YHCC at Pokagon State Park

  • Name: Danielle Landers YHCC at Pokagon State Park
  • Age: 22
  • Hometown: Waterloo
  • Location: Pokagon State Park
  • Duty: Habitat Maintenance


  • Name: Josh Sandahl
  • Age: 23
  • Hometown: Angola
  • Location: Pokagon State Park
  • Duty: Habitat Maintenance


  • Name: David Concus
  • Age: 19
  • Hometown: Angola
  • Location: Pokagon State Park
  • Duty: Habitat Maintenance

In the ever-raging boundary battle between land and water, water usually wins. Over time, erosion can become significant. Think Grand Canyon.

The shoreline of Lake James inside Pokagon State Park has been noticeably eroding for years. Now, thanks to the efforts of Young Hoosiers Conservation Corps workers, that destructive process should slow. 

Pokagon State Park property manager Ted Bohman has recognized the problem for a while, but had never had been able to tackle it in a cost-effective manner. That is, until the YHCC workers arrived.

When Bohman learned of the extra workers coming, he recognized his chance.

“We’ve wanted to do something along the lakeshore for years, but how do you do it when you don’t have the manpower or finances?” Bohman asked.  

The answer: put a crew of 18 YHCC workers on the job, hauling and placing rocks to build a roughly 500-foot-long by 20-foot-wide retaining wall of all-natural material to cover the troubled area.

In a dual effort to save money and keep the park as natural as possible, all of the rocks used to create the retaining wall were gathered from the property, hauled to the shoreline and placed by hand.

“We had 10 YHCC workers picking rocks, and eight placing them,” Bohman said. “It was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.”

David Concus, 19, of Angola; Danielle Landers, 22, of Waterloo; and Josh Sandahl, 23 of Angola were three of the YHCC workers assigned to Pokagon who worked on building the retaining wall. It’s hard to imagine anyone having fun hauling heavy stones, but according to these three, the job was a “good time.”

“Hey, it sure beats flipping burgers, Concus said. “It’s so nice be out here by the water all day. I don’t ever want to go back to an inside job.”

Sandahl said, “I sure didn’t need to work out this summer. I mean, it was hard and all, but it made the day go by fast and I like that.”

Because of her ability to coordinate and get along with most people and because of her strong work ethic, Landers emerged as a leader among her fellow YHCC workers.

“For me, it was special to be part of a project that will have a lasting effect on the park property. Hopefully what we did this summer will help keep the park beautiful for future visitors,” she said.

Now when the waves of Lake James splash up on the park’s shoreline, the rock retaining wall built by the YHCC will help keep soil from washing away. To add to the picturesque look of the Pokagon shore, grass, weeds and flowers will be allowed to grow up naturally through the rocks.

When you visit Pokagon State Park, stroll along the shoreline of the group camp area and have a look at the handiwork of the YHCC. It’s a testament to the program's success that will continue to benefit the park for years to come.