A Place to Hang My Hat

Park HQ roof detail

Park HQ roof detail

Great news—I finally have somewhere to hang my hat! With so many Interns and seasonals working here at park headquarters, I’ve been sharing desk space and this can be difficult when I need to be focused. Headquarters is a buzz with fresh faces from all over the region. There are interns from the Student Conservation Association (SCA), the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Internship Program (HBCUI), the American Conservation Experience (ACE), the Southeast Conservation Corps (SECC), the Mosaics in Science Internship Program and I’m of course representing the Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP). That’s a lot of interns! (At least those are the one I know about.) We’re all working in different parts of   the park and in various fields and as you may have guessed this makes the workspace real estate a premium. The upside of course is having the opportunity to meet people from all over the country and seeing how so many young people are drawn to working at the park and the great opportunities that the park provides for them. Scoring a new work space could not have come at a better time as I have started working on digitizing the old plans of the Park Headquarters Building. My new desk is on the second floor and it’s set up quite nicely for working in CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) which is the software I’ll be using to making renderings of the park headquarters building. I’m also really appreciative of the workspace upgrade because it’s situated in quiet part of the building where I can concentrate on writing and research and as an added bonus I’m close to nice folks down the hall who are readily available to answer questions.
CAD station

CAD station

This week I finished my last required training which focused on defensive driving and tied in well with the Operational Leadership Training course I completed the previous week. I won’t bore you with the details but the point of these trainings is to create a safer work culture in the park service and empowering all employees to take the necessary steps when identifying safety concerns. This is crucial because although it’s not something the park service is proud of, it doesn’t have the best safety record and is really trying hard to improve in this area to make employees and guest feel safe at parks.
rabbit at park HQ

rabbit at park HQ

Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls

This week I also got a chance to see more of the park and go on some great hikes on the park’s trails. It was a shorter week for me as far as official work goes but that doesn’t mean that I actually stopped doing park things! I have been mirroring my schedule to match my site supervisors and this means that I have been working a 4/5/9 schedule. One of my best friends, who I met long ago in Oakland California but is actually from Tennessee and has since move back, came to visit me in the park and we went on several hikes. Hiking is really the best way to get to know a place and get a feel for what the visitor experience at this park is really like. We hiked on the Appalachian trail up to Charlies Bunion which is a large stone outcropping that provides spectacular views and the next day we hiked to Abrams falls in the cades Cove area of the park. After two days of hikes we went to the Greenbrier district and chilled by the stream listing to the relaxing sound of water and the birds chirping. It was a great cool down after an exciting week.   All of these beautiful hikes and the work that I’m doing through my internship have led me to conclude that park life is the life for me! To be frank, I’ve basically had to surrender to park life given that there is very little cell phone coverage and I have no internet in my park housing! I do have a car and it enables me to drive to town but it’s kind of a tourist trap, so I must make peace with the fact that I’m living in what you could call a national park island. Yes this will be the summer that I live and breathe the Smokies 24/7! Luckily I am living in one of the most beautiful places around so it’s no contest when deciding what to do. Going for a good long day hike is the go to activity and I do it with pleasure.
View from Charlies Bunion

View from Charlies Bunion

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