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Tomoko Tamagawa, 23, and Kelley Sterle, 22, are spending three months in Yosemite National Park as interns this summer, teaching visitors about the history of transportation in Yosemite and the use of alternative technology in transportation as well as about the natural, cultural, and historical resources in Yosemite National Park. They are participating in the Proud Partner Transportation Interpreter Program, which is made possible through a partnership between the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service, the Student Conservation Association, and the Ford Motor Company.
Tomoko Tamagawa's childhood memories at America's national parks and interest in preserving the integrity of our natural surroundings inspired this Japanese citizen and San Francisco Bay Area resident to apply for the internship position. After graduating from University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Environmental Studies, Tomoko began her national park internship experience at the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, New Jersey. She gained valuable experience during her time at Sandy Hook, guiding visitors through historic landmarks and nature sites. With this experience and fluency in German and Japanese under her belt, Tomoko hopes to communicate with diverse group of visitors.
Kelley Sterle was born and raised in Bay Village, a small suburb just west of Cleveland, Ohio, and she has spent the last four years earning a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science at Loyola University in Chicago. Becoming a part of the Valley Interpretive Staff at Yosemite has taught her not only about the park itself and the wonderful resources that is has to offer, but also helped her inherit a sense of tradition and respect for our national parks. Kelley enjoys encouraging visitors to consider alternative transportation both at home and in the park. This is her first national park experience.
As a Proud Partner of America's national parks, Ford is working closely with the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service to develop innovative transportation and environmental solutions that enable visitors to enjoy the nearly 400 national parks without compromising their beauty. The Proud Partner Transportation Interpreter Program was developed to encourage the use of alternative modes of transportation, such as buses, trains, trams, and/or ferries, with the ultimate goal of reducing vehicle congestion, noise, and air pollution in the parks. About 26 Proud Partner Transportation Interpreters are working in 16 different sites across the country this summer.
"The National Park Foundation is thrilled to have Ford's support as a Proud Partner of America's National Parks," said Vin Cipolla, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "National Parks are protected and cherished today because of the generosity and support of individual Americans who wanted to make a difference - these young Ford Transportation Interpreters are carrying on that fine tradition and, with their support, we will ensure that National Parks will continue to be cherished by future generations."
Each of the interns is a member of the Student Conservation Association, a national nonprofit organization that annually places more than 2,500 high school and college students in conservation service positions. Ford pays for the students' stipends, their transportation to and from the park, and their uniforms. The park provides housing, training, and mentoring. Information about the Student Conservation Association can be found online at www.thesca.org.
The National Park Foundation is the congressionally chartered nonprofit partner of America's national parks. Created by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation strengthens the enduring connection between the American people and their national parks by raising private funds, making strategic grants, creating innovative partnerships, and increasing public awareness. For more information, visit www.nationalparks.org.
Editor's note: For interviews with the individual interns, please contact the Media Relations office at 209/372-0529. Photos are available upon request.