It might seem like a no-brainer, but National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, and other public lands belong to all Americans. Despite that fact, many Americans don’t experience the benefits of learning, serving, and working on public lands.
The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) is partnering with AmeriCorps*VISTA and BRIDGE Network to develop innovative solutions that support underserved communities in using public lands for employment opportunities, health, and education.
DOI/VISTA Alumni Orlando Valerino (center front), served with Outward Bound Adventures (OBA) – here with trainees for OBA’s Diverse Outdoor Leadership Institute (DOLI)
The resulting DOI/VISTA Initiative places yearlong AmeriCorps*VISTA Volunteers in dozens of underserved communities across the country. There are currently 43 DOI/VISTAs in active service. DOI/VISTA sites serve with nonprofits who partner with the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
DOI/VISTAs develop job-skills training and youth employment programs, work to develop public spaces, build partnerships, and on the whole, work to build long-term capacity for the nonprofits they serve.
DOI/VISTA Phoebe Mankieiwicz, currently serving a second year with the Harlem River Working Group, meeting with NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver at the opening of Bridge Park in the Bronx.
DOI/VISTA Alumni finish their year of national service with a full year of non-competitive eligibility status, which has enabled several to pursue permanent employment within DOI or other government agencies after completing their service.
DOI/VISTA Alumni Angela Allison (left) served with the New River Gorge National River in the development of Camp Brookside and the Friends of the New River Gorge National River in Southern, WV. She now is a full-time NPS Interpretive ranger with the park.
Funding for DOI/VISTA comes from individual DOI bureaus, AmeriCorps*VISTA, and from the office of Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell as a part of the Play, Learn, Serve, Work, Initiative.
The DOI/VISTA Team is operated as a part of:
BRIDGE Network, a National AmeriCorps Sponsor whose mission is to Build capacity, Restore environments, Innovate solutions, Develop opportunities, Grow support, and Empower leaders.
Learn more at www.gobridgenet.org