What Have I Done?

June 13, 2014 Posted by: Julie Johndreau

From my office I hear Trevor practicing the Junior Ranger pledge. Soon, he will head out to the front desk and swear in real life junior rangers. He will meet families from across the country and across the world. He wants to be prepared. He takes this job opportunity seriously, that much is clear.

It is Week One of the 2014 Badlands Tribal Youth Intern Program. We have accomplished much in the program’s two year history. We now have four experienced interns (Dwan, Nathan, Earl Henry, and Joseph) who will serve as leaders and peer mentors to five brand new recruits (Jayden, Trevor, Emerald, Jenica, and Santana).  And I must be crazy for inviting nine teenagers to work for me this summer, right? Wrong– I also have two exceptional local teachers working with me to coordinate program activities this summer and into the school year.

The long term goal of the program is to inspire young people to pursue careers in park management, science, or related fields. Ten years from now, I want these kids to be working in professional jobs for the National Park Service. The interns come from small, rural towns in South Dakota. Some live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, others near it.

Week One has been about setting goals, training, and becoming familiar with the park.

The interns’ goals include:

·       Helping the new interns

·       Teaching visitors about Lakota culture

·       Spending more time outside

·       Putting up tipis as a team

Supervisors’ and mentors’ goals include:

·       Contributing to personal growth of the interns

·       Learning from the interns

·       Helping interns and community see viable careerpaths

·       Facilitate learning

·       Spending more time outside

·       Making the park accessible and welcoming forlocal youth

Well, since we all agree we should spend more time outside,we are heading to Notch Trail. Along the way, we will learn park geology. Experienced interns will talk to visitors and answer questions so new recruitscan learn the ropes.

Next week we have many programs and activities planned. Soon, we will host the Ellsworth Airforce Base Boys & Girls Club on anovernight camp out. Let’s get to work. More to come from the rest of the team soon---Julie Johndreau, BadlandsNational Park, Education Specialist

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