By Staff Sgt. Wayne Barnett (Fort Carson)August 4, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Seventeen Fort Carson youths participated in a weeklong adventure and got a glimpse of what a career as a park ranger or game warden might be like.
The “Post to Parks” program, sponsored by the National Park Foundation, was held at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.
“We have been pursuing a Post to Parks program for the last couple of years now, and it has really begun to get some traction and is working real well for us,” said Keith Payne, park superintendent.
Post to Parks supports the goals set forth by the Joining Forces initiative, launched by first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, according to a National Park Service press release.
The goal of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is to get military youths connected with the park through a variety of activities.
During the week’s program, teens from Fort Carson participated in trail widening, weed pulling and trained to leave no trace. The youths were under the supervision of park service employees and mentored by nine members of the Mile High Youth Corps.
“It’s been really great to work with the kids from Carson, a lot of them seem eager to learn about the outdoors and the national park,” said Melanie Weber, MHYC. “It has been great for us; it gives us the chance to exercise some leadership and repeat some of the knowledge we have learned.”
The Fort Carson teens also participated in labs, panel discussions and tours of the Hornbek Homestead.
“It’s been a great experience to come out here and look at the beauty, work on the trails and gain a new life experience,” said Marvin Gray, a Fort Carson youth. “It beats sitting around the house playing video games and basketball.”
The youths had the opportunity to look for fossils. Using paleontologist tools, they were able to split layers of shale rock. Jacob Smith, 13, found a bug in his piece of shale. When examined by the experts, the fossil find will be credited to him, according to park officials.
“I had never found a fully intact bug before, so it was really cool,” said Smith.