NPS Academy Begins Third Year in Fostering Career Track

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Date: February 20, 2013
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393

An innovative program initiated by Grand Teton National Park and developed through key collaborators-The Student Conservation Association (SCA) and Teton Science Schools-will  mark its third year in fostering a career track for college students from diverse backgrounds. Critical funding for the program comes from the Grand Teton National Park Foundation and Grand Teton Association, two dedicated and longstanding park partners. The 2013 NPS Academy will take place from March 4 - 8 at Grand Teton, where participants from universities throughout the U.S. will learn about career opportunities with the National Park Service (NPS) and other federal agencies through seminars, workshops, field trips, and recreational activities. 

After successful completion of the March program, NPS Academy students will be placed into summer internships at a number of parks throughout America: national parks that range from Acadia in Maine to Wrangell-St. Elias in Alaska, from Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton in northwestern Wyoming. 

"We're excited to again sponsor and host this beneficial, outreach program," said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. "Through this and other programs, we're taking important steps to build a more relevant and inclusive federal workforce. In 2011, with support from the NPS Intermountain Region Office, Grand Teton took the lead in launching the first-ever NPS Academy as a pilot program for students from diverse backgrounds across America. This program was generated and designed in cooperation with the Student Conservation Association and Teton Science Schools. With ongoing assistance from SCA, it has since expanded to both the Alaska and Southeast regions, and we're especially proud to be creating a candidate base for potential NPS employees." 

Prominent NPS professionals will address NPS Academy participants, serve as mentors to the students, and help inspire these young adults toward careers with federal service agencies. Key NPS leaders for the 2013 session include John Lujan, former Superintendent of San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, and Rose Fennell, Deputy Superintendent of Boston African American Historical Park; these Park Service managers will serve as the program facilitator and keynote speaker, respectively. Special guests from the Department of the Interior and NPS include David Vela, associate director for Workforce Management, George McDonald, manager of Youth Programs, and Robert (Bob) Stanton, special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior and former NPS Director (1997-2001). 

The NPS Academy was inspired by a Department of the Interior proposal aimed at engaging America's youth in the great outdoors and introducing them to careers as professionals in resource management. The fledgling program began at Grand Teton National Park in 2011 and expanded in 2012 to include sessions at both Grand Teton and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As part of a broader NPS initiative titled, A Call to Action, the program expands again this year to include sessions at Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska. The 'Call to Action' is a plan designed to prepare the Park Service and its employees for a second century of conservation and service. This 21st century initiative creates a vision, charts a path to stewardship and engagement, and asks NPS employees and partner organizations to commit to concrete actions that advance the historic Park Service mission. The heart of the plan includes four themes: Connecting People to Parks; Advancing the Education Mission; Preserving America's Special Places; and Enhancing Professional and Organizational Excellence. These themes are supported by specific goals and measurable actions.

To get a sneak peek into what happens during the NPS Academy, link to the following video on YouTube at and/or a video developed by the Grand Teton National Park Foundation at

For further information about the NPS Academy, contact Vanessa Torres at 307.739.3657 or email her at e-mail us.

The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is the only national organization that develops tomorrow's conservation leaders by providing high school and college-age students with conservation service opportunities in all 50 states, from urban communities to national parks and national forests. Since 1957, SCA's hands-on practice of conservation service has helped to develop new generations of conservation leaders, inspire lifelong stewardship, and help to save the planet. For more information, visit

Teton Science Schools (TSS) is a private, non-profit educational organization, operating year-round in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in partnership with Grand Teton National Park. Since 1967, TSS has provided education about the natural world and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The organization educates and inspires hundreds of youth and adults each year through the study of nature and place-based experiences. TSS' innovative programs serve students from across Wyoming, the Intermountain West, the nation and the world. For more information, visit

Grand Teton National Park Foundation (GTNPF) provides financial support to programs and projects that help preserve and protect Grand Teton National Park and its resources. Established in 1997, the GTNPF was created in the spirit of philanthropy exemplified by the generosity, stewardship and dedication of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and others. The Foundation raised private funds for construction of the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center and fully funded an auditorium wing on the Discovery Center that opened in 2011. GTNPF also supports a variety of other important projects that contribute to protection of park resources, support scientific studies, promote stewardship, and fund youth-based initiatives such as the NPS Academy. For information, visit

Grand Teton Association (GTA) is a nonprofit corporation established in 1937 to support Grand Teton National Park. The Association fosters understanding of the park's mission and increases visitor appreciation and enjoyment by publishing and distributing informational and historical reference materials, guidebooks, and a variety of other educational publications. GTA operates interpretive sales areas in all park visitor centers, the Menor's Ferry historic district, Jackson Hole Airport, Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, National Elk Refuge and nineteen district ranger stations on two national forests. All profits earned support educational, interpretive, and scientific programs in Grand Teton and across the Greater Yellowstone Area. For more information, visit


NPS Academy (27)
Ranger Mike Nicklas describes mountaineering and search & rescue missions to 2012 NPS Academy students.

Photo: Grand Teton National Park

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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