Summer 2013 marked the first year that the Cheyenne River Youth Project® hired 10 summer interns, ages 12 to 17, to work on special wellness projects and on programs related to the 2-acre, naturally grown, pesticide-free Winyan Toka Win garden. Interns commit to working a total of 60 hours at CRYP’s East Lincoln Street campus before school resumes in the fall. Thanks to funding from Diabetes Action Research (DARE), each intern receives a $500 stipend at the conclusion of his or her summer internship.

Through the new internships, we’re really looking forward to getting our teens even more involved in the garden and in our wellness programming. Not only will they develop a strong work ethic and take on a valuable leadership role at the Cokata Wiconi teen center, they’ll learn so much about respecting the land, the water and the foods we’re growing. They’ll learn about sustainability, from rain-water harvesting and drip-irrigation to food preservation methods like canning and drying. And perhaps more importantly, they’ll learn to incorporate Lakota principles into everything they do, which will enhance their connectedness to both their land and their culture. We’re excited, because we’ve always envisioned our garden as an outdoor fitness center, a health food store, an engine for economic development and a classroom for all ages. With the new internship program, we can see that vision come to life.

CRYP hopes the internships will become a regular program for Cheyenne River youth, available each summer from early June through late August.