SCA NW Nominated for NPS Director’s Award


Mount Rainier Recognizes SCA Northwest’s Contributions through NPS Director’s Partnership Award

The National Park Service Director’s Partnership Award annually recognizes the outstanding accomplishments and/or lifetime achievements carried out by national park partners nationwide, everyday. It’s a great honor to SCA’s Community Crew program to be nominated by our long time partner Mount Rainier National Park. 

Thirty years ago, in 1984, the Seattle office of the Student Conservation Association (SCA) launched an initiative to reach out to community youth, especially those in culturally and economically diverse neighborhoods, and to create opportunities for them to participate in conservation leadership in and around Seattle. Today the program serves almost 100 high school-age students every year, and has expanded to include youth from nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). Students participate during the school year in after-school and weekend projects, mostly in their own neighborhoods building trails and restoring parks, waterfronts, and urban landscapes, then join summer crews that spend two to six weeks working onsite in settings like Mount Rainier National Park. They learn about their environment through their conservation service, and through field trips and camping expeditions, exploring green jobs and career opportunities, gaining skills, and learning ways to give back to their community. 

SCA first brought Community Crews to Mount Rainier National Park in 1994, and since 2000 has fielded an average of three 15-day crews per year. Participants have constructed, rebuilt, repaired, and maintained dozens of miles of trail: creating tread, installing water bars, constructing retaining walls, building bridges, clearing brush, laying gravel, planting and transplanting native species, and digging out hundreds of stumps and boulders. After Mount Rainier’s floods in 2006, Community Crews almost single-handedly rebuilt almost four miles of the Wonderland Trail above Longmire and helped reconstruct the Glacier Basin Trail.

Even more important than the program’s construction statistics, SCA’s Community Crews have introduced generations of students – and often their families and peers – to a lifetime of stewardship. Many graduates of the program go on to serve on SCA national crews, as SCA interns in positions around the country, and most significantly, as seasonal and permanent employees with the National Park Service and other agencies. 

Since 1984, SCA has introduced over 750 students to conservation leadership at Mount Rainier National Park. Over the past decade alone those students have contributed 29,600 hours of service at the park. This investment in the park’s natural, cultural, and human resources will pay dividends for generations to come.
In order for the National Park Service to fully realize its mission, it must achieve the full support and participation of the American people. SCA’s Community Crews, and their outreach to culturally and economically diverse youth, are invaluable partners with the National Park Service in reaching that goal. Young people who served on Community Crews at Mount Rainier 30 years ago are today career employees at parks around the country. This summer’s crew members from Seattle and JBLM will, thirty years from now, be serving in positions of leadership at Manzanar and Gettysburg and Yosemite. Others will be community leaders, supporting conservation and stewardship in neighborhoods from Anchorage to Miami. Many of them will trace their roots back to Seattle, and to fifteen days spent on a Community Crew at Mount Rainier National Park directed by the Student Conservation Association.