Petrified Forest National Park launched a new program during the month of July. The program, Native Conservation Corps (NCC), provided opportunities for Native American high school seniors to work and live in the park for three weeks.
Through a generous grant from the National Park Foundation’s “Americas Best Idea” program, Native American students explored a variety of career paths, worked alongside NPS staff serving the public and gave presentations to the public about their native heritage.
During their stay at Petrified Forest, the students camped in the park and worked as a team to cook meals, complete park projects, and create lasting friendships.
Serving as bridges between their communities and the national parks, these students will continue the project back in their communities by giving presentations about their experiences and the national parks at schools and other public venues.
“The program exceeded my expectations,” said NCC participant Alonzo Begay.
Thinking they were going to engage in more labor-oriented projects, the participants in NCC were pleasantly surprised by the variety of jobs and experiences available to them at Petrified Forest. Favorites included working with archaeology staff to analyze rock art, venturing into the park at night with the park’s bio-technician, riding in the patrol cars with law enforcement rangers, working in the park’s visitor centers, and meeting with professionals from the Grand Canyon and Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency. As an unexpected addition to the experience, the NCC participants were also called upon to help rescue a visitor suffering from heat stroke in the Painted Desert.
NCC provides Native American youth with an opportunity to learn about and serve the National Park Service mission, part of which is to preserve natural and cultural resources for future generations.
NCC participants will be giving presentations about their experiences at Petrified Forest National Park this fall. Anyone who is interested in hosting or attending a presentation can contact the park.