SCA-NPS Academy 2016…

...connects NPS with a new generation of conservationists.

ABOVE: SCA-NPS Academy 2016 students take a snowshoe hike through Grand Teton National Park. Photo by Manuel Valtierra

Text by SCA Program Assistant Cori Rendon

This weekend students from communities all over America will travel to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming to participate in the first phase of SCA’s 2016 NPS Academy. NPS Academy is an annual collaboration between NPS and SCA that exposes young conservationists from diverse backgrounds to careers within the National Park Service. The program beings with a week-long orientation and continues through the summer when participants are placed in 12-week SCA AmeriCorps internships at National Park sites across the country.

Throughout Week 1, participants will gain a behind-the-scenes look at Grand Teton and participate in various demonstrations with NPS staff, including a wildland fire response simulation, a tracking techniques workshop with Wildlife Biologists, and an expert look at the park’s museum collections with the Cultural Resource Management team. Beyond the park, students will visit the nearby National Elk Refuge to learn more about the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, and collaborate with the Jackson Hole community by tackling challenge projects designed to have students pitch solutions for the park’s most pressing problems. 

2015 NPS Academy alum Jeremy Taitano returns to Grand Teton this year as a leader and a mentor. 2015 SCA-NPS Academy alum Jeremy Taitano returns to Grand Teton this year as a leader and a mentor. 

The very next weekend, another SCA-NPS Academy orientation will convene at Kenai Fjords National Park, this one drawing students from all over the great State of Alaska for a similar curriculum, including such only-in-Alaska type activities as touring the world famous Alaska Sealife Center, volunteering in an ANILCA National Park, and taking a boat trip to go whale watching and see a glacier.

Now in its sixth year, the SCA-NPS Academy aims to better ensure the future of U.S. public lands by building a National Park Service workforce that truly reflects the diversity of the population it serves. From documenting the historic cannons and artillery at San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico to monitoring endangered amphibians in Yosemite National Park, SCA-NPS Academy interns are equipped with the skills, insight, confidence, and knowledge to become lifelong public lands stewards and pursue careers with NPS.

Keep scrolling for photos from this year’s SCA-NPS Academy orientation at Grand Teton National Park

Jumping in snowshoes at Grand Teton National Park.Photo: Manuel Valtierra

SCA-NPS Academy alum Millie Jimenez now serves as Diversity Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator at Grand Teton National Park.SCA-NPS Academy alum Millie Jimenez (left) now serves as Diversity Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator at Grand Teton. Photo: Nancy Fernandez

Ranger pointing out signs of wildlife at Grand Teton National Park. Photo: Manuel Valtierra

NPS Academy student measuring moose forage at Grand Teton National Park.NPS Academy student preparing to measure moose forage at Grand Teton National Park. Photo: Manuel Valtierra

NPS Academy students measuring moose forage at Grand Teton National Park.…And the actual measuring. Photo: Manuel Valtierra

The most stoic of group pics. Photo: Manuel Valtierra