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teen internships

March Hall of Fame: Genevieve Iron Lightning

When the Cheyenne River Youth Project designed its innovative teen internship program, it created four distinct internship areas to appeal to a diverse range of interests. Yet staff members are discovering that many teens choose to participate in all of them. Once the kids start learning, it seems, they don’t want to stop.

Genevieve Iron Lightning, 16, is one of those kids. She has participated in all four internships—sustainable agriculture, social enterprise, art, and wellness—and she says she appreciates the many different skills she has acquired through those opportunities.

“In the Keya Cafe, I liked making drinks and stocking the pastries and desserts,” she recalls. “The social enterprise internship taught me a lot of customer service skills, like how to address people and deal with issues.

“I also liked learning about public speaking,” she says of her internship experiences at CRYP. “I’m very vocal already, so it’s helpful to learn how to really draw people into what you’re saying.”

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    Attention, Teens: Come to Midnight Basketball and Learn More About CRYP’s Internship Program!

Attention, Teens: Come to Midnight Basketball and Learn More About CRYP’s Internship Program!

The Cheyenne River Youth Project® is inviting local youth to attend Midnight Basketball at the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center on Friday, Feb. 24 and Thursday, Mar. 2. Not only will 13- to 18-year-olds have the always-welcome opportunity to play their favorite sport and hang out with friends, they’ll be able to learn more about the nonprofit youth organization’s innovative teen internship program.

On these two evenings, Midnight Basketball will incorporate a recruitment station where teens can get more information about upcoming internships in wellness, sustainable agriculture, social enterprise and the arts.

“We’re looking forward to meeting with kids who might not be fully aware of what we offer here,” said Tammy Granados, CRYP’s youth programs director. “Through the internship program, teens can earn their own money, earn valuable certifications, and gain real-life job experience.”

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February Hall of Fame: Claudia Iron Hawk

The beating heart of the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center is its internship program. Created three years ago to provide Cheyenne River’s teens with opportunities to learn valuable job and life skills, the program now includes robust, innovative internships in sustainable agriculture, social enterprises, wellness and the arts.

Some teens gravitate to internships in just one area. Others, like Claudia Iron Hawk, are so inspired by what they’ve learned, they seek new opportunities at every turn. Claudia, 16, has already completed three sustainable agriculture internships, an arts internship focused on graffiti and street art, and a social enterprises internship, which involves operations in the youth project’s Keya (Turtle) Cafe and Keya Gift Shop.

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    Keya Cafe to Temporarily Close Jan. 27, Reopen Seasonally in May with Exciting Updates

Keya Cafe to Temporarily Close Jan. 27, Reopen Seasonally in May with Exciting Updates

The Cheyenne River Youth Project® has announced that it will temporarily close its Keya (Turtle) Cafe at the end of this month, with the last day of regular service scheduled for Friday, Jan. 27. The nonprofit youth organization will devote the next few months to upgrading the cafe; it will host a grand reopening celebration in May, just in time for the busy summer season on the Cheyenne River Lakota reservation.

According to Molly Vetter, CRYP’s social enterprises manager, upgrades will include new equipment, an innovative menu, and a robust e-commerce option for those who wish to make online purchases from the Keya Cafe and Keya Gift Shop.

“We’re going to be adding two new freezers, as well as new equipment for food preservation and our coffeehouse operations,” Vetter explained. “We’re looking forward to presenting an entirely new menu with even more farm-to-table produce, and we’ll be offering traditional Lakota dishes on a regular basis.”

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November Hall of Fame: Brenton Veit

Fifteen-year-old Brenton Veit might have originally signed up for a teen internship at the Cheyenne River Youth Project to earn a little extra money, but he ended up taking home much more than his stipend.

Brenton has attended CRYP programs since he was in sixth grade, taking advantage of the opportunity to get out of the house and spend time with staff, volunteers and friends. Open gym has always been a huge draw, but that’s not what makes the youth project special, in his opinion.

“It’s the way they treat us,” he reflects. “I can just be myself when I’m there.”

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CRYP Graduates 184 Teen Interns

In the nearly three years since the Cheyenne River Youth Project® launched its innovative teen internship program at the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center, 184 teenagers have completed internships in sustainable agriculture, social enterprise, wellness and art. Not only have these young people gained valuable skills that will serve them well all their lives, they are having a lasting impact on the Cheyenne River reservation’s economy.

