Wilton student pitches in at Yellowstone National Park
Incoming Wilton High School senior Emma Stewart was selected from a pool of about 500 applicants throughout the country for this summer's Youth Conservation Corps program at Yellowstone National Park.
Emma was one of 22 participants in the month-long session, and was the only member from Connecticut.
Four years ago, Emma was on a family trip in Wyoming, during which she visited the national park with her family and "just loved being there," especially the beautiful views and herds of wild bison.
Yellowstone is the country's first national park, established in 1872, and is home to Old Faithful, among other spectacular geysers.
The program was a 40-hour-per-week paid job comprised mostly of construction work; a different task was assigned to each week.
Emma helped build fences, clear hiking trails, and repair boardwalks. In the process, she grew close to her fellow participants in her team of six.
The work was assisted by park rangers, and afforded Emma the opportunity to see places that tourists would not be allowed to see, including a nine-mile hike that led to the top of a ridge to Shelf Lake, a small lake in the park's northwestern corner at the foot of the 11,239-foot Sheep Mountain.
Emma said she misses Yellowstone already and keeps in touch with teammates on Facebook.