National Park Foundation Invests $5 Million in Service Corps Programs
The National Park Foundation is excited to announce a more than $5 million investment to expand service corps crews to support a greater diversity of young leaders to connect with and help protect national parks and receive in-demand job skills training.
Service corps are locally based organizations that engage young adults and veterans in projects that address recreation, conservation, disaster response, and community needs.
Projects funded through this program will include invasive species removal, field data collection, historical preservation, facilities maintenance, and more. Service corps will also provide crew members with practical field training, enable them to build connections with peers and local communities, build confidence as emerging leaders, and learn about public lands career paths.
“The National Park Foundation is thrilled to work with so many park partners to grow the community of young, diverse leaders who will protect the magnificent places we share,” said Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “Expanding service corps across America’s national parks is one of the greatest investments we can make to cultivate the next generation of park stewards."
This year, the National Park Foundation is partnering with the National Park Service and more than 30 partner organizations* to support a diverse network of service corps crews. This will include sending crews into parks beyond the popular landscape parks like Yellowstone or Glacier, including remote parks like Isle Royale National Park and historically significant parks like Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park; expanding the types of projects crew members can undertake to increase knowledge and generate exposure to new trades and roles; and hiring more diverse crew members to better reflect the local communities and people who visit national parks.
In addition, the National Park Foundation is allocating $1 million of this investment to fund the Indian Youth Service Corps (IYSC), a new tribal youth program announced in 2022 by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. The IYSC will provide opportunities for Native Americans and Alaska Natives to support the conservation and protection of natural and cultural resources through construction, restoration or rehabilitation of natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational or scenic resources.
“As a former Service Corps member, I deeply understand that this program offers direct experience and skills training for the next generation of park stewards while addressing important projects in parks across the country,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams.
The National Park Foundation will support 31 service corps crews and individual placements, including:
Creating employment opportunities at Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park
The Greening Youth Foundation will support five young adults of color in a summer work crew at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park that will further their knowledge of historic preservation, engage them in skill-building activities, and match them with potential federal government and conservation employers. The program is designed to support the park as well as diversify the pipeline to employment at the National Park Service and other federal agencies.
Protecting and restoring the threatened Joshua trees
At Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve, the Student Conservation Association will continue a multi-year project to field crews in the restoration of the Joshua tree population through planting, reducing the threat of future wildfires, and increasing the long-term viability of this unique, scarce, and critical resource. The crew will tackle several climate change-related issues, including habitat improvement, invasive species, fire mitigation, and fuel management.
Training Tribal citizens in archaeological site monitoring
Six tribal citizens will undergo training in archaeological site monitoring for construction projects at cultural sites under the stewardship of participating Nations. Once complete, several of the crew members will implement their learnings during placements in monitoring projects at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Valley Forge National Historical Park, or Independence National Historical Park in the Fall/Winter of 2024.
Enhancing workforce development opportunities for adults with differing abilities
The Stewards Individual Placement’s Youth Empowerment Stewards Internship program will provide workforce development opportunities for young adults with differing abilities. Members will serve at National Park Service sites across the country — Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Redwood National and State Parks, Olympic National Park, National Park Service's Southeast Region — providing capacity to make public lands, interpretation, facilities, and visitor services more accessible and inclusive while gaining skills that position them for career opportunities with the federal government and conservation organizations.
This work would not be possible without the support from Carhartt, Inc., American Express Foundation, GRoW @ Annenberg, Karen Sweet Conway and Brian J., Conway, James DuBose, Free People, William and Jane Mosakowski, Nature Valley, Kevin and Annie Parker, Publix Super Markets, Recreational Equipment, Inc., and many other donors.
Since 2018, including fiscal year 2023, the National Park Foundation has granted more than $20 million to field over 220 service corps crews and individual placements.