National Park Service selects three students for internships

Staff Report

Three Alabama State University students were selected by the National Park Service (NPS) for competitive paid internships at some of its historic sites located in Alabama. The internships are part of the agency’s nationwide Fund II Foundation’s Intern X program. 

Dax Craig, Andrew Chatmon and Joshua Wilkinson have been named as participants in the Intern X program, according to Shirley Baxter, the National Park Service’s supervisory park ranger. 

“The Intern X program gives the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail the opportunity to focus on specific projects like social justice education or the collection of oral histories while utilizing ASU student interns who gain new skills and obtain real-life experiences,” Baxter said. 

The NPS’s new Intern X students from ASU will each be involved in different jobs at a historic site under Baxter’s supervision. 

Andrew Chatmon will be a digital media intern at the Montgomery Interpretive Center at ASU. He will be involved in the Center’s Content Digital project, utilizing digital media to reach and engage the public through strategically designed content. Chatmon will be working to compile a list of individuals who were involved in the civil rights movement in Wilcox County. He will be specifically looking to identify the “foot-soldiers” of the movement, which were residents who engaged in meaningful activity in the fight for civil rights, but heretofore haven’t been formally recognized publicly. An integral part of this internship revolves around the collection of oral histories from these individuals or their family members so their stories may be part of the record. 

“This internship is a big step for me. It will give me the practical experience that I need to be an accomplished student and soon-to-be employee in the computer information systems arena, which is my major and my chosen career path,” Chatmon said. 

As an NPS digital archives intern at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, Dax Craig will conduct research using primary and secondary sources. His work will include obtaining and digitizing oral histories, books, articles, online resources, photographs and in-person interviews to prepare the text for an interpretive handbook on the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. 

“I am extremely excited to be accepted into this program, as it is both an honor and privilege to be involved with the culture surrounding the Tuskegee Airmen. The site that I will be working has a rich history of perseverance and determination of the ‘Red Tails’ as the Tuskegee Airmen are known across the globe,” Craig said. “Through this experience, I hope to gain a greater appreciation for those great men and women that came before me by immersing myself into this new and fascinating project.” 

Joshua Wilkinson will be the education intern at the Montgomery Interpretive Center at ASU and will be tasked to develop both an on-site and an off-site social justice program that incorporates the themes of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. 

In this position, he will have interaction with NPS staff, educators, civil rights activists and the community-at-large to discover the impact of social justice and how to best educate young people on its importance. The expected outcome will consist of resources relevant to social justice, a curriculum with lesson plans that include detailed activities and photographs to be used for programs conducted at either the Selma, Lowndes or Montgomery Interpretive Centers or off site at a school or community center. 

“The themes of the Selma to Montgomery March are very relevant to today’s society. The implementation of this program will allow us to not only educate the public on the importance of its historical events and accomplishments, but also to engage with youth to encourage stewardship and the impact of being a proactive citizen,” Wilkinson stated. 

MISSION OF THE INTERNSHIP X PROGRAM

The mission of the Fund II Foundation’s Intern X program is to connect students of color with organizations and employers across the country that provide these young people an opportunity to utilize their skills and knowledge in the real workforce. The National Park Foundation, National Park Service and Greening Youth Foundation have come together to develop an opportunity for interns to experience national park sites, opening up their awareness and understanding of the significant historical impact these sites have made on our country.

INTERNSHIPS IMPORTANT TO ALL CONCERNED

The National Park Service’s supervisory park ranger believes that a new and fertile amount of data will be harvested by the three ASU interns, which will be greatly beneficial to both historians and the general public in the future. 

“The ASU student interns, our National Park Service, Alabama State University and the public are all beneficiaries of the Intern X program,” Baxter emphasized. 

“It’s a win-win-win situation for all concerned,” she concluded.