In an historic move, the University of the Virgin Islands and the National Park Service will enhance their existing relationship with a memorandum of understanding for a Volunteer for Credit program signed Tuesday in a ceremony at the park’s Christiansted office.
“It’s formalizing the relationship” that already exists between the two bodies, Joel Tutein, superintendent of the three St. Croix facilities, said Wednesday.
Tutein is superintendent at Christiansted National Historic Site, Buck Island Reef National Monument and Salt River National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve on St. Croix. There are also two parks on St. John – V.I. National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument.
He said the goal is to enhance the potential for Virgin Islanders to learn and help promote the rich cultural heritage and unique natural resources of the Virgin Islands.
The Volunteer for Credit program will allow students to receive hands on training in cultural heritage and resources, including programming associated with the National Park Service Centennial in 2016 and the Transfer Day Centennial in 2017.
Tutein said that while the park facilities and the university have cooperated on a variety of projects, the memorandum of understanding will give both undergraduate and graduate students academic credit for volunteer work at the park. Tutein said, for example, biology majors would receive credit for work they do in the park’s natural resources field.
Chenzira Davis Kahina, director of UVI’s Virgin Islands Caribbean Cultural Center, in a press release: “Through this historic memorandum of understanding, we hope that we can further these goals and offer sustainable experiences for enrichment throughout the territory.”
Additionally Tutein said the cooperation between the university and the park will increase exposure to the park by the students.
According to the memorandum of understanding, the university and the Park Service agree to share costs for the program.
In addition to the Volunteer for Credit program, the memorandum of understanding calls for generation of collaborative research projects, sharing of cultural and natural resource information, providing professional development opportunities, developing a formal educational lecture series, developing program that enhances existing academic programs, and holding joint events.
Tutein and UVI President David Hall signed the memorandum of understanding Tuesday at the park office.
The program will work through the Caribbean Cultural Center and the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.