By Lynda Lohr
Thanks to hard work by a group of eight students from the Virgin Islands and the mainland, V.I. National Park's Lind Point Trail is getting a face lift through the Student Conservation Association.
"I wanted to try something new," said Chenoa Lee, 15. "I'm having a lot of fun."
The students are wearing hard hats, hefting pick axes and moving big rocks to make one of the park's most popular and accessible trails safer for visitors and locals to use. They arrived June 11 and will depart July 10.
Lee and Krystal Lanclos, 15, both attend Country Day School on St. Croix. Jamall Marsh, 17, is a recent graduate of St. Croix Educational Complex. Shantal Brown, 18, and Michael Abraham, 17, are the St. Thomas contingent. Both graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School.Mainland students include Alyssa Epstein, 17, from Boca Raton, Fla.; Lucy Green, 17, of McLean, Va.; and Janos Arnosky, 17, of Blanko, Texas.
Arnsoky is carrying on a family tradition.
"My parents had been crew leaders and all my siblings had done trips," he said Wednesday.
While some of the students said they aren't sure what they want to do when it comes to their careers, Arnosky has fairly firm plans. He wants to work with the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, both federal agencies that deal with the outdoors. If it works out, Arnosky said he'd like to be a pilot with one of those agencies.
Crew-leader duties are split between a St. John resident and one from the mainland. Jason Siska, 24, is a teacher at St. John's Gifft Hill School.
"I really enjoy working with the park and giving back to the park," he said.
Kim Hirsch, 23, of Boston, is on her second stint as a Student Conservation Association crew leader, but she also was a student participant when she was younger.
"It's a really good program, and you get to meet people you wouldn't normally meet," she said.
While the mainland students are volunteers, those from the Virgin Islands get a $1,000 stipend to use for their education. Included in the program are meals, tent accommodations at Cinnamon Bay Campground and other activities.
For some, it's their first experience sleeping in a tent.
"The tent is all right, but not what I'm used to," Marsh said.
The program is funded to the tune of about $30,000 through the Friends of the Park group. Program Manager Audrey Penn said the Student Conservation Association program is paid for by an anonymous donor, but the Friends still need to raise an additional $2,000 toward the stipends. Penn also hopes that someone will volunteer to take the students out on a boat trip.
Penn sees that the program broadens the horizons for the St. Croix and St. Thomas participants who might not have much opportunity to visit St. John and learn about the park.
"And it's a cross-cultural experience," she said.
To learn more about the Friends, visit friendsvinp.org. For more on the Student Conservation Association, visit thesca.org.
To help fund this program, call the Friends at 779-4940.
Copyright 2009 St John Source