On the Job: Training the Next Generation of Public Land Leaders

Project Need: $100,000

Finding qualified and experienced staff to work in our public lands can be a challenge. The Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative (IIC) program, a collaborative effort spearheaded by Southern Utah University (SUU) in partnership with the Zion Forever Project, is at the forefront of addressing it for our public lands. 

Zion Forever Project has been crucial in facilitating and offering internship opportunities for college-aged individuals and recent graduates wishing to immerse themselves in the stewardship of our shared public lands. These internships provide interns with on-the-job skills and education while ensuring the margin of excellence for national park visitors.

The program’s significance extends beyond individual growth; it is a vital continuum for future employment in public lands. Abi Farish, a Visual Information Specialist in Zion and a graduate of the IIC program, shares: “IIC played a significant role in getting me where I am today. Though I had volunteered with the National Park Service in the past, I feel like my career in public lands truly started with my internships through the IIC.”

The Zion Forever Project’s commitment to these young stewards is evident in its support of these internships across Zion, Cedar Breaks, and Pipe Spring. It fosters collaboration and learning while serving as a force multiplier for Rangers and park scientists. 

The impact of the IIC program is seen across divisions and roles each day, where interns engage in diverse activities, from park science and wildlife management to interpretation, education, and facilities management. With your continued support, we can keep the legacy of the IIC programs alive in our parks and continue to provide opportunities for the next generation.