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

While many University of Miami students cruised the Caribbean Sea or soaked up the South Beach sun during Spring Break, six UM students will be traveling the country on assignment.

Students will be dispatched all across the country, telling the stories of park employees from 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 professors Kim Grinfeder and Sam Terilli are co-leading the project. The project is being completed through a grant from the National Park Service Diversity Recruitment Consortium. Grinfeder and Terilli have used the grant to create both a recruiting tool for the NPS and a way for education students to experience the creation of a journalism project from beginning to end.

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

Eventually, the website will be full of profiles of different park employees who haven’t followed the typical track of becoming a park ranger. The goal is for the NPS to convey the message that anyone, from any background, could find employment in the parks.

“There are many diverse exciting jobs [in the parks] that people don’t realize,” Andrea Ballocchi, a graduate student and member of the project, said.

A total of 16 students were selected from 47 applicants. The remaining 10 students will complete their projects over the remainder of the school year.  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 Terilli.

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 create an in-depth journalism project.

Among those who have been on the trip before and are going again this year are Walyce Almeida. She 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.

The project is being completed through a grant from the National Park Service Diversity Recruitment Consortium. The result of last year’s NPS project can be found at


Multiple corrections have been made since this article’s original publication. The Miami Hurricane apologizes for the errors. To see the original, click here.