Over the busy summers, Wilderness Inquiry participates in the City of Minneapolis ‘Step Up’ program. This internship program places Minneapolis youth in paid positions in career-oriented jobs that provides resume and skill building experience, networking, and mentoring. For WI, it is a wonderful way to introduce urban students to outdoor careers. This summer, a Minneapolis Public Schools student named Jozlyn joined WI as a warehouse intern. Jozlyn’s independence and detail oriented work ethic were a great fit for the non-stop action of WI’s summer warehouse frenzy. Jozlyn held responsibilities in managing the incoming trip board, restocking returning supplies, and keeping order of trip gear for the next “pack out.” The WI warehouse is the heart of our summertime operation, and Jozlyn quickly established herself as a contributor and leader.
At summer’s end, WI had an opportunity for Jozlyn, her parents and three siblings to join a multi-day Voyageur canoe trip down the St. Croix River. For the family who moved to Minnesota from Ecuador, this was their first camping and paddling experience. For Jozlyn, this was an opportunity to put a season’s worth of learning into action. She and her family spent three days on the river, traveling from Interstate State Park to William O’Brien and experiencing the wonders of the scenic river along the way. This might have been a typical Minnesota outdoor experience — with big campfires, starry skies, s’mores, and a few bugs — but it was also a journey into new territory.
The Step Up program is a natural partnership for WI, with a shared mission to provide real-world employment experiences to youth and young adults. For WI, this is an opportunity to prepare students for careers in the outdoors industry. For youth participants, the experience provides hands-on skills and connections that can shape their dreams and aspirations, and that they can bring back to their families and communities.
For Jozlyn and her family, we look forward to the day when her three younger siblings might join the WI team to explore all that the outdoors has to offer.