In 2021, when South Dakota teenager August King moved from her longtime Rapid City home to the city of Eagle Butte on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, she decided that this would be a welcome opportunity to refresh and reset her life. A major part of that reset, she says, was the Cheyenne River Youth Project.

“I started coming to CRYP around March of last year,” August recalls. “I saw it as a chance to make new friends, meet new people, and make memories.”

She quickly realized that the nonprofit organization’s teen internship program would be a great fit for her. She jumped right in, and in less than 18 months, she has completed internships in Art, Indigenous Foods & Cooking, Native Wellness, and Native Food Sovereignty.

“I’ve done most of the internships that CRYP provides,” August says. “The things that drew me in were how much fun it was, how much I could learn, and how I could work at my own pace without being stressed.

“I enjoyed the different lessons every day,” she continued. “We wouldn’t just do one thing repeatedly; we always would switch it up, and that’s what made the internships so much fun.” 

August also noted that the internship program provides valuable opportunities to learn specific job and life skills that might come in handy down the road. For example, she participated in CPR training and earned her Food Handler certification.

“CRYP is special, because it does so much to help in many ways,” she reflected. “It is one of the most helpful programs in our community.”

When August isn’t busy with her internships, she is a dedicated student with big dreams for her future.

“I try to focus on school, because eventually I want to apply for scholarships and go to college,” she says. “I want to study to be a surgeon or neurosurgeon.”

August plans to work part-time during high school so she can save money, and in the free time she has left, she enjoys painting and volunteering.

“I like volunteering, because I get to help others and show people how much good I can do,” she says. “People might be surprised to learn how much we support each other here on Cheyenne River. It’s the amount of care for our people that matters most for me.”