Students take Spring Break to report on National Parks (ORIGINAL)

While many University of Miami students cruised the Caribbean Sea or soaked up the South Beach sun during Spring Break, 16 UM students will be taking an all-inclusive trip traveling the country this spring break.

From March 14th to 17th, they collected multimedia stories for the National Park Service at four national park sites -California’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, Washington, D.C.’s National Mall and Memorial Parks and Acadia National Park in Maine.

School of Communication Professor Kim Grinfeder and his teacher’s assistant Andrea Ballocchi said the students were asked by the parks to create multimedia stories covering the variety of jobs numerous employees hold.

“There are many diverse exciting jobs [in the parks] that people don’t realize,” Ballocchi said.

Representatives from all of the National Parks involved said they recruit the students to gather the multimedia stories in hopes of recruiting more people to come work in the parks. While they are there, students will make profiles of various employees with different positions for the National Park Service.

The 16 students were selected from a total of 47 applicants. The accepted students range from freshman to graduate students.

Prior to traveling to the parks, the students had to research the cost of their own accommodations, including flight and hotel. Then they had to propose a budget and get it approved by Grinfeder and Ballocchi.

Students have also been given $35 a day for food. Ballocchi says the students have to prepare their own budgets in order to have the full experience of learning how to produce.

According to Grinfeder, students walk away from the National Parks Services project with more than a good time and an expenses paid vacation. They will walk away from the experience will the tools to be successful.

“Students will gain field experience and excellent products for their portfolio,” Grinfeder said.

Among those who have been on the trip before and are going again this year are Walyce Almeida and Ballochi. Almeida is a graduate student studying multimedia journalism. Her work will be featured online and consist of an article and audio/photo slideshow.

Not only does her work have to show the jobs of park employees, but also the different backgrounds of each person.

“The people I do stories on have to be of different ethnicities and walks of life to show some diversity,” Almeida said.