The George Melendez Wright Young Leaders in Climate Change (YLCC) program manages paid internships in which undergraduate or beginning graduate students work for approximately 12 weeks on projects in research, interpretation, park operations, policy development, or other fields. This program provides opportunities for young people to work on diverse issues related to climate change and its effects in national parks. Parks across the country define the internship projects and compete for funds to support those projects.
The YLCC results in a broad range of activities and products that are valuable to the NPS and to the education and professional growth of interns. The work done by interns is defined by the parks and therefore specifically meets their needs. In many cases, intern work products like school lesson plans, resource assessments, and recommendations for reducing energy use are valuable to other parks as well.
In addition to supporting the NPS’s national climate change strategy, the YLCC helps bring young people into the NPS to pursue their own educational and professional interests in science, education, communication, and management. The YLCC helps make parks personally relevant to students. By funding undergraduates as interns the YLCC helps create experiences through which young people can connect with the parks and may ultimately enter employment and careers in the NPS. The program actively recruits minority and underserved students and thus provides a practical channel through which these communities can better connect personally to national parks and develop professionally with the NPS.