By George McDonald, Youth Programs Manager, NPS
Secretary Ken Salazar has created the Department of the Interior 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps initiative in order to energize youth involvement on public lands and create more informed citizens and stewards of those lands. The Department seeks to engage, educate, and develop new generations of Americans with an ethic for conservation and resource stewardship. This program is part of the Youth and Careers in Nature subcategory of the 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps initiative, which is designed to get young people to aspire for careers in public service, by working in a variety of career fields in public land management agencies. The Department has allotted the National Park Service $5 million in FY 2010 to launch the NPS Youth Intern Program (YIP). At this time we are only entertaining projects for FY 2010.
The YIP is designed to introduce youth 15-25 years of age to career opportunities through internships related to the various NPS career fields. This program is designed to reach students early in their career decision-making process, and involve these students in real, intellectually challenging assignments that allow these students to work side-by-side with park staff on projects that provide career and educational opportunities in resource protection, research, visitor experience and other occupations at NPS sites. Students will also learn about multiple career opportunities throughout the National Park System and the Department of the Interior.
This program is also designed to serve as a recruitment tool to help diversify our workforce and foster resource stewardship of our parks. Youth participants will have an opportunity to not only realize valuable work experience, but will also develop an understanding of, an appreciation for the National Park Service mission of preserving unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.
According the United States Office of Personnel Management, the business case for diversity has two significant elements. First, the labor market has become increasing competitive. The National Park Service must use every available source of candidates to ensure that we have a high-quality workforce that helps us to meet our mission to the American public. If NPS fails to take steps to recruit among the full spectrum of the American population, we will miss a valuable strategic opportunity.
Second, the changing demographics of America mean that the public served by the Federal Government is also changing. When we recruit and retain an inclusive workforce—one that looks like the America we serve—and when individual differences are respected, appreciated, and valued, diversity becomes an organizational strength that contributes to achieving results. Diversity enables the NPS to better serve the taxpayer by reflecting the customers and communities we serve.
Special emphasis should be placed on recruiting candidates from socially and economically diverse backgrounds. Parks are encouraged to recruit candidates for this program through partnerships with but not limited to:
Regions are required to develop organizational mentoring programs to be carried out at the regional or park level that will promote the youth participant’s personal growth and development. Mentoring programs can help to integrate these youth participants into the NPS culture and help to provide a nurturing and open environment for these young people. Additionally NPS employees who participate in the mentoring program can use this experience as a career developmental opportunity especially for those interested in moving into supervisory or management positions. Funds provided to the regions can be used for training and hiring staff consultants to assist with mentoring and supervision.
NPS Youth Intern Program participants can be hired though the use of the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). Students are eligible under these authorities if they are:
NPS Youth Intern Program also allows parks and program offices to utilize non-profit youth serving organizations to provide participants through cooperative agreements. Examples include utilizing the Student Conservation Association, National Hispanic Environmental Council, Greening Youth Foundation, the Chicago Botanical Gardens or university partners to provide qualified youth participants to work on specific projects.
You are required to respond to criteria questions in order to compete for YIP funding. This criteria is as follows:
You are asked to put your responses to these criteria questions within the additional criteria section of any component which is proposed to compete for YIP funding. The additional criteria icon () can be selected after you have locked your park priority listing and designated the appropriate eligible funding category/categories for your component. An example of what you must enter into the additional criteria section is provided in the screen shot below:
Language connecting this program to the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 requires that these funds be accounted for separately. As the YIP is new to NPS, it is particularly important that we have accurate and detailed accounting of how these funds are spent. Proper evaluation of this program especially in its first year is very important. The following template should be used for reporting YIP activities for FY 2010. The WASO YIP Program Manager will send a template to all regional youth coordinators at the end of FY 2010. The regional youth coordinators are asked to forward this template to any FY 2010 recipients of YIP funding. All YIP completion reports are due on October 31. The report will ask these recipients to respond to the following points:
Recipients are to fill out the template and upload the final product to the NPS Focus system. Then the recipients must link to the uploaded document through their PMIS status and completion reports.
If you have any questions concerning the program elements and/or reporting requirements, please contact George McDonald, Youth Programs Manager, 202-513-7146 or email firstname.lastname@example.org