Written by SCA alumni and recruiting reps Beth McCarthy, and Deanna Wyatt.
The second extension of SCA's NPS Academy, a program designed to promote diversity within the National Park Service took place at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Thirty students from across the US joined together to learn about conservation and the different divisions and opportunities within the National Park Service.
Enthusiasm among the students was amazingly high throughout the week. The days started early and went late and although there were a few stifled yawns each morning at breakfast, you didn't hear any complaints because the days were jam-packed with fun, engaging and exploratory opportunities to create enthusiastic future conservation leaders. The moon was often still out when we walked to breakfast.
One of the members commented, "I bet a lot of people don't get to see things like this because they stay in their car. I'm glad we are outside so we get to see this."
Wednesday was excursion day! Our morning was spent enjoying the beauty that is the Great Smoky Mountains. The group split into two where some went biking and others went hiking.
The bike trip included an eight mile bike ride with two other SCA staff and 10 members in Cades Cove, a site in the park that is visited by over two million visitors a year. The students made sure to stop and check out the sites along the ride. While we were taking our lunch break, we saw some animal tracks in the mud.
For 20 other members, the morning consisted of a two-mile hike to one of the Smoky's most scenic views, the Chimney Tops. Those two-miles was no walk in the park, unless your typical walk in the park consist of a 1300ft elevation gain and a bit of bouldering. Nevertheless, the reward was well worth the climb. Upon reaching the summit of the Chimney Tops Trail, we settled down to enjoy our lunch of tuna sandwiches against a beautiful background. The shared sentiment echoed among us was that this was one of the best lunches we had ever had... the tuna had nothing to do with it. But rather it was the enjoyment of the fruit of our efforts and doing so in the company of good people and spectacular views.
"This was my first time hiking, but it taught me a lifelong lesson to never giv eup going up the mountain...like in life, never give up no matter how steep it gets," said an NPS Academy member after hiking at the Smokys.
Thursday, we learned more about NPS careers, including search and rescue, fire, backcountry patrol, GPS and mapping, and the park natural collections. The NPS staff we met was enthusiastic to talk about their jobs, and the members enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at potential future careers.
Friday afternoon was Community Service Day, where the groups were able to participate in various projects around the area, including trail work and litter cleanup. We joined members as they interacted with kindergartners, first and second grade students at the local elementary school.
An Academy member and her two enthusiastic elementary students discover insects.
Each Academy member took on two students, and equipped with a shifter, aspirator, and a clipboard tallied the insects they "discovered" and set out to take a closer look at the world of insects in their own backyard.
An Academy member overlooks asstudents further investiage contents gathered via their aspirator, or better known to the elementary students as the "sucky-uppy thing."
Closing ceremonies, though bitter sweet, were full of laughs. Friday night kicked off with students sharing their field group presentations. Students boldly presented skits of their group themes to their peers, and to renowned members of the park service such as the NPS Southeast's regional director David Vela, the superintendent of Blue Ridge Parkway Phil Francis, Deputy Superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains Kevin Fitzgerald, and Superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains Dale Ditmanson.
It was definitely a week to remember for program participants. We found leaving Friday night hard to do. The bond that these students shared after only one short week and their enthusiasm for National Park Service careers was obvious. We had a long drive ahead of us, but our drive that night to the Chattanooga airport was made bearable by our reminiscing of moments with participants, the laughs over the closing skits, and our knowledge that this week was only the beginning of an amazing conservation career for these members.
Written by Evan Escamilla, SCA alum '10 and '11 and current SCA recruiter.
What an amazing couple of days it has been here in the Tetons! From Sunday, March 4th to Saturday, March 10th, a diverse group of students from all over the country descended upon Grand Teton National Park for the launch of the NPS Academy, a joint program by SCA and the National Park Service, aimed at building “a 21st century workforce for America’s national parks: highly motivated, contemporarily skilled and ethnically diverse.”
And what a week it was! The students were inspiring and inspired; The scenery was breath-taking; the wildlife awing…and a bit too close at times.NPS Deputy Director of Communications and Community Mickey Fern’s quote during one of the panel sessions captures how most people felt during the week, “Thank you for inviting me. It’s been the best four days of my life since I joined the park service.”
A group photo of NPS Academy 2012 members at Grand Teton National Park. This week marked the beginning of a personal and professional adventure for most of these students.
A bull elk at the National Elk Refuge from the horse drawn sleigh ride tour. The National Elk Refuge feed 5,000 - 7,000 elk at any given day this time of year. Elk come from as far as 70 miles away in Yellowstone to be fed. This controversial practices has been going on for 100 years as a way to manage the elk in search of food from coming into Jackson Hole. The elk have lost 75% of their habitat to humans.
