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Contact: Jessica Ferracane, 808-345-4216 (cell)
Contact: Kūpono McDaniel, 808-756-0292 (cell)
Hawaii National Park, Hawai'i - Nearly 50 Hawai'i Island high school youth have completed training for eight-week summer internship programs with Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park starting in June.
Graduation ceremonies are slated for Thursday, May 9 at 3:15 p.m., at the Volcano Art Center's Niaulani Campus and again on Friday, May 10 at 4:15 p.m.
The park's non-profit partner, Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, was awarded grants from the Cooke Foundation, Ltd., the Victoria S. and Bradley L. Geist Foundation, Kamehameha Schools 'Āina Education Program, and the Hawai'i Pacific Parks Association to continue the park's Youth Ranger Internship Program (YRIP), now in its fourth successful year.
In addition, generous donations from Volcano Art Center, KTA Superstores, Target, Nui Pohaku, and Safeway will support the graduation ceremony.
"We are so grateful to our community for embracing this life-changing program. Over $90,000 has been donated to give these great kids a chance to make a real contribution to caring for their park," said Park Ranger Kūpono McDaniel, who oversees the program. "I have really enjoyed getting to know these kids from Ka'ū, Pāhoa, and Kea'au high schools and Hawai'i Academy of Arts and Science, and now we will get to see them in action," he said.
The Youth Ranger Internship Program provides education and career preparation to youth in rural East Hawai'i. Youth train with park rangers in six different divisions within the park, including Interpretation, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources, Maintenance, Protection, and Administration. After training, as many as 33 successful candidates will be hired to these divisions.
"The Youth Ranger Internship Program is designed to empower local students to affect change in the world and to expose them to meaningful career options. The skills they learn will make them better candidates for any career they choose to pursue," McDaniel said.