SF State solidifies relationship with national parks internship

Since 2012, SF State students have been part of an exclusive parks conservation internship available only to students on a few San Francisco campuses. The internship gives students firsthand knowledge and work experience, and has reconstructed the way students feel about conservation and national parks services.

Wednesday, March 9, a memorandum was signed to solidify the internship and the relationship between SF State and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Its significance marks the first public commitment between these institutions to uphold and maintain the integrity of the blossoming program.

In honor of the memorandum being signed, SF State, the National Parks Service and all of the organizations behind the implementation of the program held a ceremony to commemorate the milestone. Students who have successfully gone through the internship spoke highly of the experience at the event, and reiterated the importance of having the internship available to students on campus, now and for semesters to come.

“For people like me, who practically grew up in the Presidio with its programs, it’s really an important program,” said Dennis Chang, an SF state student who spoke alongside other signees and students who have been through the internship. “There’s not really that bridge between high school and college (for parks conservatory studies), so it’s a great way to continue developing, continue being involved, and hopefully become future park leaders. This internship is more than a graduation requirement; it’s more than making a lot of money – I am learning whole new skill sets.”

The memorandum signifies the commitment that both SF State and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are making to the program. It will also ensure financing for the internship in the National Parks Conservancy that is available to students who are interested in parks services. This memorandum is the collective first step to try to structure a program that will attempt to maximize student growth in the national parks realm. It will be set up for the students who go through the internship to gain knowledge and excel in public lands education, volunteer and internship opportunities.

“We are trying to provide a way to create a more solid relationship that actually offers an exchange of specific resources that will be provided by each (of the organizations involved) and a different level of commitment for the future,” said Nina Roberts, a recreation, parks and tourism professor.

The projected goal for students once they have finished the program is to obtain work experience relative to public land management, network and establish connections with future employers and mentors, and get actively involved with a career post-graduation.

“Today, this is the most important memorandum of understanding that I have been a part of in the eight years that I have been here,” said Keith Bowman, dean of the College of Science and Engineering.

The first students went through the program in 2012, and over the last four years more than 100 students have completed internships with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, according to a campus-wide release about the memorandum. The memorandum confirms that many more students will have the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge that the program contains.

“We are appreciative of the amazing opportunities provided by this partnership of the National Parks Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy,” Roberts said. “This opportunity today brings people together in perpetuity, for the long term, to provide these experiences for students across campus, and I am thrilled!”