The inaugural class of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Career Academy graduated Friday during a ceremony on Jekyll Island.
Twenty-one high schoolers from across the state were selected from a pool of more than 250 applicants for DNR’s first-ever Career Academy, held July 17-23 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Education Center and the Georgia 4-H Center at Camp Jekyll.
The Career Academy gave students hands-on opportunities to learn about careers with DNR’s Wildlife Resources, Law Enforcement, Coastal Resources, and State Parks and Historic Sites divisions, explained Lindsey Brown, the program’s director.
“Our goal with the Career Academy is to show students first-hand what it takes to work for Georgia DNR and how they can gear their education and training toward that path,” Brown said. “It’s an immersive program where students shadow full-time DNR staff, explore career opportunities, and learn what it takes to manage the natural resources of the largest state east of the Mississippi River.”
Students spent four nights at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Education Center in Mansfield before traveling to Georgia 4-H’s Camp Jekyll. At Charlie Elliott, the students spent a day each with DNR’s Wildlife Resources, Law Enforcement, and State Parks and Historic Sites division, followed by a full day on the coast with DNR’s Coastal Resources Division.
Career Academy programming included visits to Hard Labor Creek State Park, the Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery, Fort King George State Historic Site, and Coastal Regional Headquarters. Students participated in game management practices, fisheries sampling through electrofishing, park management needs including trail restoration and the protection of historic resources, game warden activities, shrimp trawling aboard the Research Vessel Reid W. Harris, beach seining and water quality sampling.
Mark Williams, commissioner of DNR, said the Career Academy will help identify and encourage the next generation of conservationists who will sustain, enhance, protect, and conserve Georgia's natural, historic, and cultural resources for present and future generations.
“The DNR Career Academy is about more than having a good time,” Williams said. “This is about identifying, encouraging, and engaging Georgia’s future natural resource managers. These talented young people who attended the Career Academy now have a better understanding of what is involved in our field, how they can be competitive applicants in the future, and what types of jobs may interest them.”
Dates for the 2023 DNR Career Academy have not been set. Parents, guardians, or educators who would like to be notified when dates have been set and the application period opens can visit GaDNR.org/CareerAcademy.
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