Bandelier Conservation Corps Preservation Program

One of our favorite projects at Bandelier National Monument connects young people with their heritage and the National Park Service. What a great combination!

Last summer, more than 10 Pueblo youth participated in the Bandelier Conservation Corps Preservation Program. These young men and women from nearby Pueblos spent their summer working with park preservation staff to accomplish the annual stabilization task list on cultural sites at the Monument.

Superintendent Jason Lott and his staff pulled from a range of resources to create important partnerships that brought the program to Bandelier.

The program was part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's HOPE initiative, or Hands-On Preservation Experience. The goal of this national program is to give young people the skills necessary to preserve historical sites on public lands. The Bandelier crew was filled with young people whose ancestors constructed the pueblos on which they worked.

The National Park Service also teamed with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, a well-respected youth program based in Taos. RMYC sponsors a variety of programs for 18 to 24 year olds, and they handled the administrative part of the project.

Bandelier preservation crews work each summer to stabilize and repair the Ancestral Pueblo structures at the park. The staff taught the program participants their skills, and also much about the culture which they see as at a crossroads: as the pressure of the outside world increases, Pueblo language, skills, and philosophies are becoming forgotten. The all-Pueblo crew came from Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Cochiti, and Santa Domingo pueblos. So not only does the program teach hands-on skills, it provides an opportunity for cross-cultural learning.

Photo by Chris Clark of the Los Alamos Daily Post

The connection to the NPS? Jason Lott proudly points out that two of the summer's crew members now have jobs with the National Park Service.

See for yourself what the experience at Bandelier means to the young participant in this YouTube video.

The Friends of Bandelier believe that programs such as this are invaluable to the future of youth but to the National Parks. We hope to provide support for this program for at least the next five years. Look for more information about how you can help when we launch our Bandelier Centennial campaign in early 2016.