Nome-Beltz senior Nichlos Gutowski stars in a documentary that had its Alaska premiere this week. “National Park Diaries” follows Gutowski and other teenagers for three weeks in the summer of 2016 as they work in Denali National Park with the Student Conservation Association (SCA).
Gutowski, who also helped shoot the film, says his interest in taking care of the natural environment started early in life: “When I was a kid, I used to help my grandpa do some stuff. I would help him pick up trash off the road.”
SCA places high school and college students in parks around the country to do work like building and repairing trails, gaining skills to prepare them for careers in conservation. SCA’s Vice President for Communications, Kevin Hamilton, says just as important is the opportunity for personal growth the program provides for students:
“It’s an eye-opening experience. They discover new landscapes in the outdoors, but they discover an interior landscape in terms of what they’re made of and what they can accomplish both in terms of individuals and as a team.”
Over the course of the one-hour film, Hamilton says you can see Gutowski grow into a leader on his team. For his part, Gutowski says the best part of the experience was just getting to spend time in Denali. But he says taking care of the environment shouldn’t be limited to beautiful, wild places like national parks:
“You can do it anywhere you want, basically. You can do it outside your house if you wanted to. You can just go clean up your yard or something and help the environment.”
“National Park Diaries” was screened in the Nome Elementary School commons on October 19th, followed by a panel discussion with Gutowski and staff from SCA and Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.
Image at top: SCA media and education intern Lia Nydes, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve Superintendent Jeanette Koelsch, Nichlos Gutowski, and NPS Park Ranger Lupe Zaragoza spoke about their experiences after the screening of “National Park Diaries” in Nome. Photo: Zoe Grueskin/KNOM.