By Cameron Giebink The 2016 National Park Teen Ambassador Program is underway as the first cohort of students completed a five-day learning trip in Voyageurs National Park this past week. In total, 13 students from Twin Cities high schools and two from Northern Minnesota explored the park. See a few photos from their trip here. The program seeks to introduce a younger, more diverse audience to the park and empower the next generation of Voyageurs National Park stewards.
The kids were introduced to camping, fishing, paddling, and hiking in the park over the course of their time in Voyageurs and for many of the kids it was their first time ever holding a paddle or sleeping outdoors.
In addition to camping at Bald Rock on Kabetogama, the kids hiked both the Cruiser Lake and Blind Ash Trails, caught walleyes and smallmouth bass from the campsite, set up wildlife trail cameras, viewed eagles aboard the Borealis tour boat, and explored the Ellsworth Rock Gardens on an interpretive tour. Park Rangers were on hand to facilitate career-themed discussions and Wilderness Inquiry staff oversaw the kids as they took on an increasingly large portion of camp duties over the course of their trip.
After the trip kids were asked to explain what they had learned and how they felt about Voyageurs:
“The hiking was long but it was better than any video game I’ve played.” – Jolon from Harding High School
“I learned that I really do enjoy being outdoors and was surprised at how beautiful the scenery was.” – Griselda from Kennedy High School
“I will come back with my family.” – Martha from Coon Rapids High School
“This helped me experience challenges that I may need to prepare for in college.” – Eh Hser from Humboldt High School
A second group of students will visit the park in July and then both groups will convene on the Mississippi River for a reunion in August during which they will explore the National Park in their own backyard.
We are fortunate to have the resources to experience Voyageurs but many youth do not. The National Park Teen Ambassador program is a free program that introduces a young and diverse audience to national park sites in Minnesota and sparks a love for conservation and the outdoors. By the end of this summer, we will connect our 100th Minnesota high school student to the park through this program.
This program has been made possible through generous support from Wilderness Inquiry, the National Park Service, the Marshall N. Knudson Family Community Fund, Quetico Superior Foundation, TEGNA Foundation, AmieriCorps VISTA, and Voyageurs National Park Association's generous members.