The Dalles Lock and Dam celebrates high school volunteers

Students enrolled in the Youth Transition Program at The Dalles Whatonka High School volunteered at The Dalles Dam, earning credit for graduation. The dam saved more than $4,000 thanks to the volunteer help. (Photo by Amber Tilton, The Dalles Lock and Dam)

Students enrolled in the Youth Transition Program at The Dalles Whatonka High School volunteered at The Dalles Dam, earning credit for graduation. The dam saved more than $4,000 thanks to the volunteer help. (Photo by Amber Tilton, The Dalles Lock and Dam)

By Diana Fredlund, Public Affairs Office

Park Ranger Amber Tilton serves up root beer floats during an appreciation and farewell party. Students from The Dalles Whatonka High School volunteered at The Dalles Dam, earning credit for graduation. (Photo by Emma Johnson, The Dalles Lock and Dam)

Park Ranger Amber Tilton serves up root beer floats during an appreciation and farewell party. Students from The Dalles Whatonka High School volunteered at The Dalles Dam, earning credit for graduation. (Photo by Emma Johnson, The Dalles Lock and Dam)

Volunteers are vital to The Dalles Lock and Dam.   Thanks to a new partnership with a local high school, the dam was matched with students who needed to work volunteer hours in order to graduate. The Youth Transition Program is operated by The Dalles Whatonka High School. The program helps students needing on-the-job-skills and a certain number of volunteer hours to graduate. That means students qualify for needed hours while they receive hands-on learning opportunities, work experience for their resumes and job shadowing experience.

During this first year, seven students earned an accumulated total of 187 hours of service between April and June. The hours counted toward their graduation requirements – and the Corps received a cost savings of more than $4,000. Student projects included preparing the historic Seufert rose garden for the upcoming recreation season by pulling weeds and trimming bushes, painting guard rails, raking and removing noxious weeds from visitor areas and litter removal from parks.

“From our perspective the program was a great success,” said Amber Tilton, The Dalles Lock and Dam park ranger. “The volunteers help us complete some vital tasks and the students satisfy some of their graduation requirements. We will definitely talk with the school about the program next year.”

As graduation approached the staff at The Dalles Dam hosted a root beer float party for their volunteers. Donning handlebar mustaches – “Old-fashioned root beer floats just taste better, when you have an old-fashioned mustache, you know,” said Emma Nelson, The Dalles park ranger and co-host of the event – the volunteers enjoyed one last afternoon at The Dalles Lock and Dam.

This time there were no paintbrushes, rakes or shovels in sight. Just root beer floats.