Conservation Program Offers GRIC Youth An Opportunity to Preserve History

Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


A special opportunity for Community members to build connections with the past is being offered by the National Park Service (NPS). The Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program (TTAP) has created positions that allow Native individuals from a local tribal community to work alongside NPS staff at the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument located in Coolidge.  


“This is the first program of its kind that has reached out to tribal youth. It is our pilot year and we hope to recruit local Native youth from community’s close to the park,” said Bianca Wahkinney, Conservation Member Coordinator with American Conservations Experience, another partner in the effort. 


Wahkinney, who is of Oneida Kiowa Comanche and Ottawa descent, said positions like the TTAP brings individuals from tribal community’s closer to their peoples’ history. 


“The idea is to get young people out in the NPS system and become stewards of nature, but in this case history,” said Wahkinney. “We want young people and members who have a connection to these places.” 


Each of the parks’ national monuments will have different projects for TTAP members, with the work based on rehabilitation of structures, restoration and trail maintenance. Members will be to suggest their own project as well. 


The ATTAP member opportunities will also be offered through the Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle National Monuments. There, ATTAP members will be tasked with work at the Tuzigoot Pueblo and the Cavate site at the Montezuma Castle National Monument. 


“The great thing about these opportunities, there is no experience necessary. We are hoping to expose them to cultural preservation, so that they can apply their skills in other places in this kind of work,” said Wahkinney. 


She said the opportunity is way for youth to gain exposure working with the NPS, DOI and other partners in a unique environment – one closely related to the recruits’ culture and history.  


“We want them to get work exposure working with different agencies, but most of all in conservation preservation,” said Wahkinney. “We have been working on this for months and now that we officially opened the applications, it is time to reach out to tribal communities that are local to the National Monuments.” 

For more information about the TTAP position description and compensation, please go to to apply. You can also contact Bianca Wahkinney at