Members of the inaugural class of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority's Bridge to Park Careers program graduated on April 18, 2015. The ceremony was held at the Vista Hermosa Natural Park in downtown Los Angeles. The young adults were recognized by elected officials, such as California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, and community leaders before a crowd of park professionals, community partners, family members and friends.
Bridge to Park Careers is the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority's (MRCA) job training program, which prepares urban youth (18-26 years old) to be competitive applicants for jobs with park agencies. In an effort for parks to better reflect and serve urban communities, the participants were referred by local park agencies and community-based organizations.
We are pleased to report that by the end of the training program, all nine of the young graduates were offered employment by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
The curriculum used for Bridge to Park Careers merged from multiple separate programs that provided the graduates with certifications (including the UC California Naturalist Certification and the National Association for Interpretation's Interpretive Guide Certification) as well as materials developed just for the program. The curriculum included an overview of the parks movement in Southern California; cultural and natural history of the local mountains; outdoor skills such as orienteering and geography; education and interpretation; customer service and public safety; and leadership development. Sabrina Drill, UC Cooperative Extension's natural resources advisor and associate director of the California Naturalist Program, helped develop this joint training.
"We at the UC California Naturalist Program, are so proud to have been a part of MRCA's Bridge to Park Careers program. From our initial meetings and in-depth training of MRCA's lead instructor to going out and leading the trainees on a tour of the LA River, we loved being a part of this inaugural class," said Drill. "We look forward to continuing to work with the newly certified rangers as well as the future trainees," she added.
The UC California Naturalist Program is designed to introduce Californians to the wonders of our unique ecology and engage the public in study and stewardship of California's natural communities. The program uses a science curriculum, hands-on learning, problem-solving and community service to instill a deep appreciation for the natural communities of the state and to inspire individuals to become stewards of their local resources.
For more information about the UC California Naturalist Program, please click here.