Members of De Soto National Memorial’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) took a trip this month to Washington, D.C., for an exclusive tour of the nation’s capital. They saw many of the capital’s memorials, including the newly opened Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Made up of high school students from diverse economic and ethnic backgrounds, the YAC connects young people with our national parks and acts as a consulting partner in De Soto’s daily operations.
During the trip, the YAC met with many of the Park Service’s top leaders, including NPS Director Jon Jarvis. While meeting with the director, the group discussed how to increase youth involvement in the parks.
“It was exciting to see Director Jarvis taking notes as we brainstormed ideas with him,” YAC member Steven Martinez said.
After their exciting and educational trip, YAC members are more fired up than ever about connecting local youths of all backgrounds to their national parks through outreach and social media.
“I think the park leaders were impressed with the council,” said Nicole Acevedo, 16. “They said maybe we could help develop more youth councils across the country.”
Representing the critical roles small parks play in building communities, De Soto’s youth council is passionate about continuing its work in promoting the park and the importance of the NPS. Alongside its advisory role, many YAC members spend their weekends volunteering at De Soto and hope to pursue careers in the park service.
Bethany Stevens, one of the founding members and active YAC Facebook contributor, said of the national parks: “They are so important to America; they protect our heritage and give me hope for our nation’s future.”