During the last week of July, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument witnessed the excitement, fun, and power of mentoring. However, it wasn’t adults mentoring youth, it was youth mentoring youth. Nine members of the Mile High Youth Corps (a Colorado based youth corps) lead seventeen youths from Fort Carson on a four day adventure in the park.
The Fort Carson teens began their week by participating in interpretive programs, fossil labs, and hikes. Only a few of the teens had ever set foot in the Monument. The Mile High Youth Corps also instructed the teens in Leave No Trace and other outdoor skills. Every day, they joined the trail crew in maintaining trails. Throughout the week the teens were able to interact with rangers and staff members in all divisions of the park to learn about careers in the National Park Service. One of the park volunteers, an active duty Army mechanic, assisted and proved to be an important role model.
The teens and trail crew were treated to free meals and a stipend provided by the Friends of the Florissant Fossil Beds.
“It’s been a great experience to come out here and look at the beauty, work on the trails, and gain a new life experience,” said one of the youth.
The program was funded by two different grants from the National Park Foundation.
The youth mentoring week is part of a program developed by Florissant Fossil Beds called “Post to Parks,” which is an initiative to connect military families and youth with our national parks.