My name is Austin Green Weinstein and I am a junior photography major and filmmaking concentrator at the Maryland Institute College of Art. During the summer of 2015, I was a staff photographer for the Maryland Conservation Job Corps, a summer conservation youth program that works side by side with the Maryland Parks Service to help maintain Maryland state parks. For the majority of my life, I have spent all of my free time fishing, hiking, and photographing in our state parks—and I have always considered working to maintain these parks as a ranger, or to document them for the government as a photographer. My outdoor skills combined with my work as an environmentally concerned photographer made me a strong candidate for the job as a staff photographer for the 2015 CJC program. Alumni Scott Bradley agreed and recommended me as the guy for the job—and I enthusiastically signed my contract to take the job.
I worked alongside Scott Bradley to photographically document the program and present our choice edits, as a thematic narrative, in a concluding photo-video montage. We were guided by our program supervisors Fred Banks (head of program) and Cindy Hawkins (program manager)—and worked with fellow crew members, park coaches, and most importantly, the youth crew members, to ensure that we documented every aspect of the program as to benefit our photographic narrative of the 2015 program. In the MD CJC program, kids from local communities are hired into corps to help maintain our local state parks. These children are taught job skills, professionalism, important principles of success; as well as conservation, shop skills, trail maintenance, principles of sustainability and ‘leave no trace’ practices. They work very hard, alongside crew chiefs and Maryland Conservation Corps employees, on park specific projects and objectives— many of which give these kids an opportunity to be a part of something significant, “that people will all be able to see and appreciate for a very long time.”
This internship experience involved a large amount of travel, working from one state park to another, and stretched my photographic coverage of the state from the far western parks to the beach on Assateague Island. I am proud to have worked in a program that makes such a huge difference in our communities, changing the lives of kids and conserving our natural resources throughout our whole state, boarder to boarder. I believe that this program changes the kids’ lives, and shows them that they have the power to make a difference in their communities, their state, and in the world. I am excited for the opportunity to apply for this position in the 2016 program—and to continue working for the state parks and other conservation organizations for the rest of my career as a professional photographer and videographer.