National park interns offer cultural touch
With more than 400 national parks in the United States, it was a competitive process to secure two bilingual interns for Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
Two interns at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park are spearheading various educational and cultural programs that have never been done before at the park.
Nancy Fernandez and Salvador Ornelas, both Hispanic and bilingual, have worked on several community outreach projects, including recruiting children of migrant workers to summer camps and leading bilingual kayak tours and hikes.
Fernandez is an intern through the Student Conservation Association, which places 100 interns each year in national parks across the country.
Ornelas is a Latino heritage intern through the Environment for the Americas, which places 20 interns in national parks.
Scott Tucker, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park superintendent, said he had to submit two applications to the National Park Service offices sponsoring the two internships. Both applications focused on Hispanic outreach, bilingual program creation and health and wellness.
With more than 400 national parks in the United States, Tucker said, it was a competitive process to secure the two interns.
“So far this summer, I am beyond happy,” Tucker said. “The experience, creativity and passion these two interns have brought to the NPS family will be felt for years here in the park and the community.”
Representation of diversity
Fernandez has been busy translating fliers and other information for the Spanish-speaking community in Clatsop County letting them know what is going on at the park.
This week, Fernandez’s work led to seven children in the Northwest Regional Migrant Education program taking part in the park’s Nature Survival Camp. It will be the first time children in the migrant education program have come to the camp.
“Seven may sound like a small number, but to go from zero Hispanic participants in 2014 to 25 percent of the camp participants in 2015 is an amazing connection and representation of the diversity of the local community,” Tucker said.
Fernandez said she sees the outreach as causing a domino effect where the children will start encouraging their parents to come to the park, and soon more Hispanic families will visit.
“What we are trying to do is show them we are from the same community, and they feel more comfortable that way visiting,” Fernandez said. “Especially for the parents knowing their children can communicate with us.”
Fernandez was originally brought in as a “Healthy Park” intern, tasked with finding ways to promote the park as a place where people can get healthy.