Fourteen Native American Jump Start Program (NAJSEP) summer interns from four reservations in South Dakota (Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, Yankton Sioux Reservation, Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, and Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation) completed their summer internships at the Black Hills National Forest in the Youth Natural Resource Program (YNRP) of US Forest Service and National Parks Service. According to Lou Conroy the YNRP Coordinator, "the YNRP program is often the first job the young people have experienced and is a great resume builder". The youth do many job tasks including trail building, log cabin restoration, stream enhancement, and even do a shift at Mount Rushmore.
"This is an opportunity to get more kids in the woods," said Lou Conroy, "There are a lot of young people that are becoming detached from the outdoors and nature, and this is an opportunity for the U.S. Forest Service to give back and allow young people to play an active role in the management of the national forest." Conroy said that the kids build job skills, but they also build friendships.
"NAJSEP is the connecting point between the deserving summer interns and jobs/employers; and many times is the only conduit for the transportation and funds to reach their first pay check for the interns", according to C. Scott Evans, NAJSEP founder.
Unemployment on some of these Reservations is over 85%; so many times good kids do not have a chance for employment at a summer job. According to Evans, "The NAJSEP program is only for summer jobs and is not an "assimilation" program. The NAJSEP Program is a link between the employer and Native American youth that want a summer job; however, the summer jobs can certainly turn into life long careers. NAJSEP is not connected to any religious group/faith and receives no governmental support of any kind."
Evans added, "The program runs totally on donations and any amount will help." The 2010 NAJSEP participants were, Julia Ghost, Michael Red Cloud, Jonathan Hambelton, Vance Kirton, Jefferson Swallow, Adonis Lone Elk, Babian Rodriguez, Shantelle Cruz, Belinda Brown Wolf, Preston Bagola, Lester Peneaux, Jarred Peneaux, Thomas Ridley Jr., and Josh American Horse.