The Cheyenne River Youth Project® has announced that it will be accepting applications for its summer teen internship programs through Friday, May 27. Internship opportunities include wellness, social enterprise and sustainable agriculture; CRYP is offering three 80-hour internships during the summer season, with each session running approximately two to three weeks.

During their internships, participating teens will participate in classes and trainings, they’ll be involved in event planning and youth mentorship, and they’ll gain valuable job and life skills that will serve them well beyond high school. Those who complete their 80 hours each will earn a stipend of $500.

These aren’t simply summer jobs, however. According to Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, CRYP’s internship programs are carefully designed for Lakota youth.

“We’ve always believed that our Lakota culture is a critical component of our holistic wellness,” she explained. “To foster healing—and wholeness—among our young people, we need to strengthen the connection our kids have to traditional Lakota values. Our ancient wisdom provides the foundation they need to access the vibrant, more secure future they deserve.”

The wellness interns will focus on how to nurture healthy minds and bodies through physical fitness, nutrition, diabetes prevention and healthy lifestyle choices. As they learn about native wellness, healthy communication and relationships, healthy sexuality and historical trauma, they’ll become active youth mentors for the 4- to 12-year-olds at The Main youth center and peer mentors at the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center. They’ll also lead physical activities and plan community events such as Color and Zombie runs, fitness challenges and cooking classes.

The social enterprise interns will gain valuable business experience while working in the farm-to-table Keya (Turtle) Cafe and Coffeeshop, the Keya Gift Shop and the Leading Lady Farmers Market, while the sustainable agriculture interns will learn to manage the organically grown, 2-acre Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) garden. Both sets of teens will learn to process and preserve the nutritious produce, which will be incorporated into meals and snacks at the two centers; select items also will be sold in the Keya Gift Shop.

Khalid Garreau, 16, took part in the sustainable agriculture internship three years ago. Last year, he gave the Keya Cafe a try; he enjoyed it so much, he became a summer employee (pictured above).

“I like coffee making and the different types of coffees, and I really want to work at Starbucks,” he said. “The internship seemed like a good way to prepare for a job as a barista, and the cafe is a great place to be if you like being around people. I do. It was challenging because it could be so busy, with so many customers. That was hard, just not knowing what to do sometimes. But it was a really great experience.”

All the interns will earn their customer service, CPR, financial literacy and food handlers’ certifications while engaged in their respective programs, they’ll learn how their traditional Lakota values contribute to and enhance their work, and they’ll develop leadership skills that will make them powerful role models among Cheyenne River’s young people.

“When we opened the doors to Cokata Wiconi 10 years ago, our intention was to go beyond providing a safe place for our teens to socialize, enjoy meals and snacks, do homework, watch movies and play sports,” Garreau said. “Those are all important aspects to our mission, but we also created our center to be a working classroom for learning valuable job and life skills. That vision became a reality with our internship programs. And the kids are as excited about that as we are.”

CRYP’s teen internship programs in social enterprise, sustainable agriculture and wellness are made possible through support from Running Strong for American Indian Youth, First Nations Development Institute’s Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI), J.R. Albert Foundation, John T. Vucurevich Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation and Tribal Ventures. Going forward, Garreau said the youth project hopes to work with its partners to continue expanding the programs to reach even more Cheyenne River teens each year.

To stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.