Youth on Youth on Youth

Monday, August 22 2016 Written by
Outreach is one of my favorite parts of any job --not just here at the National Park Service. This past week I had the great opportunities to help organize the events of two youth groups: Latinos Outdoors Youth Camp and ELK’s Urban Ranger visit to our office. IMG_5112b IMG_5122bI’ve mentioned the Urban Ranger program before. This incredible group of students finished off their summer employment with a visit to our regional office. All summer, they have been working with younger kids in the community teaching them how to fish, running school programs, and networking with professionals at parks. With their visit at the Intermountain Regional Office, Julia and I coordinated presentations and a welcoming folder for them. They were able to take a tour of the many offices in our building, talk to our Chief of Interpretation & Education, Susanne McDonald, and give a brief presentation about their program to us. I was able to present on federal resumes and Julia gave another on potential careers in the National Park Service. One of the cool things about our agency is that you don’t have to work in a park to work for the park service. You can work in IT, accounting, policy or communications. But the system is a little difficult to navigate and the application process for many of these jobs requires a federal resume which is quite different from a business resume.   IMG_5099b On Thursday, I was able to organize an outreach event with  a local community, Westwood. With Vanessa, Public Affairs Specialist, we were able to join in on the finale of the their summer youth camp aimed for kids under the age of twelve. We gave a quick presentation about National Park Service and some goodie bags filled with activity books, stickers, Junior Ranger hats, and more. Not to my surprise, none of these kids had been to a national park. When asked about their “favorite part of the outdoors,” many of them said to “play sports” or “trees.” One of the younger boys saw the Junior Ranger hats and asked if they were sombreros! Vanessa and I thought it was super cute, but it clearly showed the disconnect between this community and our outreach initiatives as the National Park Service. I began to question our programming and strategy: who are we actually reaching out to? Are the programs we design available to this community? Are the materials provided offered bilingually, for the parents that will be reading brochures sent home or attempting to help their children through activity books? So many questions came up that really sparked a fire within me. I love my community and I think of these kids like my family because of the many values and cultural practice we share. To influence them  in even the smallest way, fills my heart with joy. IMG_5107b I really enjoy working with Latino youth. It reminds me of when I was younger the individuals I had there to look up to, or even in most cases, the individuals I didn’t have there to look up to whom I could really relate to and be influenced by. I didn’t have a direct mentor or adult to look up to who understood the “American” system or taught me how to apply to college. In many cases, it was my sister or a counselor but it was a lot of figuring-it-out along the way. I feel that it is my personal duty to guide the younger Latino generation into the direction of success and provide them with the resources or, at the very least, with the exposure what with this world has to offer. The reward from this and priceless, and even if it’s not a part of my job, I’ll continue to do Latino and youth outreach through other outlets and involvements. It’s my passion and my duty. From Colorado, Isabel
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