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.”
Genevieve admitted that the internships also had their challenges, particularly the art internship.
“The spray-painting classes were challenging, being able to pick an idea and express how I’m feeling,” she explains. “And the colors, learning how to make ‘em cool!”
This energetic high school student is an active powwow dancer, and she has big plans for her future. She says she’s definitely going to graduate from high school and become one of the first people in her family to go to college. And, she wants to be a pediatrician.
“Then I can come back and help my community,” she says. “I’m part of the seventh generation.”
She does hope to experience living in Washington State at some point, noting that she loves the rain, forests and mountains. She does, however, love and appreciate her Cheyenne River home.
“I like that we’re an actual community,” she says. “We all know each other, it’s familiar, it’s home. It’s comfortable living here.
“And we do so many things for young people here, even if it might not seem like it at first,” she adds. “Just look at CRYP. It helps youth come together, keeps them busy and out of trouble, and teaches them the skills they need for their future.”