Inspiring the Next Generation of Park Stewards

April 11, 2016Farah AnwarNPF Blog

National parks offer the perfect setting for powerful learning experiences. Through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps,  youth and veterans, including low income and disadvantaged youth, undertake jobs that not only protect, restore, and enhance our national parks, but also offer opportunities to develop technical and leadership skills.

Corps members gain invaluable training and work experience as they participate in important conservation and restoration work on national park lands, waterways, and cultural heritage sites.

Young man with a can of paint holding up a paintbrush ready to paint the log cabin being constructed at Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Dawn Kish

From constructing, maintaining, and designing sustainable and accessible trails, to repairing stone and log retaining walls and bridges, to restoring and painting historic buildings, their efforts establish these young people as stewards of natural and cultural resources, communities, and the nation.

At Rocky Mountain National Park, youth crews restored historic buildings and resurfaced accessible trails around Lily Lake to ensure continued access for all visitors.

Girl raking at the ground to build a trail at Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Dawn Kish

Corps members restored a Civilian Conservation Corps mess hall building which was built in 1929. The restoration work included completely replacing the roof with new cedar shingles and painting the exterior of the whole building. Through their work, they learned how to restore old rafter tails and log ends on the building structure.

Two girls, one holding a power drill and another holding a hammer, working on construction on a building at Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Dawn Kish

These experiences are incredibly rewarding and transformative for corps members as they foster deeper connections with national parks. Their work inspires great pride and corps members often note that they helped protect our national parks, while simultaneously gaining valuable skills and a lifetime passion for the outdoors and our parks.

One crew member shared that, “My future has definitely been impacted from this program, as I definitely feel that I will now follow a path towards promoting sustainability and conservation.”

Laughing youth with sunglasses holding a ladder above his head, working on construction at Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Dawn Kish

The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps program is a crucial and inspiring program that provides young people job opportunities, unique skills, and a sense of stewardship for our national parks. You can help us support programs like these that encourage people to get outdoors and give back in our national parks.

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