NEW SMYRNA BEACH – With a mission of building the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire stewardship of the environment, 12 teens spent six weeks learning and working at Cape Canaveral National Seashore this summer.
“We’ve partnered with the park to run some conservation internships for college students/grads as well as the summer high school conservation crews,” explained Nikole Duvalle, local leader of the national non-profit Student Conservation Association.
“There are multiple goals for the high school conservation crew program including, but not limited to, providing labor to complete necessary work around the park, work skill instruction and experience for the youth, exposure to careers in the conservation field, and place-based history and environmental education,” she continued. “Our goal is to help them understand the value of the national park system and how they can be a part of it.”
With a full agenda of activities that spanned building turtle nest screens, cleaning bathrooms, removal of dune fencing, office organization to canoeing in Mosquito Lagoon and visiting other historical sites, the entire team was exposed to the a wide variety of park needs.
For 18-year-old Kali Campbell, this is her second summer working at the park and she intends to make preserving the environment a lifelong way of life.
“We spent a lot of time working with on restoring oyster beds,” she said with a smile. “We worked taking off the top layer of the sun bleached oyster bed and put down mesh mats that had new oysters zip tied to them in order to caret a new base for a new oyster bed.”
Planning on obtaining her associate’s degree before declaring her major in two more years, Campbell went on to say that she heard about this program at school and decided to apply. “My favorite part of the summer has been learning about the turtles that come ashore along this part of the coast. We even had a chance to see two turtle hatchlings rescued from a nest that had been destroyed.”
Duvalle said the SCA program does more than teach teens about the lagoon and how to care for it.