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Prince William Sound College partners with Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve for student intern program

by Victoria Heisser, Prince William Sound College  |   

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The Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark is in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. For many years, Prince William Sound College and the park have been working together through an internship program benefiting both students and the community. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

For years, Prince William Sound College (PWSC) and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve have been working together through an internship program that helps students and the community. We had a chance to talk with Carrie Wittmer, the team lead for the Division of Interpretation & Education at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, to learn more about PWSC and the National Park Service’s (NPS) collaborative efforts.

PWSC: What do PWSC and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, NPS do together? 

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Morgan Sobek, National Park Service park planner and intern supervisor, stands in front of the Visitor Center sign welcoming travelers to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park at the end of the season. (Photo courtesy, Prince William Sound College)

Carrie: We have a Prince William Sound College/Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve Outdoor Recreation Planner internship program. Every summer, a PWSC Outdoor Leadership program student works closely with park staff to learn park planning, interpretation of law and policy, and basic land management principles. PWSC and NPS also work together throughout the year on local community initiatives with the PWSC Copper Basin Extension Center. The Copper Basin Extension Center convened the Copper Basin Youth Partnership Forum to assist the NPS and other community organizations with youth programming collaboration. The NPS and PWSC collaborate with the Wrangell Institute for Science and the Environment (WISE), a local environmental education organization, to host professional storytellers, scientists, cultural experts and historians for a lecture series about the Copper River Basin. Additionally, both NPS and PWSC participate in various other efforts to build community, provide services and resources to community members, and participate in shared stewardship of public lands.

PWSC: Why is collaboration important? 

Carrie: We all care about this amazing place we call home. I'm constantly inspired by the beauty, wildness, wildlife and community-oriented people who live here. And it takes work to keep this place beautiful, wild and thriving. No one organization has the staff, money or time to do everything that needs to be done. The way we get things done is by sharing ideas, working together and leveraging the resources we can contribute.   

PWSC: How is this collaboration beneficial to our community?

Carrie: The end result of this collaboration, not just between PWSC and the NPS but with local area governmental organizations, nonprofits and tribal organizations, is a series of opportunities for youth and community members. Opportunities to learn about this place; practice customary and traditional land uses, hear stories from experts and elders; and grow into jobs and activities that contribute to sustainable stewardship of this amazing place we call home.

Creative Commons License "Prince William Sound College partners with Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve for student intern program" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.