Denkyem River Guardians Internship
Building a relationship with the Tidal Schuylkill River
How does the watershed impact us? How do we impact the watershed? The Denkyem River Guardians internship program helps high school youth develop an understanding of their own relationship to water.
Denkyem (pronounced “den-tchyem”) is the Adinkra symbol for crocodile, which represents adaptability and flexibility because the crocodile lives in water but breathes air. Adinkra symbols were developed by the Bono people of West Africa and spread throughout the continent, and crocodiles are valued in a range of African mythology for their intelligence and resilience.
The internship program includes intensive outdoor work, especially in summer and fall, along with a year-round curriculum rooted in watershed ecosystems. Denkyem River Guardians annually employs up to 15 paid high school interns from Southwest and South Philadelphia.
Who Is Eligible
- Interested in working outdoors and with boats on the water?
- Eager to learn more about yourself and your environment?
- Committed to engaging community members and local students with the river?
- Looking to sharpen your personal and professional skills?
Applications for this competitive program are accepted seasonally. In order to be eligible to apply, you must:
- Live, attend school, or have other personal connections in Southwest Philadelphia or South Philadelphia, especially in the neighborhoods of Kingsessing, Eastwick, Elmwood Park, Cobbs Creek, Grays Ferry, West Passyunk, Girard Estates, or Point Breeze; and
- Be age 15 to 18 at the time of participation. Students must be at least rising 10th graders at the time of participation (entering 10th grade by the fall); students may work the summer after graduating high school.
There is no academic requirement to apply; however, participating interns are supported to maintain at least a C average in all their classes.
- Become an expert at rowing.
- Learn the history and ecology of the Tidal Schuylkill River and its surrounding community.
- Learn how to clean and maintain a fleet of wooden rowboats.
- Collect water samples and monitor the health of the river.
- Connect with high school students across the city working on-water.
- Visit and boat on other bodies of water in Philadelphia, PA, and Camden, NJ.
- Assist families and community members during free fishing and boating activities.
- Participate in an art exhibit highlighting summer research findings and experience.