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Connecting Youth To The Outdoors

Kevin Mendoza, Interpretation


YLP Intern

My Name is Kevin Mendoza. I am a Mathematical Physics and Earth Systems Science major. Originally I am from Los Angeles, but I spent two years in Colorado Prior to coming to UC Merced. My Interests include metalworking, gold prospecting, backpacking, fishing, and playing flamenco guitar.

Last Summer I participated in the YLP Summer internship in Yosemite as an Interpretive Ranger. My job mainly consisted of assisting the Hills Studio Visitor Center at the south entrance of the park, where I helped set up displays, answered visitor questions about the park, and provided information on wilderness leave-no-trace values and wildlands preservation. I also conducted the early morning ‘Coffee with a Ranger’ program in the Wawona Campground (where I developed a taste for ‘cowboy mocha’ ) and led my own Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias Interpretive Ranger Walk. The Ranger Walk was by far my favorite part of the job; I got to lead visitors among trees my Dad taught me to love and show visitors many aspects of the Grove: talking to visitors about fire management, life cycle ecology, and climate change in the grove was immensely satisfying. Not many people get to work amongst 2000 year old trees!

After the internship I was much more confident interfacing with strangers. Because I participated in the program I was able to work at the Wilderness Education Center on campus, where I am continuing to talk confidently with people about preservation, recreation, and natural history.

This internship also opened up for me many professional opportunities, both with the National Park Service and with various other agencies. If I happen to go to another State for grad school, I will have many more employment opportunities.

The best part about the internship however, was the random amazing things that would happen. I sheltered from a storm under a Giant Sequoia; A seasoned Ranger told me stories under the lightning strikes, I hiked 18 miles in a day; incredibly empowering feats of endurance I didn’t know I could accomplish, Learning about the best local pizza places, the best fishing holes, about your best friends (fellow interns), all culminated to make the most important, enjoyable, and amazing summer of my life.

Intern Video

Internship Description

Park ranger – interpreters connect people to parks. They play a key role in ensuring that visitors have a meaningful, satisfying, and safe park experience, help visitors decide how to spend their time in the park, and inform them about the wonders that await their discovery. Park ranger – interpreters are specially trained to engage the public so that each park visitor can find a personal connection with the meanings and values found in the places and stories of that park. They help visitors explore the many dimensions of parks by introducing them to a variety of perspectives. By providing the opportunity for visitors to care about the places they visit, they promote stewardship and the opportunity for those visitors to care for park resources. The work done by park ranger-interpreters through effective interpretive and educational programs encourages the development of a personal stewardship ethic and broadens public support for preserving and protecting park resources, so that they may be enjoyed by present and future generations..


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