Creating Careers in Public Lands
Despite explosions in visitation, many parks, including Zion, Cedar Breaks, and Pipe Spring, continue to work with the same, or lower staffing and funding levels as they did a decade ago. As parks grapple with the need for expanded programming and to keep current programs accessible, paid internships programs have become vital to park operations.
Internships and Youth programs are key recruitment tools for parks. One program is the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative (IIC), administered by Southern Utah University (SUU). The IIC recruits students from SUU, Utah Tech, and other Utah colleges and high schools for a career-driven pipeline that arranges paid internships at public land agencies. These interns work side-by-side with permanent park staff to assist in park management, operations, and research.
The relationship between the parks and the interns is not a one way street — parks are helping interns by providing important work experience and networking opportunities, and interns are helping the parks towards a better future by increasing capacity and offering a fresh perspective.
The IIC program supports interns as they navigate the job-search process by proactively putting them in a position to seek and find jobs working in public lands. Students benefit from a mentorship program that offers professional development opportunities, goal setting, and feedback on their resume and interviewing skills. The IIC program boasts higher rates of placement into public lands jobs than most other programs in the country. Numerous former IIC interns now work for Zion, Cedar Breaks Pipe Spring, and the Zion Forever Project.
“In an IIC internship, we create pathways to National Park careers by turning bosses into mentors and asking students to tie their academic careers to their internships. It‘s an honor to work with Zion Forever to create these amazing learning opportunities for youth in our region.” Briget Eastep, Executive Director of Pathways & IIC, Southern Utah University
Parks are also working to increase the participation of tribal youth in the internship program through the newly-established Indian Youth Service Corps (IYSC), which offers tribes and partner organizations the opportunity to formalize service agreements with the Department of the Interior. The program hires tribal members to serve as recruitment coordinators to reach out to tribal youth, ages 16-30, who are interested in the program. The IIC remains actively engaged in conversations to ensure that the IYSC will be a part of its program.
The Zion Forever Project has been a vital source of support in building and sustaining the youth and internship programs including the IIC program, Indian Youth Services Corps (IYSC), and others. In fact, SUU inducted Zion Forever into its Hall of Fame in 2022 for its contributions to the program. Your donations provide much-needed support to enhance park programs, build future careers, and recruit the next generation of staff.