Great Smoky Mountains National Park is partnering with the Student Conservation Association to host a National Park Service (NPS) Academy for college students from March 12-16. The program is designed to introduce diverse college students to career opportunities with the federal government through hands-on field activities and in-park internships.
“We recognize the need across the service to diversify our workforce to more closely reflect the growing diversity of America,” said Great Smoky Mountains Superintendent, Dale Ditmanson. “A number of the Park’s professional staff began their careers with the NPS through the SCA volunteer program or other internships. We look upon broadening our pool of interns as a means to raise awareness of NPS career opportunities in minority communities.”
The NPS Academy concept was inspired by a Department of the Interior initiative aimed at engaging America’s youth in the great outdoors and introducing them to careers as natural resource professionals. Great Smoky Mountains is excited to be a part of the initiative of the National Park Service to reach out to a workforce that is representative of the American people.
The March session will begin with a structured course during spring break consisting of seminars, workshops, field trips and recreational activities focusing on the importance of culture, diversity, NPS career options as well as the legacy of conservation within the NPS. Prominent park officials, including Former NPS Director Robert G. Stanton (1997-2001), who currently serves as a Senior Advisor to Secretary of the Interior, as well as NPS Southeast Regional Director, David Vela, are scheduled to address the students about their personal experiences.
After successful completion of the March Academy course, students will be placed in summer internships at a number of NPS sites across the country. At each park, students will work in various career fields including bioscience research, fire effects studies, interpretation and even facilities management. The internship is an opportunity for the students to gain hands-on experience within the National Park System.
The partner of the NPS Academy is the Student Conservation Association (SCA). The SCA is a national organization that develops tomorrow’s conservation leaders by providing high school and college-age students with conservation service opportunities in all 50 states, from urban communities to national parks and national forests. Since 1957, SCA’s hands-on practice of conservation service has helped to develop new generations of conservation leaders inspire lifelong stewardship.
For more information on the SCA or other volunteer internship opportunities, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Dana Soehn, at 865-436-1265.