For CRYP, it’s all about the development of the Lakota workforce—and building healthy, resilient, well-rounded adults in the process. Since 2014, the nonprofit youth organization has invested $36,950 in Cheyenne River’s teenagers, providing instruction, mentorship, workshops, certifications, real-life job experience and wages. According to Julie Garreau, executive director, that’s making a difference on more than one level.

“When the kids earn their own money, they’re able to buy things they need,” Garreau explained. “Even more importantly, they’re thinking about how to earn more money, and about their own futures. One teen used his stipend to buy a lawn mower and started providing local lawn-care services. Others have purchased musical equipment. It’s really exciting to see that.”

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September Hall of Fame: Randi Little Star

In the years since we launched our Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center’s internship programs, we’ve learned two very important things. Cheyenne River’s teens crave opportunities to learn new job and life skills, and they welcome mentorships that inspire them and encourage them to imagine all the possibilities for the future.

Some of these teens desire and appreciate these experiences so much, they sign up for every internship we offer. Randi Little Star, 16, is one of them. This active 10th-grader has completed Sustainable Agriculture, Social Enterprise and Wellness internships, and she’s currently working her way through the Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Teen Arts Internship.

“I signed up for all the internships because I like helping people, and I really wanted to gain more experience in all these different areas,” Randi says. “I’d like to do even more, because I enjoy the tasks, and I love learning new things every day.”

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August Hall of Fame: Salicia Jewett

While many of the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s teen interns have completed multiple internship programs at our Eagle Butte campus, we are constantly welcoming new participants. We take great pleasure in watching them learn new skills, develop a sense of pride in themselves and in their work, and design future plans that incorporate these meaningful job and life experiences.

Salicia Jewett, 17, is one of our new interns. This month, she is working in our Keya (Turtle) Cafe as a social enterprises intern; her responsibilities include cleaning and maintaining the cafe’s commercial kitchen, hand-crafting the cafe’s signature coffee drinks, and providing customer service.

“It’s a lot of the same chores you do at home, but I enjoy helping people, so I don’t really think of it as a job,” Salicia says. “I thought it was time to get off the sofa and do something… to stop being so dependent on my parents.”

So far, Salicia says her favorite parts of the job involve making coffee and the signature drinks, helping with the cooking, and serving customers. She also enjoys the opportunity to work with the CRYP team in the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center.

“This is my first job, and I love it,” she says enthusiastically. “Everyone is so nice.”

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July Hall of Fame: Lisa Littleton

When the Cheyenne River Youth Project first launched its innovative teen internship programs in 2014, its primary goal was to give Cheyenne River’s young people new opportunities to learn job and life skills that would serve them well into adulthood. That goal is now being realized, as some of their more experienced interns are entering the workforce with talent, ability and enthusiasm.

Lisa Littleton, 18, started attending CRYP’s programs in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, when she was a young child. Three years ago, she decided to tackle the first-ever Sustainable Agriculture internship. She served as a intern for three years, becoming intimately familiar with the youth project’s 2-acre Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) garden.

Then she heard CRYP needed a staff gardener for summer 2016. Lisa says it was an easy decision to apply for the job.

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June Hall of Fame: Kellyn Circle Eagle

Through the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s teen internship programs, we’re able to engage young people with a variety of interests. Some teens want to work in our organic Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) garden. Others wish to learn to make gourmet coffees and prepare handcrafted entrees with farm-to-table ingredients in our Keya (Turtle) Cafe, or sell CRYP’s wares through our Keya Gift Shop and seasonal Leading Lady Farmers Market. Still others can’t wait to develop their skills in the arts, or become wellness mentors for their peers.

Then there are the teens who feel drawn to all of it. Kellyn Circle Eagle, 16, is one of those bright lights. Not only has Kellyn completed internships in art, wellness and social enterprise, she’s now a regular summer employee in the Keya Cafe.

The soon-to-be high school junior first started attending CRYP programs as an eighth-grader. She says she was excited to go to the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center due to the many opportunities it offered, from regular youth programming to the impressive menu of available internships for willing teens.

“I enjoyed Midnight Basketball and open gym,” she reflects. “They kept me occupied and doing positive things. The wellness internship kept me exercising and healthy; it was really fun. I also completed the art internship, because I always like art and want to continue learning. And the Keya Cafe—it seemed fun and interesting. I loved it!”

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