Great Smoky Mountains National Park is looking for mentors and sponsors for an exciting new program beginning this summer at its Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.
Ten (10) special students who will graduate from high school in 2016 will be chosen to be a part of the Youth Leadership Class of 2016. Beginning this summer, these students will participate in a series of educational expeditions and opportunities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that will culminate with the National Park Service centennial in 2016. Tremont is working with schools and youth organizations to publicize the program and identify the students.
“The program was inspired by National Park Service Director, Jonathan Jarvis, in his recent Call to Action identifying ways to recognize and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016,” says Ken Voorhis, Tremont’s executive director.
“The goal is to recruit a diverse group of students who are willing to commit to involvement with the program over the next four years, and who have a particular interest in and potential for becoming tomorrow’s conservation leaders.”
The students selected will commit to one week each summer for an active outdoor learning expedition within the national park, and also be willing to attend additional outings and education opportunities at other times throughout the four-year timeframe.
“By participating year after year, the students will be constantly building on the previous summer’s growth. By the end of the program in 2016, these students will graduate with a strong environmental knowledge base, an understanding of the inner workings of a national park, and a close connection to Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” explains education director, John DiDiego.
“The National Park Service is very concerned about the decline in the interest of young people in the outdoors. We are actively pursuing whatever channels we can to get Americas future leaders engaged in enjoying the outdoors in the stewardship of National Parks and nature.” says Karen Ballentine, the park’s Education Branch Chief.
After they graduate, the students will be exposed to conservation careers and be encouraged to apply for internships with Tremont and/or the National Park Service.
Tremont is looking for program sponsors to cover the annual costs of approximately $6,000 per year for the 10 students. In addition, each student will be expected to help identify a community sponsor that would fund them for $100 each year.
Tremont is partnering with Experience Your Smokies to identify mentors who will help guide and counsel the students throughout the 4-year process, as well as help them identify their yearly financial sponsor.
If you are interested in being a mentor, nominating a student, helping to sponsor the program, or need more information visit www.gsmit.org/2016.html or call (865) 448-6709.