Two bull elk engage in social clash of their antlers. As it is not yet mating season, there is no need for these elk to engage each other in a battle using up their energy. This bull elk were playfully wrestling with their antlers.
A heard of 50+ bison met us on the road after tubing. The students were all in the 3 vans behind me. I heard some bison even rubbed up against one of the vans! One students said he was almost moved to tears at the sight of this heard with the Tetons in the background. For everyone this was a highlight of the day. I rolled down my window and grabbed these from the driver seat of my vehicle. Most of us laughed slack jawed in amazement.
Snow tubing at Snow King in Jackson Hole after spending some time walking around town.
Would you believe the students all look this awake and enthusiastic at 10:00pm after a packed day of engaging activities.
NPS Academy facilitator and past NPS superintendent Gerard Baker wore his bear coat and coyote hat to the campfire at the Murie Center. He spoke of his family and the history of his native american people the Mandan-Hidatsa Indian. He was featured in the PBS special on National Parks - though he has since retired.
With a fire in the fireplace and wood stove, we all gathered around Burton Pretty on Top, Cultural Director of the Crow Tribe, huddled close on couches, chairs, and the floor as a family. Mr. Pretty on Top shared stories of serving your neighbors, treating others with respect, honoring your culture and ancestry and gave us the great honor of praying for each one of us individually.
The energy and emotion in the room was palpable. Members of the academy volunteered one by one to share their thoughts and feelings with the group. This group of strangers, just 5 days before, each experienced this week uniquely. One by one, as members volunteered to share their thoughts and feelings, I learned that for some this week represented an inspirational oasis from life's challenges. It brought altering or affirming emotions towards past decisions and future plans. Over and over I listened to stories of barriers being broken down as students stepped out of their comfort zone and into the camaraderie of their peers.
An SCA and Southwest Airlines Tour40 video was just submitted to the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship International Film Festival...and we'd love your vote!
The Center for Corporate Citizenship’s annual Film Festival provides companies with an opportunity to demonstrate how they have utilized video as a communication tool. Last year over 25,000 employees and partners viewed the videos in the 2011 Film Festival and voted for their favorite. Public voting will take place on this website from February 14 - March 3, 2012 to narrow the field to ten finalists. The ten finalists will be reviewed by a panel of judges to choose the winner. The winner of the Film Festival will be announced during the 2012 International Corporate Citizenship Conference, March 25-27, in Phoenix. All ten finalists will be available for viewing and showcased before the 600 corporate citizenship professionals in attendance.
Watch the video and vote online!
Written by Lauren Freedman Whittlesey, SCA '10 alum, Alternative Spring Break in the Grand Canyon. Lauren turned her internship into a green job with SCA working in various capacities for the Marketing and Advancement teams. She is now the Corporate Events Coordinator.
As most young job-seekers have learned, simply having an education is not enough to get a job, let alone a great, green job these days. Whether you’re looking for a job with a corporation, a non-profit, or the government, chances are you’ll need to get some real world experience as an intern before you can land your dream job.
Interns not only learn how their academic curriculum can be applied in a modern workplace, but they also gain the critical workplace skills that employers are looking for. These include working as part of a team, meeting deadlines, managing multiple projects, creative thinking, and problem solving. Internships also help students learn about job opportunities available to recent graduates and provide real workplace references.
Lauren Freedman Whittlesey during her SCA Alternative Spring Break program.
Student Conservation Association alum Todd Nelson is now the Volunteer Resource Program Coordinator at Grand Canyon National Park. After his three-month SCA internship at Saguaro National Park, Todd knew that he had found his career path. “My SCA internship got me into the Park Service. Once I had my foot in the door, I was able to find my niche there,” Todd says.
Todd advises interns to diversify their experience to make themselves more marketable. “While you’re an intern, make sure you take any training that is offered. Even if it’s outside of the field you are working in, you can get a bigger picture of your agency and learn from new opportunities. Learning new skills can open the door for jobs you didn’t even know existed.”
Paul Loesch was one of the first 10 interns to take part in the SCA and ARAMARK Environmental Sustainability Internship program. Working with ARAMARK at Baylor University in Texas, Paul organized Baylor’s Energy Awareness Month, which included an energy conservation competition. He also developed energy awareness materials that addressed energy efficiency standards and procedures. Paul, an SCA alumnus, is a LEED accredited professional and also worked on certifying high performance green buildings on campus. “This internship taught me a huge amount about the practical application of sustainability initiatives in facilities management. I had a chance to learn a lot about automation systems, commercial HVAC, and general facilities management processes,” Paul says.
Paul Loesch monitors energy consumption at Balyor University as an SCA-Aramark environmental sustainability intern.
