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NPS Academy Students Report On Summer Experiences

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

National Park News

Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently celebrated ten students within the region who participated in the NPS Academy, a program designed to introduce diverse college students to career opportunities within the NPS. The park served as the Southeast Region’s host park for the program.

During spring break 2012, 30 diverse Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns spent a week in the park participating in seminars, workshops, field trips and recreational activities which focused on the importance of culture, diversity, NPS career options as well as the legacy of conservation within the NPS. These interns were then placed in summer internships at a number of NPS sites across the country.

Great Smoky Mountains received eight student interns who worked in various career fields, including resource management, resource protection, resource education, facilities management and administration. The program was intended to expose diverse students to areas of the NPS that were within their fields of study, but most students were also given opportunities to work outside of their normal scope of work.

“It was a great opportunity to be around people who love their jobs and their careers,” said Ta’Lisa Neloms, who worked with the facilities management division. “This experience made a big difference in how I see work and career opportunities.”

The eight Smoky Mountain students, as well as students from Stones River National Battlefield and Blue Ridge Parkway, presented their summer experience to park staff, supervisors, SCA staff, including Flip Hagood, SCA vice president for strategic initiatives, and Regional Director David Vela on July 27th.  The students reported that they had positive experiences and were exposed to new challenges and ideas outside of their usual environment. Many students stated they will consider the NPS for possible career paths.

While in their internship, students were assigned an NPS mentor who met regularly with them to offer advice regarding their assigned projects, presentations and experiences.

“This has been a wonderful opportunity for Great Smoky Mountains National Park to be actively involved in the development of our next generation of Park Service employees,” said Superintendent, Dale Ditmanson. “The experiences these students have shared are an inspiration for all employees who had an opportunity to interact with the students throughout the summer.”

Each student was given an America the Beautiful annual park pass that will allow them to explore the national parks for one year as well as a 2013 national parks calendar to remind them of their experience.


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