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!”
Thanks to her experiences as a cafe intern, Kellyn was ready to tackle her new summer job. She is working as a barista and cook, and she waits tables.
“I also make the coffee,” she adds. “The internship made me love doing it—knowing the different types, how to do the milk, measuring, creating different drinks.”
When asked why she wanted to work for the youth project, Kellyn has a simple answer: all the good people.
“I basically count everyone here as my relative,” she explains. “They give me so much good energy.
“I am so grateful we have this place to spend our time, doing positive and healthy things,” she continues. “I was blessed because I got to meet one of my best friends at CRYP, Maria (Padilla-Gant), who’s more like a sister. She was a volunteer. I met her at open gym, and I still talk to her every day. I’m so happy we have this organization in our community. It exposes us to other people and cultures through the volunteer program. CRYP has so many great things!”
Kellyn says she still loves playing basketball, and she enjoys spending time with her best friends. She also loves school, especially her English, math and science classes.
“I plan to go to Haskell Indian Nation University (in Lawrence, Kansas) or United Tribes Technical College (in Bismarck, North Dakota),” she says. “I want to pursue a career in nursing and hopefully go further. I have plans to travel to Paris and travel the world with my best friend, Hunter. I have high hopes for my future and am very excited.”