Paul points out that he had an opportunity to affect change in a big way, while also gaining skills that he was able to leverage into a full-time job in environmental compliance with ARAMARK. “Many graduates have a strong desire to be involved in something meaningful and get good experience, and the internship program does a fine job of providing these opportunities. The interns get quality training, and ARAMARK and its clients get a fresh set of eyes, hungry for environmentally positive results. I had superb support from ARAMARK’s corporate sustainability folks, and Baylor’s forward thinking approach created an environment where I really felt like my work was inspiring positive change.”
An internship can provide you with a foot in the door and the experience you need to start your career in conservation. It’ll prove to your potential employer that you are truly dedicated to the field. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you leverage your internship into a great job:
Are you ready to find the right internship to launch your career in conservation? SCA is posting new internships daily at http://www.thesca.org/serve/internships.
Written by Nelson Bruni, SCA alum and staff member. Nelson has been working in the SCA Equipment Warehouse since 2004, where he is responsible for maintaining, purchasing, repairing, and shipping gear for almost all SCA field programs. Nelson also assists in the training of SCA Crew Leaders, not only in the world of gear, but also as a Conservation Work Skills Instructor. In addition to his full time work at SCA, Nelson is a Veteran Crew Leader (9 crews!), an alumni of both the Big Cypress Restoration Corps and the NH Parks AmeriCorps, and as a Recruiting Intern with SCA.
Now, when you find yourself on a plane to Salt Lake City on the third Thursday of January, it’s almost guaranteed that you will not only find yourself seated next to those seeking snowy lands, you are also going to find yourself next to someone who is getting ready to head up to Park City for that movie scene lover’s dream- the Sundance Film Festival. On that same plane, tucked away behind the gentleman with the BYU hat, you will find another ‘scene-ster’, the person dressed in some of the finest brands of outdoor gear, on their way to the Salt Palace and the twice a year gathering of lots of gear and lots of gear-heads, the Outdoor Retailer Show.
For four days, while Park City is filled to the brim with Hollywood Stars and Directors and the Paparazzi, just about every outdoor company in the US and Canada is doing its best to showcase their newest products, building up hype by bringing in the rising stars and the honored legends of the climbing and skiing world, giving away all sorts of great SWAG (Stuff We All Get); pretty much doing just about anything they can do to get you over to their booth.
And now you ask, ‘What does this have to do with SCA’? For the past eight years, I’ve been lucky enough to be SCA’s Equipment Manager, meaning that I supply a majority of the camping, cooking, and first aid supplies for the entire organization, which in turn means that I purchase large portions of gear from many of the same companies that attend the OR Show. So, for the past five years, I’ve made the pilgrimage out to SLC, meeting with the representatives of the companies that supply most of our programs gear, while at the same time keeping an eye out for other companies that can provide new and innovative products that will improve our programs. And, of course, for a self-confessed gear head, I have a lot of fun getting to meet with fellow gear-heads and looking at and trying out all of this cool stuff!
Nelson working at SCA's equipment cache getting ready for thousands of SCA members' summer in the field.
From the beginning, the show is always a bit of a shock- you find yourself in a sea of people, trying to get your bearings, using the larger companies’ showcase booths as reference points of a sort, and trying to keep track of how long it takes you to get from the big Mammut blow-up mammoth mascot to Royal Robbins’ espresso bar, just so you can make sure you won’t be late to your meeting at Sierra Designs. So, in general, a lot of the time is just spent wandering about, getting used to the flow, and finding your way to where you need to go.
But, despite the constant wandering and excitement of playing with all this gear, the most important aspect of my visits is just to meet with the companies we work with and to let them know just how much their products help make sure our people in the field have a dry, comfortable, and safe SCA experience. I’ve been meeting with many of these folk for all five years and they’ve become more than just business associates and more like partners, wanting to know how our programs are doing, how they can assist, and always wanting to make sure we have what we need. It’s quite reassuring to see these companies so invested in our programs and enjoying the fact that it’s their tents, sleeping bags, stoves, backpacks, and clothing that is ensuring a certain amount of success for our members in the field.
SCA's stash of Sierra Design sleeping bags ready for use.
In the end, after a few days of being surrounded by all this gear and being in constant gear related conversations, I easily find myself in gear-overload. As I leave the show and head to the airport, my bags are a little heavier with swag, stickers, and catalogs, and my mind is filled with all sorts of ideas for how to get even more good gear in the field for our SCA members, but now it’s time to head back to New Hampshire and the Equipment Warehouse and to turn those thoughts into action.
So, do you want to know the scoop in next year’s gear? Check out my top 3 buzzworthy Gear or Displays.