Young Samoans to Experience Conservation through National Park Partnership
The National Park of American Samoa, in partnership with the non-profit group American Conservation Experience (ACE), is sending four young Samoan employees on conservation internships to National Park Service sites on the mainland US. This exchange opportunity will give these exceptional young Samoan men and women exposure to the greater National Park Service mission and culture, as well as conservation work. It also gives them an opportunity to share the Samoan culture with their work crews in those parks. Mainland parks, ACE, the participants, and the national park have embraced this concept and all have agreed to send four Samoan employees primarily due to the enthusiasm of those locations hosting the interns, and their willingness to support this program, allowing more young people to travel and gain this experience.
Elaine Lio of Asili has worked in the park’s forest lands and in administration for the national park for two years. She will spend eight weeks in Pinnacles National Monument and Sequoia National Park in California. Her work will focus on vegetation and native forest restoration as well as administrative tasks.
Tasi Toloa of Faleniu has worked on the trail and marine crews at the national park for four years. He will fly to Florida where he will spend six weeks at Dry Tortugas National Park. Tasi will assist in field work on the remote island in the Gulf of Mexico; including sea turtle monitoring, rat management and data entry. He will also receive specialized motor boat training.
Shaun Laolagi of Nu’uuli and Ricky Misa’alefua of Ofu will spend six weeks in the desert southwest. They will support trail work at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah and archeological projects in Grand Canyon National Park and Navajo National Monument in AZ.
“Youth are a part of life in American Samoa. The extended family is the foundation of the culture and therefore the children are the foundation of life. This is true at the National Park of American Samoa as well. Employing, mentoring and developing youth is part of what the park does every day in every branch. They are the future of the park and of stewardship in Samoa,” says Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “We hope this opportunity enhances their knowledge, which they can bring back to American Samoa.”