Staffing Shortages

‘We Need Everybody': Connecticut State Parks Work to Recruit Lifeguards, Staff

DEEP's state park lifeguard program is looking to fill positions at eight different locations across the state.

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You’re definitely not alone if summer is on your mind; the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is already planning for the warm months ahead by amping up staff-recruitment measures.

"We're always looking for new staff. It's something we do year after year just because of the turn-over rate," said Sarah Battistini, Connecticut's Water Safety Coordinator for DEEP's state park division.

The need for staff this season is great, considering there are positions open at eight swimming areas across the state, from East Lyme to New Fairfield.

"We have noticed because I've been coming here for years that there hasn't been much staff here. We've also camped here," said Robin Heath from Chaplin, who regular visits Rocky Neck State Park with her grandchildren.

Battistini said she needs 100 lifeguards to adequately staff Connecticut's state parks. That's roughly four to six lifeguards on-duty at a time, so swimmers can enjoy the water and know that someone is looking out for their safety.

"The whole point of lifeguarding is prevention and preventing people from putting themselves in situations," said State Beach Director Gretchen Stelter.

Stelter has been a state lifeguard for the past seven years, covering Rocky Neck and Hammonasset state parks. She's hoping to recruit more lifeguards, especially with the state offering a competitive wage: $16 an hour and paid training through the American Red Cross. 

Those interested can also apply to be park rangers, maintenance, ticket booth and campgrounds staff.

"We need everybody," said Battistini.

The lifeguard shortage is felt across the board. The city of Hartford is also trying to staff its pools, as Mayor Luke Bronin said earlier this week.

"We're hiring more. It's a competitive market out there, but we want everybody to know that lifeguarding is a great job opportunity," said Bronin.

Applicants need to be 16 or older to apply. The application deadline is June 17.

Until then, state park employees will be gearing up for their Memorial Day Weekend opening.

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