ccBy: Alex Warneke (Cabrillo National Monument)

When I initially came to Cabrillo National Monument, one of my first questions being the communication nerd I am was, “So who runs our digital and social media platforms?”

The short answer (& I believe quite common throughout the Park Service): Everyone and No one.

Almost all the staff had access and could post things, but there was no sort of organized front. The power of these free advertising platforms were ephemeral at best.

Tasked as a Centennial Ambassador to bring us into the 21st century, I sought out to enhance this pivitol connection.

After a couple of months compiling digital media content by myself and spending hours if not days doing this along with the rest of my Ambassador duties piling up, I realized if this was going to be sustainable, I had to find a better way.

During SCA training at the Rockies, I had hoped to create a Digital Media Volunteer brigade from our current pool of volunteers. However, most of our volunteers (& staff for that matter) come to me in regards to anything having to do with the “dreaded internet.” So I realized I was going to have to come up with a contingency plan.

This was about the time I met the San Diego Unified School District Intern Coordinator, Robert Fung. Robert’s sole job is to place high school students into internships all over the county. He was like, “What can my students do here at Cabrillo?”

Then it hit me. What high school student wouldn’t want an internship playing on Facebook and Instagram all day? What better way to reach millennials, then by using millennials?!?

With much of the work force shifting to the online realm, mentoring and giving these students the space to learn how to maintain a professional digital media platform would not only be helpful to me, but be real world experience for them.

So I put out the following call for the Cabrillo Digital Media Internship:

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In less than a week, I had several applications on my desk.

And yesterday, with two bright-eyed and brilliant high school interns, the Millennial Falcon was launched.

Within one day, Chloe and Reyna, from the San Diego MET school blew me away. They read all the books, the websites, and anything I threw at them. They even earned their Jr. Ranger badge because they wanted to wear the pin on their volunteer uniform.

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The ideas and passion they have brought to the table in JUST ONE DAY will drastically change the way we reach the San Diego community through digital media. They are stoked to be helping the park and learning all they can. We have already outlined an entire FIND YOUR PARK video series (Their idea…not mine). I am beyond excited to see what they come up with and encourage all parks to use this template.

The great thing about their school, is that all students are required to work at an internship Tuesdays and Thursdays. So in terms of continuity, once Chloe and Reyna are finished with their term, there will immediately be students to replace them….though both have stated that if they go to college nearby, they will stay forever. 😉

Thus, with a little bit of guidance and a whole bunch of creative freedom, reaching the next generation with the next generation has never looked better.

If you have any questions on how to create a digital media team at your park, please feel free to contact me: alexandria_warneke@nps.gov