“I was looking for some high school interns to help at the office with filing and that kind of thing,” King said, explaining that he doesn’t have staff to help him out at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Archaeology Office in Moab.
“I lived in the neighborhood,” he said. “I’d always walk by.”
Because of the close proximity, King decided the MVMC was a good place to start looking for an intern – and that search was successful. But since that time, King has taken on a mentoring role at the center, volunteer work that has also been personally rewarding.
“Last year I helped out with an afterschool program there,” King said. He also mentored several middle school students. This year, King is mentoring one high school student, who is also serving as an intern at his office.
While King has volunteered his time in a variety of ways in the past, he said that his time with the Multicultural Center is something new for him.
“I’ve never done something that took this much time and personal commitment,” he said. “I feel like once I get to know these kids, I owe it to them. I can’t just fade in and out.”
He said that his intern hopes to work in an office some day, so King is trying to help him learn what that entails.
“I’m teaching him different computer applications, and how to function in the office environment,” King said. “The youth program in the BLM right now, there’s a real emphasis to get students in and get them experienced within the agency. I just started doing that stuff ... because I had that conduit to provide these opportunities.”
King said his own young children were also a main reason he decided to take on the role as a mentor and pursue internship possibilities within the BLM. King said that when he first stopped by the Multicultural Center, none of the local BLM offices offered any sort of internship programs.
“If I want my kids to have opportunities like that when they’re in high school, I have to be proactive in getting these things off the ground,” he said. “I can’t just expect that stuff to be available when my kids get older ... You’ve got to be a part of the solution.”
King said he probably wouldn’t have taken on the responsibilities of mentoring and the internship program before he had kids of his own.
“It wouldn’t have really occurred to me,” he said.
He explained that having his own kids has led him to view life differently.
“It wasn’t that I wouldn’t have done that for other people,” he said. “It was just that spark wouldn’t have happened.”
All the recent attention he’s been getting for his efforts has been a overwhelming, King said. He was recently named the Canyon Country recipient of the BLM’s Youth Program Superstar Award Winners. The awards were given to “outstanding youth mentors who are committed to educating and enhancing the hearts, minds, and lives of Utah’s future site stewards,” according to BLM officials.
“I’ve kind of de facto become the youth coordinator at the office,” he said. “It’s just been kind of strange because I like to be the below the surface type.”