[IMAGE]Amtrak-San-Joaquins-at-Merced-full-1.jpg[/IMAGE]Amtrak's partnership this summer with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) is enabling high school and college age students from around the country to gain hands-on experience preserving Yosemite National Park, one of Amtrak's most popular destinations.
"Amtrak is a great way to travel to help preserve the environment, and it is important to us to support efforts like SCA to help keep Yosemite National Park in top condition," said Carol Shannon, Amtrak director of West Marketing, adding each year thousands of visitors take the Amtrak San Joaquin trains to Yosemite via connecting motorcoach service from the Merced, Calif., train station.
Amtrak and SCA are sponsoring 24 high school and college students as part of a wilderness restoration crew to contribute to the preservation of Yosemite and also gain valuable new skills and career experiences. The students have been working non-stop since June undertaking a variety of projects alongside seasoned National Park Service professionals including: tracking black bears; removing unwanted campsites and invasive plants; monitoring water quality; updating museum archives and enhancing the visitor's experience. The program runs through the end of September.
"SCA is thrilled to partner with Amtrak and the National Park Service to build the next generation of conservation leaders and continue the tradition of young people caring for their environment," said Jay Watson, western regional director for SCA. "We're so pleased to be able to offer these valuable opportunities to America's emerging stewards."
This partnership with SCA furthers Amtrak's commitment to be a transportation leader on environmental issues and reinforces its other green programs, such as offering passengers the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets for their rail travel and direct those funds to such areas as certified sustainable reforestation and alternative energy projects.
Approximately 3.4 million people visit Yosemite National Park each year. For more than 30 years, SCA has sent crews and interns to Yosemite to work in a wide variety of disciplines. Many graduates of the program go on to careers in the National Park Service.
Additional funding for the program comes from the Yosemite Fund and Delaware North.