Young Alaskans Explore National Park Careers…

...thru SCA's NPS Academy 2016

This month, a diverse group of young conservationists from all over Alaska gathered for a weeklong behind-the-scenes look at what goes into managing Kenai Fjords National Park. For the students involved, the event marked the beginning of their 2016 SCA-NPS Academy experience, which, in addition to this one week orientation, will include a three month summer internship at one of Alaska’s many National Park Service sites.

The goal of SCA-NPS Academy is to build a public lands workforce that accurately reflects the diversity of the nation by connecting young people of all backgrounds to career opportunities with the National Park Service. In Alaska, we focus specifically on students who have grown up in the state, ensuring that the local community continues to benefit from the many resources brought to the area by its vast network of federal public lands.

Each year we’re freshly inspired a new group of bright, energetic, and optimistic SCA-NPS Academy students, and 2016 is no exception. If you’re looking for a reason to believe that the future of conservation is in good hands, look no further than the photos and quotes below, collected from this month’s orientation at Kenai Fjords from students who will soon be serving in every corner of their home state.

Jonathan Loney, Kenai Fjords National Park Backcountry Intern (pictured above) – “This is an epically awesome program!!! Packed to the ears full of information and fun activities.  I would love to go through NPS Academy again.  Just make sure to drink a ton of coffee because the days feel long and at night we all hang out together. The NPS staff here are really cool and are willing to help explain the different aspects of serving in an internship or even the process of being hired by the National Park Service.  I can’t wait for my backcountry internship at Kenai Fjords National Park this summer.  What I am looking forward to the most is learning about the park and Seward, because I’ve never been to this part of Alaska.  A close second is getting trained to operate the boats and getting to know the seasonal and permanent staff.”

Tazheem Rubio, internship TBD – “Being immersed in nature is something that I have never been able to do before, but always wanted to experience.  Living in Alaska for most of my life, nature is constantly around me, but there is still the disconnect that occurs when living in an urban setting.  I’m excited to push myself out of my regular boundaries, which I believe will be an extremely valuable experience.”

Cayla Rogers, Western Arctic National Park Lands Wildlife Intern – “I am most looking forward to exploring a new area and gaining skills in the field.  I am excited to work in a job that I am passionate about.  I want to learn everything that I can and apply it toward jobs in the future.” 

Diego Madrid, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve Fisheries Intern (above, 2nd from L)– “Since I got to the Academy, my excitement to be out in the field has grown.  While I am still nervous about being in an unfamiliar place, the support and knowledge from NPS employees, as well as SCA members, reassures me that my experience is going to be one to remember.  I’m looking forward to making new friends and connections, learning new techniques in fisheries, and working with sockeye salmon.”

For highlights and student quotes from this year’s Grand Teton National Park SCA-NPS Academy orientation, head here and here.