A Future With The National Park Service
I would not be writing this piece if the National Park Foundation (NPF) had not funded an Active Trails program in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GLCA) in 2013. The Active Trails program allowed me to cross paths with GLCA Natural Resources staff, which sparked an interest in the National Park Service (NPS).
NPF support allowed NPS staff and partners to take local youth and I on a five-day river trip down the San Juan River and a two-day trip down the Colorado River. Many of the participants that experienced these trips were from my community on the Navajo Indian Reservation, called LeChee near Page, Arizona. Some of the students were from local schools such as Page High School and in clubs, such as the Lechee Boys and Girls Club and the United National Indian Tribal Youth club.
Both of these trips expanded my knowledge of park natural resource conservation efforts.
For instance, on the San Juan River trip we participated in mapping invasive non-native plant species, desert bighorn sheep research, learned about health and wellness, and rafted safely through the white and flat waters of the San Juan.
The Colorado River excursion was a great opportunity to learn about this iconic river. On this adventure we learned about aquatic insects, geology, and petroglyphs left behind on steep canyon rock walls. All of the NPS and partner staff on these river trips had a part in educating the participants, keeping us safe, and involving us in memorable activities.
Grand Canyon Youth, a nonprofit that connects youth to rivers, provided rafting guides who were very skilled in teaching us how to safely navigate the river and learn about the river environment.
After these inspiring trips, I wanted to know more about how the NPS protects and preserves these fascinating natural and cultural resources.
In the spring of 2015, I decided to volunteer at GLCA so I could learn more and contribute to the NPS. I am excited to say that I was recently hired on at GLCA as a biological science aid (BSA). As a BSA, I aid in many of the projects the GLCA Natural Resources staff undertakes such as rangeland health monitoring, invasive plant control, native plant propagation, and mist net and acoustic monitoring of bats.
I am thankful for the wealth of training that GLCA provided, such as S212 Wildland Powersaws, Department of Interior Motorboat Operator Certification Course, and monitoring and management of biological soil crusts. I also enjoyed the hands-on training focused on collection of vegetation and wildlife field data and safety. I appreciated meeting and working with staff from the United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and volunteer groups and I am looking forward to keeping in touch with these folks. Working for the NPS has taught me important lessons I can use in my everyday life.
This fall I will be attending Northern Arizona University to continue my bachelor degree in Computer Science. I am grateful for the opportunity the NPF and GLCA provided me, and the time and knowledge that were invested in me so I could make the most of this opportunity.
This great experience has me looking forward to my future with the National Park Service. Best summer job ever!