Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is pleased to celebrate the 10th year of the Youth Ranger Program.
Throughout the past decade, 435 students from 10 island high schools in Puna, Ka‘u and West Hawaii trained in conservation and environmental education disciplines.
Many past participants are now enjoying careers with the National Park Service or in the field of conservation.
Structured as a unique 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.
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 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park youth and volunteer program coordinator Kupono 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 celebration of the youth participants and their mentors, during which the students are acknowledged for all of the important work accomplished throughout the summer season.
Many participants in the Youth Ranger Program transitioned into career positions at national parks throughout the United States or became conservation leaders in their communities.
The Youth Ranger Program would not be possible without the generous support of its partners, especially Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Pacific Parks Association, the National Park Foundation and the Hawaii Community Foundation.