Additional information about this event is available throughout this webpage.
During National Park Week, join the National Park Service Youth Programs Division, The Corps Network, and the National Park Foundation for the virtual event, "Celebrating Stories of Young Conservation Leaders: Advancing Sustainability and Environmental Justice in Parks and Communities," on April 25, 2023, from 1:00pm-2:30pm ET. In celebration of our national parks and Earth Month, speakers and panelists will share their park stories related to the service and conservation corps movement. Youth and young adults can help address the challenges of climate change as well as advance environmental justice and sustainability in our communities and on our public lands. Participating in corps programs is a great way to get involved. Attendees will learn what it's like to serve in a corps and how corps programs offer diverse young people opportunities to explore their identities while making our parks more resilient, beautiful, safe, and inclusive. Join us to discover how you can make a lasting impact when your park story begins in a corps.
Watch the event recording on our YouTube channel, or follow the NPS Youth and Young Adult Programs Facebook page to watch it there.
- Julie Gonzalez, Community Engagement Coordinator, Grand Teton National Park, National Park Service
- Marie Walker, Chief Operating Officer, The Corps Network
- Lise Aangeenbrug, Chief Program Officer, National Park Foundation
- Rita Moss, Associate Director for the Workforce and Inclusion Directorate, National Park Service
- Michael Smith, Chief Executive Officer, AmeriCorps
- Daniel Agudelo, Park Ranger, Everglades National Park, National Park Service
- Thunder Bushur, Former Youth Empowerment Steward, Conservation Legacy
- CJ Franco, Stewards Individual Placement, Haleakala National Park and The Corps Network 2023 Corpsmember of the Year, National Park Service
- Precious Vicente, Conservation Legacy and The Corps Network 2023 Corpsmember of the Year (for her service with American Conservation Experience)
- Tai Vugia, Grand Teton National Park, National Park Service
- Jared Whakinney, Park Guide, Oklahoma City National Memorial, National Park Service
Q&A Session (all speakers + speakers below)
- George McDonald, Chief, Youth Programs and Experienced Services Program Division, National Park Service
- Tracey Ritchie, Vice President of Education and Engagement, National Park Foundation
Watch the Event Recording
Have any questions? Please email us!
- Learn about the The Corps Network's Jobs at Corps
- Find Corps located in your state
- Get answers to frequently asked questions about joining a Corps
- Read about service corps in the news
- View a list of the 21st Century Conservation and Service Corps partners
Learn More About Our Participating Partners
National Park Service Youth and Young Adult Programs: nps.gov/subjects/youthprograms
The Corps Network: corpsnetwork.org
National Park Foundation: nationalparks.org
Conservation Legacy: conservationlegacy.org
Student Conservation Association: https://www.thesca.org/
American Conservation Experience: https://www.usaconservation.org/
Meet the Speakers and Panelists
Ten years later, he is now a Park Ranger and Nike Missile Site Coordinator at Everglades National Park. He helps connect visitors to the wonders of the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. To Daniel, Everglades National Park is vastly different than the parks out west. There is beauty all around, and the park engages all five of your senses.
In her current role, Julie works to connect youth, families, and underrepresented communities to the outdoors through environmental education and youth workforce development programs. She works in partnership with organizations like the American Conservation Experience and Groundworks USA to make this happen. As a Mexican-American first generation woman, she knows the power representation can have in helping others feel welcomed in outdoor spaces. She strives to create an environment where people feel a sense of belonging and can show up in the outdoors and feel comfortable. In her free time, she is on a raft floating the Snake River, skiing down the mountain, biking on dirt roads, or hanging out on the couch with her husband and goldendoodle.
Born in Maui, Hawaii his family relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada when he was 11 years old. He attended his primary schooling there and afterwards began working at national parks as a concessions worker under Food & Beverage with multiple concession corporations. He worked at Mount Rainier National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Denali National Park and Preserve as a cook before realizing he wanted to do more conservation work. He drew this inspiration from his great grandmother and motivation from his nephews. He hopes to provide future generations with well preserved wilderness and available resources to explore their interest in conservation. Hoping to influence youth development towards joining the fight towards conservation.
Precious Vicente currently works for Conservation Legacy as a Program Coordinator. She recently served as a National Park Service Park Ranger at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, where she was a cultural resource to guests as well as to staff. She previously served with the National Park Service through the Historic Preservation Training Center's Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program (TTAP) through American Conservation Experience (ACE) in search of new opportunities and with a passion for learning about her Hopi and Akimel O’odham heritage. Her Corps experience allowed her to explore her culture and to create connections within the National Park Service (NPS).
During her time with TTAP, Precious helped to preserve 4,200 feet of prehistoric earthen walls and 25 feet of 1930’s historic adobe walls. She continued to a second internship with Conservation Legacy as a cultural education intern. While there, she worked alongside NPS staff giving educational programs to the public and building tribal connections. She received an AmeriCorps Education Award for her efforts.
Aligned with the program’s mission of outdoor equity and bringing historically underrepresented identities into the National Park Service, they’ll be supporting the 2023 NPS Academy cohort in the role of peer mentor while returning to the Tetons this year as an NPS interpretive ranger. Tai believes that the outdoors should be a welcoming place for everyone, and that the successful management of these spaces needs people of diverse backgrounds, identities, and skill sets.
Since becoming a permanent employee in 2021, Jared has dedicated his time to engaging with other Indigenous employees within the NPS and finding ways to increase programs and outreach with indigenous communities. He has helped create new partnerships with groups like the First Americans Museum to create youth education programs and camps. When not at work, Jared enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, Lottie and Lander, and passing on the Comanche traditions to the next generation. He is also a photographer, film director, and researcher who uses his Comanche lens and knowledge of Indigenous Research Methodologies and Methods to tell cultural stories
The experience impacted her passion to lead. She did not previously believe in her leadership skills and now realizes how each experience becomes part of that person's story story. She challenges you to think about what drew you here? Maybe the parks are calling to you. Maybe you have never heard of some of these job positions before. Maybe you are in the parks already but want to know more. She hopes you keep chasing your passions and adventure as it calls to you.
Prior to joining The Corps Network in 2014, Marie spent 15 years as the Director of Programs and Development for the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia (CCCWV). Marie was involved in the development and implementation of several innovative programs, including the first Brownfields Job Training Program in West Virginia. Marie is a 2023 recipient of the Corps community's prestigious Legacy Achievement Award for her contributions to the Service and Conservation Corps movement. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Sociology, as well as a MPA in Public Administration. She studied at Concord University, Old Dominion University, and West Virginia University.
McDonald has partnered with numerous 21CSC organizations, helping develop such programs as Historically Black Colleges and Universities Internship in collaboration with the Greening Youth Foundation, the Latino Heritage Internship Program, and the Mosaics in Science Intern Program with Environment for the Americas. McDonald has not only championed the 21CSC within NPS, but has taken time to write congressional responses and inform leaders across the Department of the Interior about the value of this initiative.
Last updated: May 8, 2023