Samantha Ayala – A More Than Halfway Check In!

Hi! I hope everyone is having an amazing summer thus far. I’d like to preface again by saying I hope everyone is taking care of themselves both physically and mentally, and if anyone needs a support system of sorts, all your fellow interns are here! While I haven’t yet had the privilege of meeting everyone involved with LHIP, I’m so thankful to have gotten the chance to go through my internship with the support of my fellow interns.

I cannot believe that for most of us, our time at our sites is nearing an end! It feels like just yesterday that I found out I was given this amazing opportunity- I truly can’t believe how quickly time has passed! I can already tell how much I’ve learned, from things about the National Park Service as an organization I never would’ve even guessed, to seeing how much planning goes into park programming, as well as the beauty captured in a National Park. Prior to my internship, I had never been to a National Park at all, even Fire Island, despite it’s proximity to me. One thing I think that is absolutely necessary to ensure engagement of people from all backgrounds is to continue having programs like LHIP and Mosaics in Science, among many others, to provide a chance to traditionally underserved and underrepresented community members. In all honesty, I didn’t fully comprehend how many parks comprise the NPS, and how no one site looks the same- they all have their own things to offer, whether that’s recreation, a place of solace, and/or historical enrichment. Sites have something for everyone, and they deserve to be enjoyed by all.

A paint workshop on the dunes at the Wilderness Visitor Center with Artist David Adams

One thing that has really come to life to me as something so clear and true during this internship is that natural, outdoor spaces truly provide such a solace to people. I’ve found that being outside, especially after being inside for so long following the COVID-19 pandemic, has been such a powerful force in my life. I’m not sure how to explain it other than saying that when I’m at the park, which for me is Fire Island National Seashore, it feels like I have sunshine on me and inside every part of me, even when it’s not sunny outside. This has made the experience so much more special to me, and something I’m going to cherish forever.

I know I’m going to relish every minute I have left at Fire Island, and I plan on continuing to visit even after my internship is over! I hope all of you feel the same sunshine I do when you’re at your sites.

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