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North Hills Monthly

Students Engage in Leadership Development at State and National Parks

Mar 31, 2019 08:54PM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine

Back Row – Halee Sesock, Chance Evtin, Sam Cvonin, Tyler Gross; Front Row – Hayley McEvoy, Park Ranger John Bernstiel, Hope Leer, Luke Gehenio, Natural Resource Tech. Kevin Brown, Mackenzie Croyle

The National Parks of Western Pennsylvania hosted nine students from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, from March 10-16, 2019, for its second annual Alternative Break Service Program. This year’s program theme was “Caring for our Nation’s Parks and Public Lands.”  These students spent the week working with national and state park site staff and volunteers completing services projects at sites located in the local area. Along with performing direct service, the students also received relevant training and educational presentations in an effort to prepare them for, and give context to, how their work assists the park staff and contributes to the visitor experience.  

This year’s program was a one-of-a-kind event exposing these “Alt Breakers” to the benefits of their national and state park sites as well as the important roles park partners play in supporting these special places. This program is also part of the nationally recognized organization Break Away. The projects completed were diverse, both in location and category. Students received hands-on experience in the fields of cultural and natural resource management, historical restoration, operational safety, maintenance, and interpretation. These projects were performed at Flight 93 National Memorial, Johnstown Flood National Memorial, Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Laurel Hill State Park, and Camp Allegheny.   

The students were housed at Camp Allegheny, a camp facility that borders Flight 93 National Memorial. The cost of this program was paid for with funds raised by the Friends of Flight 93, making this one of the only programs of its type in the country in which the host site does not solicit a fee from the participating university students. Students who completed the program this year are eligible to receive one credit added to their transcripts from University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

To learn more about the Friends, make a donation to support the memorial, or become a member visit