Founded in 1999, the Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program (CRDIP) offers unique career exploration opportunities in historic preservation and cultural resource management for undergraduate and graduate students of diverse backgrounds. The WASO Cultural Resources Associateship partners with the Student Conservation Association in administering this program. This partnership fulfils the Call to action item #2, “Step by Step”.
During the summer of 2012 16 CRDIP interns worked in 14 National Park units nationwide and 2 partnering agencies and non-profits. Each intern worked closely with park cultural resources staff to learn about cultural resources management activities in each unit. Interns also worked on independent projects, such as researching the Reconstruction era in Natchez, Mississippi and enslaved families in Cane River Creole National Historical Park. Several interns engaged in researching and processing artifacts for museum collections and in monitoring and documenting archeological sites.
Several internships promoted action item #33, “Homegrown,” by recruiting local interns. For example, interns who make their homes near Ala Kahakai National Historical Trail/ Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park and Gateway National Recreation Area each worked to establish a more positive relationship between the Park and local resident communities. At Gateway, a CRDIP intern from the neighboring Hindu community facilitated communication between the park and the resident community. Communication was needed so that the community understood the impact of their use of park resources and the park understood the community’s religious and ceremonial needs.
In carrying out action item #36, “Value Diversity,” the CRDIP not only values interns with diverse ethnic backgrounds, the program provides opportunities for those interns to contribute to research, management, and interpretation about cultural resources associated with the diverse American past. Projects in 2012 allowed interns to document archeological sites, conduct historical research, and carry out maintenance plans for collections.
Interns also attended a three-day Career Workshop in August in Washington, D.C. in order to gain exposure to programs and institutions beyond their summer internship site. Students met with NPS officials, learned about NPS programs, and met with professionals from other institutions, such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Smithsonian Institution to get a sense of the many different aspects of the field. Interns also enthusiastically shared their internship projects and experiences with each other and NPS staff.
In FY 2012 the African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation graciously provided a grant for four interns, thus expanding the reach of the CRDIP program. We are looking forward to another great group of CRDIP interns to learn about cultural resources in 2013.