The ninth consecutive NPS Academy Spring Break Session kicked off this month in Grand Teton National Park with an inspiring group of motivated young individuals. This year’s participants come in with a little more national park experience than in previous years, and they are eager to get their foot-in-the-door and learn about working for the park service. Members of the class of 2019 come from a wide range of backgrounds and represent places like Alabama, California, Ohio, Utah, North Carolina, and Kentucky. This year for the first time, the park is partnering with American Conservation Experience (ACE) to implement programming.
The 2019 incoming class was treated to an introductory session with Robert Stanton, the first African American to be appointed as director of the National Park Service. Each of the five days of the students’ spring break in Grand Teton had a theme, such as Connecting to People and Place and Culture and People as a Lens to Understand Place. Throughout the week they worked on individual challenge projects, took time for personal reflection, and explored different departments in the park. The week concluded with presentations, evaluations, and closing words from Laura Herrin, president of American Conservation Experience.
NPS Academy began in 2011 with eight participants. The class of 2019 consists of 15 new young stewards and two returning mentors. Every year, the program includes separate phases to assist academy members along their path toward a possible career with the National Park Service. After this month’s spring break phase, students will be placed in internships in national park sites around the U.S. with many of them returning to the Tetons. They will spend their summers working in various departments including interpretation, vegetation management, geographic information systems, social sciences, and wildlife management to name a few.
Congratulations to this year’s participants — we wish them all the best as they embark on their internships this summer.