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FRIENDS supports the development of future stewards for the Blue Ridge Parkway through its support of the Student Conservation Association (SCA), the National Park Service Academy and its own Alternate Break Program.

Throughout the years, students from all over the country and abroad are introduced to our parks through partnerships FRIENDS has created with colleges, universities and organizations like the SCA and the NPS Academy.

Student Conservation Association

The SCA is America’s youth conservation corps. Students from the SCA work to protect and restore national parks, cultural landmarks, and community green spaces in all fifty states. The SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of our environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service. Tens of thousands of conservation / environmental leaders, from park superintendents to urban planners, can trace their start to the SCA.

The SCA’s mission falls directly in line with FRIENDS focus on future stewards for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Because of this, FRIENDS supports the SCA annually by funding internship positions with the National Park Service (NPS) on the Blue Ridge Parkway. These positions allow interns to work with the NPS to explore and expand the use of technology for interpretive programs and media. The funds for the internships cover an intern stipend and partial housing for a student intern or NPS Academy intern.

National Park Service Academy

The National Park Service Academy is a program designed to introduce students from under-represented communities with career opportunities in our national parks. Students participate in 12-week summer internships with various national parks in the fields of visitor services, education, resource management, and more.

FRIENDS supports the SCA’s National Park Service Academy annually by funding internship positions from member donations with the National Park Service (NPS) on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Alternative Break Program

The FRIENDS Alternative Break program offers college students (generally groups of 10-12) an opportunity to participate in volunteer service on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a week as a counter to “traditional” spring and fall breaks. Each group of students focuses on a particular Parkway need, such as restoration of a Parkway asset and / or trail construction or maintenance. In addition, students learn about the communities they visit, participate in a community volunteer project (such as volunteering at food banks or studying the local economy / meeting with community leaders) and attend educational activities to learn about the Blue Ridge Parkway regional culture and heritage.

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