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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Students Learn About Environment by Working in It

July 2, 2008 — Shelita Sykes, 16, thought she'd take up nursing, but after a couple of weeks on a summer trail-maintenance job with the Student Conservation Association, she's changed her tune.
"Everything I see, I want to do," she said, taking a break from her duties with a shovel and pickax on St. John's Brown Bay trail.
The St. Croix Central High School student thought the summer job would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but she wasn't prepared to be so enthused about the environmental job possibilities she's now exploring.
Sykes and two other St. Croix students, Sarah Pascal, 16, and Yusuf Roach, 17, joined three students from the mainland for the summer job. The mainland students are Carson Friddle, 18, of Washington, D.C.; Asha Phadke, 18, of Chicago; and Eric Wright, 16, of San Francisco.
One of the group's two leaders is Jesus Espinosa, a marine biology and environmental science teacher at Central High School.
"Not too many V.I. students are made aware of the importance of the environment in the Virgin Islands," he said.
In fact, he said, he finds it difficult to get students to sign up for his environmental-science classes at Central High School. Perhaps he has opened a few eyes through the Student Conservation Association program, sponsored by the Friends of V.I. National Park. The Student Conservation Association is a national organization that places students in summer jobs at parks around the country.
The program helps protect the park's resources and improve its trails, said Kristin Maize, the Friends program manager. This is the eighth year the Friends sponsored the program.
"We do it to provide opportunities for students from the Virgin Islands and students from the States," she said.
Friddle will attend Potomac State College in West Virginia this fall, and he's leaning toward an environmental career.
"Maybe a park ranger," he said.
Phadke is headed to the University of Richmond in Virginia to major in environmental studies. This is her second summer on a Student Conservation Association crew.
The others aren't headed down an environmental path, but said they're enjoying the work.
"It seemed like a great experience to come and help the national park," said Pascal, who attends Central High School and plans a career in family law.
Roach, who just graduated from Country Day School on St. Croix, wants to write for magazines after he finishes studying journalism at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Penn. Why did he sign up for the summer job?
"I wanted to get off St. Croix," Roach said.
The students are camped at Cinnamon Bay Campground for their four-week stay on St. John.
Wright and the group's other leader Mandy Forslund, who was a teacher at All Saints School on St. Thomas, were off Wednesday on a trip to Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center to deal with a slight medical problem.
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