Mark Twain National Forest. He envisioned the project could utilize several of the trades offered at Mingo CCC. On August 1, 2019, Mingo students began constructing a project that would increase community ties and honor the CCC legacy.

"The project is a great example of the type of work the USDA Forest Service and Civilian Conservation Centers have completed together throughout history,” said Stansfield. “In fact, the Mingo CCC built my Ranger Station in 1970.”

Mr. Stansfield is a believer in partnering with Mingo CCC on important projects. Twelve of Mingo CCC’s carpentry students formed the foundational concrete work. The flagstone used on this project came in large pieces, weighing 20 to 30 lbs., that the students had to chisel out sections fitting all the pieces together like a puzzle.

Workers pouring concrete
Carpentry Instructor Jamey Heiserer and Job Corps student John Ramos working on the base in Poplar Bluff, Missouri on August 1, 2019. USDA Forest Service photo by Matthew Couch.
Workers pouring concrete
Job Corps students and instructor doing the finish work on the base in Poplar Bluff, Missouri on August 1, 2019. USDA Forest Service photo by Matthew Couch.

"I learned about using a builders’ level and leveling footings and foundation walls. It was a good experience,” said Cody Teen-Southard, carpentry trade student.

In addition to Mingo’s carpentry students, four welding students fabricated all the metal support for the sign, 14 brick mason students built the base and three painting students completed the finish painting on the sign.

“It was great hands on learning experience and a great activity where the students of Mingo were able to give back to the community,” said Zachery Zallar, brick mason trade student.

“This project serves to remind locals and visitors alike that National Forest System lands are their backyard and that public lands are an asset that belong to them,” said Stansfield.

Mingo students and staff invested almost 1100 hours towards the welcome sign project, which was finalized in late October.

Sing stand with flagstones
Completed base waiting on for the Welcome Sign to be hung in Poplar Bluff, Missouri on September 20, 2019. USDA Forest Service photo by Matthew Couch.
Group photo by new Mark Twain National Forest
Job Corps students and the completed Mark Twain National Forest welcome sign in in Poplar Bluff, Missouri on October 7, 2019. USDA Forest Service photo by Jon Stansfield.

“The students did a spectacular job,” said Stansfield. “I have already received a few comments from the community about the craftsmanship on display at the site. It has been a pleasure to work with [Mingo Center Director] Mr. Lawrence Ferrell and his staff and we will continue to collaborate into the future.”

Stansfield went on to say that the welcome sign project “will serve as a point of pride reminding us as we drive by, of the nobility of utilizing our skills, old and new, to serve our country.”

If your forest needs help with signage, please reach out to Cyndi Szymanski, Job Corps National Office Natural Resource Liaison at Cynthia.szymanski@usda.gov or 303-275-5074.