HVNP Youth Ranger Program Hits 10 Years
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Youth Ranger Program is now 10 years old.
Over the last decade, 435 students from 10 island high schools in Puna, Ka’u, and West Hawaiʻi have trained in conservation and environmental education disciplines through the program, a park press release said. Many past participants are now working careers with the National Park Service or in the field of conservation.
Structured as a work-learn-earn internship program, youth rangers are selected following training and development at the participating schools during the spring semester. In the summer, these students start entry-level jobs in the park, where they work and learn beside dedicated park professionals in a wide variety of career fields, the release continued.
Youth rangers work to clear invasive species from thousands of acres within the park, serve tens of thousands of visitors in park visitor centers, repair popular trails, restore historic buildings, help with scientific studies and assist with the curation of artifacts.
“These youth create a bridge between the park, our local communities and the next generation of park stewards,” said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Youth and Volunteer Program Coordinator Kūpono McDaniel. “The students learn valuable career skills and gain a better understanding and appreciation for national parks and their place in the surrounding community. The students learn that they can have a powerful influence on the future of our planet while creating positive outcomes in their own lives and careers.”
The capstone of the program each year is a year-end celebration of the youth participants and their mentors, where the students are acknowledged for all of the important work that has been accomplished over the summer season.
The Youth Ranger Program would not be possible without the support of partners, namely Friends of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Hawaiʻi Pacific Parks Association, the National Park Foundation and the Hawai‘i Community Foundation.