GREENSBURG – Seven local students set out for an adventurous stay at Yellowstone National Park this week as part of a fledgling local program intended to offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Board members of “Youth to Yellowstone” selected soon-to-be seniors from all three local high schools for the trip, which will include hiking, camping and other outdoor activities in the splendor of one of the country’s most notable landmarks.
Rev. Jerran Jackson, a minister at Clarksburg Christian Church, serves on the Youth to Yellowstone board and told the Daily News the students are excited about the trip, which kicked off at 9 a.m. Thursday morning when the group departed from the Decatur County Community Schools Administration Building for the nine-day trip, which officials hope to turn into an annual tradition.
The students — Shaylyn Palmer, Katie Jo Cadill and Byron Haley, of South Decatur; Janine Goest and Chris Jarman, of North Decatur; and Stephanie McIntyre and Damian Rigby, of Greensburg — were selected based on essays they submitted in May. Jackson said the students wrote about appreciating nature, looking forward to enjoying “the great outdoors,” and having what one student called “the adventure of a lifetime.”
That last observation may well define the trip, which will include observations of wildlife, hiking excursions and many other activities. Jackson said students may also get a “behind the scenes” look at park ranger life, though some activities may vary based on park attendance and staff availability. About 3 million people visit Yellowstone National Park annually, according to the National Park Service.
Students are expected to keep a nightly journal recapping the day’s events, and each must speak about their experiences as a show of gratitude at one of the local businesses and organizations that funded the trip.
“It’s great for the people who donated to hear that [thank you presentation],” Rev. Jackson said. “It’s also a great learning exercise for the students.”