The Incredible Work of HBCUI Interns in Parks

Meet the 2021 HBCUI and GYF Interns
Rebecca WatsonNPF Blog
A wooden bridge sits among very green ferns and trees
Mount Rainier National Park - NPS Photo

From providing fresh research to expanding storytelling efforts and capturing oral histories to helping us learn more about our past from those who lived it to protecting our treasured landscapes and ensuring the safety of our wildlife, National Park Service (NPS) interns have the unique opportunity to give back to our national parks while picking up new skills and professional development experiences. The National Park Foundation (NPF) is proud to support internships in parks through our work in Communities & Workforce, which highlights the power of teamwork and collective dedication to preserving our nation's most treasured places.

In 2021, NPF and our partner Apple supported a group of interns from the Greening Youth Foundation (GYF), which is celebrating a decade-long partnership with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Internship (HBCUI) program. Meet the incredible interns who are giving back to national parks across the country through their internships.

Khalil Baker

(He/Him/His)

Khalil Baker

Khalil Baker

I am a MBA student at Hampton University and my 2021 internship with Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is putting my research skills to the test. Appomattox Court House preserves the meeting place of Robert E. Lee upon his surrender to Ulysses Grant in April 1865. Delving deep into the stories of African Americans during the Civil War, my work will help provide the park valuable research to expand their storytelling in the park while contributing to my capstone project.  

Trinity Battle

(She/Her/Hers)

Trinity Battle

Trinity Battle

I am a student at Central State University, and I worked with the interpretation division of Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, where I was immersed in researching Young’s life and his work with the Buffalo Soldiers, who’ve had a lasting impact in our nation’s history. From drafting press releases to creating meaningful social media content for the park, this internship has offered me the opportunity to learn new skills. In 2021, I will be conducting youth activities for the park’s community, helping educate youth on the significance of Young's life and legacy.

Talitha Brant

(She/Her/Hers)

Talitha Brant

Talitha Brant

I am a student at Huston-Tillotson University and my 2021 internship at Mount Rainier National Park is focused on park wildlife. I help create park signage to alert the public about turtles they may encounter, as well as disseminate a factsheet for park staff to help keep them informed about turtle species in the U.S. and their conservation status. I am also taking a herpetology course – a type of zoology related to reptiles and amphibians – throughout the internship. Several animals in the park are either federally or state protected or are sensitive species, and my work will contribute to the park’s efforts to protect their habitats.

David Johnson

(He/Him/His)

David Johnson

David Johnson

I am a student at Alcorn State University and my internship has me working with the Tree Hazard program at Grand Canyon National Park to identify and analyze trees so the park can proactively mitigate hazard trees before they cause harm to people or property. I am also developing a GIS database to help in determining the number of trees the program has removed in a specific region and working with the park’s vegetation biologist to determine where replacement trees may be needed. My work is helping preserve the Grand Canyon’s natural habitat while keeping visitors and staff safe.

Jacobi Pennymon

(She/Her/Hers)

Jacobi Pennymon

Jacobi Pennymon

I am working at one of the newest national parks – Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument – for my 2021 internship. The park preserves and shares the story of Medgar and Myrlie Evers, two civil rights activists, who, from their small, three-bedroom home, devoted their lives to ending racial injustice. Working closely alongside the park management team, interpretive staff, and partners as part of park operations, I am learning valuable skills in planning and coordination between multiple stakeholders in this new park.

Ariel Roy

(She/Her/Hers)

Ariel Roy

Ariel Roy

My 2021 internship with NPS’ National Center for Preservation and Technology is contributing to my capstone project at Xavier University of Louisiana. Working in a three-person team to document slave cabins and interview those familiar with tenant farmers on former plantations, I traveled to Baton Rouge to interview Mr. Bibbins, a childhood friend of the late author Ernest Gaines. Gaining first-hand insight into the economy of sharecropping, tenant farming, and agriculture after the Civil War, this internship is honing my interviewing skills and providing valuable oral histories to the center. 

Shawn Smith

(He/Him/His)

Shawn Smith

Shawn Smith

I am a recent graduate of Wilberforce University where I studied business marketing. I am interning at Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument. The park tells the story of Colonel Charles Young, the third African American to graduate from West Point and the first to achieve the rank of colonel, as well as the first African American to serve as a superintendent of a national park. My internship is helping me develop a greater appreciation for the park’s research as I share Young's story with park visitors.

Imani Tyson

(She/Her/Hers)

Imani Tyson

Imani Tyson

I am a student at Fisk University, and my 2021 internship with Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site is applying my computer science skills and graphic design passion to our national parks. Using my expertise, the park can tell the story of the 18th president’s efforts to protect African Americans during the Reconstruction Era. Elected as president in 1868 with a campaign slogan of “Let Us Have Peace,” Grant tried his best to promote sectional and racial harmony across the country, including championing the 15th Amendment.


These dedicated students are providing parks with their unique skills and talents, giving back to the places that give so much to us. Through their internships, these students have also developed a life-long connection to our national parks, helping us protect these places for generations to come. Want to learn more about other interns supported by NPF in 2021? Check out our blog here to meet the interns in NPS’ Mosaics in Science Diversity Internships program! 


Start a Conversation


CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Stay Inspired
Connect with the parks you love. Sign up to receive the latest NPF news, information on how you can support our national treasures, and travel ideas for your next trip to the parks. Join our community.