Students Contemplate Future Fire and Aviation Careers in the National Park Service

Everglades National Park Fire and Aviation staff participated in the Waterstone Charter School’s Career Week on May 13, 2014. National Park staff flew a Bell 206 L3 helicopter to the school in neighboring Homestead, Florida, where more than 1,100 students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade had the opportunity to tour the helicopter and learn about National Park Service jobs in fire and aviation management.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the students in our community. Mary March, dean of academics for the Charter School at Waterstone.

group of students sitting in front of a helicopter listening to the pilot
Waterstone Charter School students tour NPS helicopter with Andrew Gill, helicopter manager (left), Fred Goodwin, NPS pilot (right).

NPS / Clayton Camblin

The career day provided an opportunity to increase awareness of Everglades National Park and enhance the connection with densely populated, diverse communities near the park. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the students in our community,” said Mary March, dean of academics for the Charter School at Waterstone. “Since the Everglades is a large part of our community, it was great for them to see firsthand how they affect and can help protect the Everglades.”

“It was a great opportunity to demonstrate how important their studies are for our daily jobs,”, said Gary Carnall, aviation operations specialist. Stations included opportunities for students to learn about careers in fire ecology, aviation, and wildland and prescribed fire. The hands-on approach allowed the children to learn about the Everglades while talking with the pilot and helicopter staff, viewing the helicopter and aviation support vehicle, and trying out fire tools and equipment. Fred Goodwin, NPS pilot said, “I was glad to be of service to the community. I hope that we inspired some of our next generation to become involved in preserving our national parks.”