Young women introduced to careers in the national parks


During Women’s History Month, the local National Park Service just made some more history. On Saturday, March 12, 28 young women ages 15 to 24 spent the day in Three Rivers learning about careers in the National Park Service and at other federal agencies. 

“It is very empowering and inspiring to be in a room full of women and hear them speak about their careers,” said Cynthia. “Some of these girls normally don’t have the opportunities to look up to empowering females.” 

Accompanied by six adults, the group members were some of the female members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Visalia, Tulare, Exeter, and Ivanhoe, as well as the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission Local Conservation Corps. The local Boys and Girls Clubs operates afterschool programs that emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.

The recent day-long program was headquartered at Community Presbyterian Church’s Harrison Hall, the participants learned about the “Women of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.” 

The day-long program included an overview of careers in the National Park Service and presentations by representatives with the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with information about careers in their agencies. Tara Hostnik of Sequoia Parks Conservancy provided a living-history presentation of Alice Eastwood (1859-1953), an adventurous botanist who was one of few females to pursue this career during her era.

“Our goals with this program is to give at-risk youth the opportunity to pursue other routes for careers that they may not have known existed before today,” said  Stella Ryland of Three Rivers, who works in volunteer placement with the Boys and Girls Clubs.

Several Sequoia and Kings Canyon female employees described their careers and the opportunities available to women. The participants then split off into groups depending on what career path interested them.  In addition, Beth Lasswell of Three Rivers provided a demonstration with the park mules and everybody joined in for a hike in the foothills. 

“The program was really interesting!” said Angela Solano of Exeter. “I have been hiking in Sequoia National Park before, but I didn’t realize so many different jobs existed up here. The careers that interested me most were the animal and nature jobs.”

So as the National Park Service enters its second century, watch for some of these women to lead the way through careers that include recreation, conservation, wildlife studies, law enforcement, and historical preservation.

Holly Jackson contributed to this article.

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