We often hear about the importance of our national parks and the benefits they provide. Protecting some of our most valued natural and historic areas, these sites have been set aside for the public. However, many of these places are in states of disrepair, having fallen victim to "deferred maintenance."
The Conservation Leaders Program, a partnership between the National Park Conservation Association and participating universities, aims to increase student engagement with national parks and introduce them to a career in the National Park Service.
The program was born out of the need to connect young people with nearby national parks, and encourage them to further engage with public service. I had the privilege of working with fellow students on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic roadway spanning North Carolina and Virginia, where we spent sessions learning about park management, citizen engagement and outreach, and some of the challenges those in the NPS are encountering.