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Meet Yukary - Cultural Landscape Apprentice

Apprentice Yukary stands in front of a limestone wall with the bright white church facade in the background at Mission San Juan
Yukary Gomez is one of three Cultural Landscape Apprentices at San Antonio Missions in 2020.

NPS Photo.

Meet Yukary! She is one of four Cultural Landscape Apprentices at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Yukary works alongside National Park Service staff to learn important job skills and address deferred maintenance projects such as grounds and acequia preservation, irrigation system management, landscape bed rehabilitation, and associated tasks during their time at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. She is one of four apprentices who make up the 2021 Cultural Landscape Apprentice team. The Cultural Landscape Apprentice Program is specifically designed to engage local Latinx young adults ages 18-28 who are interested in developing career skills in preservation of cultural resources. The program is made possible in partnership with Mission Heritage Partners, National Park Foundation, and Texas Conservation Corps (American YouthWorks.)
Apprentice Yukary pulls the cord to start a chainsaw in a wooded area.

Where did you go to school?

I went to high school at William Howard Taft High School. I spent some time at Alamo Colleges and now I’m an upperclassman at UTSA.

What is your favorite part of the apprenticeship so far?

I would say that my favorite part has been the inclusivity. The staff really took us in as part of the team when it comes to teamwork and safety on projects like pruning, weed whacking, and acequia work.
Apprentice Yukary squats to use a chainsaw in a wooded area.
Apprentices help to address deferred maintenance projects such as grounds & acequia preservation, irrigation system management, landscape bed rehabilitation, and more.

NPS Photo

What is your best memory in a national park?

My family and I would visit national parks when I was a kid. When my cousins came over as a kid, we would go visit San Antonio Missions in the morning and then have a big barbeque afterward.

Why is cultural resource management important?

Cultural resource management is important because it’s preservation of time. We’re not just preserving the buildings but also preserving the landscape. We’re helping to share with people what it was like back then, in the mission period.
Interns carry large brush out of the historic acequia ditch.

NPS Photo.

What is one thing you hope to learn in this apprenticeship?

I really am interested in learning how field work is actually done. I want to get a feel for working in the natural environment with tools.

What are your future career goals?

Right now, I’m getting my bachelors degree in Environmental Sciences, and I want to know if specializing in conservation management would be a good fit for me.
Cultural Landscape Apprentices and Park Rangers pose in front of Mission San Jose.

NPS Photo.

What is one thing you hope to learn in this apprenticeship?

I really am interested in learning how field work is actually done. I want to get a feel for working in the natural environment with tools.

What are your future career goals?

Right now, I’m getting my bachelors degree in Environmental Sciences, and I want to know if specializing in conservation management would be a good fit for me.
Green fig leaf in foreground and grey/ tan sidewalk in background.
Cultural Landscape Apprentices help to preserve the beautiful landscape of San Antonio Missions NHP.

NPS Photo.

How will your experience as a Cultural Landscape Apprentice help you to achieve these goals?

This apprenticeship will give me experience in cultural resource management and help me to decide if specializing in cultural resource management in school would be a good fit for me. It’ll also give me experience in a professional work environment, how different people work and what jobs people do in the field.

What advice do you have for current students interested in pursuing cultural and natural resource management?

My advice would be to go for it. If it seems interesting, even if you don’t have all the qualifications, go for it. Apply for things, and the worst thing that they could say is no. If they say no, then at least you learn a bit about where you stand and what to improve. Just jump in!
Limestone half-walls in foreground surrounded by green grass. Mission San Juan white limestone church facade in background.

NPS Photo.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like gardening and arts and crafts. Sometimes I’ll paint, crochet, and knit. In the future, I really want to get into resin art and start preserving flowers and other plants with resin.

What is your favorite tool that you will use during the apprenticeship?

I’d probably say a chainsaw because it’s so powerful!

If you were stuck on an island, what three things would you bring with you?

I would bring a tent, a lighter, and a handsaw.

Last updated: April 2, 2021