Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012
The park, with funding assistance from the youth partnership program, hired 18 high school students this year from its eight surrounding counties to participate in a summer intern program.
The program allowed participants to learn a great deal about the park through on-site training exercises which enabled them to perform ranger duties. The interns assisted scientists and staff with field research and education programs while exploring possible career opportunities in the park.
The students were exposed to and gained knowledge of a variety of areas – wildlife biology, fisheries science, botany, forest and stream ecology, geology, Cherokee history and culture, and Appalachian history. They also gained an understanding of how the park is managed and what an important role it plays in the protection of this biologically diverse area.
“These programs are mutually beneficial,” said Karen Ballentine, the park’s education specialist. “The students got an in-depth study of resource education techniques, scientific methods, and field research to enhance their skills and talents, and, in turn, the park created advocates through better understanding of and appreciation for the Smokies. The interns also shared their education and experience with family and friends.”
Park staff worked with local teachers and principals to recruit diverse students to apply for this six week paid summer internship.