Grand Teton Hosts Thirteenth Year of NPS Academy

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“The National Park Service has been around for over a century, and we can play a part in keeping that legacy alive. That’s why it’s so important to bring new perspectives and ideas to the table. We are all stewards of our public lands, and it’s up to us to preserve and protect them for future generations.” – Linda Garcia, NPSA Peer Mentor

Grand Teton National Park hosted their thirteenth cohort of NPS Academy (NPSA) the week of March 6. The NPSA was established in 2011 to address the park service’s goal of building a workforce that better reflects our country’s population. Young adults participate in a spring break orientation in Grand Teton to learn about NPS career opportunities, followed by a twelve-week summer internship in a national park. Embodying different ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds, participants bring new energy, skills, and perspectives to park leadership. The Foundation has supported this effort since it first began.

In early March, this year’s participants came from all across the US to explore the snow covered Teton landscape for a one-week orientation prior to their upcoming summer internship. The cohort consisted of nineteen participants and four peer mentors.

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Former NPS Director Robert G. Stanton, the first African American to be appointed to the position, opened the week with a speech that inspired participants to think about their role in the legacy of the NPS. His path began in Grand Teton, just like the individuals sitting in the audience, which led to an encouraging feeling of possibility. 

Snowshoe hikes, career sessions with NPS staff, an alumni panel, and interactive dialogues, among other activities, filled the group's time in the park. Participants finished their orientation with a better understanding of the NPS mission and values, examples of career opportunities within the agency, and skills that will prepare them for their summer experience. Eight of the participants will complete their internship in Grand Teton, the rest will work in Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Mount Rainier, Acadia, and Glacier national parks. The internships will range from interpretation, wildlife, and plant biology to wildland fire, information technology, public affairs, and social science. 

“In a week, nineteen total strangers grew into a familiar cohort. Re-dispersing across the country, …the members of NPSA’s thirteenth cohort move forward individually but also as part of something bigger. Continuing onward, embodying the themes of connection, diversity, and legacy that lie at the core of this program, this group will venture out with momentum. They have their peers, leadership, NPSA alumni, and greater NPSA network right there in their corner. While the week in the Tetons has wrapped, the cohort has an exciting summer season on the horizon.” – Tai Vugia, 2023 NPSA Peer Mentor

We wish all of this year’s NPSA interns all the best as they embark on their unique adventures this summer! Thanks to all of our supporters and partners who we collaborate with every year to make this program possible: National Park Service, American Conservation Experience, and Teton Science Schools.

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