This is my second time saying good bye to the National Park Service. The last eleven weeks have moved so quickly, a mad dash to learn how to build a map and get some writing done. As someone with limited mapping skills, learning to use a handful of new software programs was an uphill battle (one that Illustrator often won). As I leave, I’m lucky enough to come out with a whole new skill set. The Park Service is incredible in that it’s not just a working experience but it’s a learning and exploring experience. Over the summer I got to map, do field work, write, research, take architectural pictures, learn geology, engage with communities and so much more. I always acquire waaaayyy more skills than I had anticipated when working for the Park Service. The thing about working here is that everyone is so excited to share what they know. Whether that’s revolutionary war facts or how to use a chainsaw. Everything I do at the Park Service is done to the backdrop of enthusiasm.

I didn’t become a “go-getter” until I was in college. I was an athlete on the crew team and I had this (now very obvious) realization that I would never be able to go home after practice until all of the equipment was put away. From then on, I’ve dedicated myself to being the first person to get down to business and it’s been the most rewarding change in my life. The place I truly see this is in the Park Service, my delight in learning new skills is instantly rewarded as other equally eager individuals are ready to impart their wisdom upon me.

Over the last few months, I’ve learned to map, as promised. But I’ve also measured, photographed and explored modern and historic houses. I’ve taken pictures of so many different things and learned the names of so many different kinds of plants and trees, it makes my head spin. I’ve removed invasive species, helped build a trail, put together a goat shelter, taken down that same goat shelter, herded aforementioned goats and I have learned so much. I’ve learned history and politics and all about the internal workings of the Park Service. I’ve learned about laws and preservation and stewardship. I’m leaving this internship with so much more knowledge than when I began and I’m ready to apply that knowledge anywhere I can.

I’ve had an amazing summer and I’m so grateful for everything the Park Service has done for me. The people at the Olmsted Center were wonderful mentors and delightfully knowledgeable about so many things. My fellow interns were spectacular and Boston was a nice, breezy alternative to the muggy Florida heat.

As for me, I’m headed back to the Swamp to finish up my graduate degree and continue my adventures.

Goodbye for now NPS.

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