Getting the real NPS experience

Before the Fourth of July celebrations I attended several events, with and without a camera. As I mentioned before, I created a short video to coincide with the Hartzog award ceremony, which I got to attend and meet all the subjects of my video. The recipient that stood out the most to me was Thelma Johnson, an 80-year young volunteer cook at Ice Age National Scenic Trail. She wakes up at 4:30am to prepare coffee and breakfast for large groups, continuing on to making sandwiches for lunch and later peeling dozens of pounds of potatoes for dinner.

Selfie with Thelma

Selfie with Thelma

But perhaps what stood out to me is what she does outside the kitchen tent, thousands of miles from Wisconsin. For several years now she has spent her time and money to helping women in the Philippines provide for their children and community by teaching them how to sew. With the money she earns preparing taxes (while filing for three non-profits free of charge), she buys fabric, the sewing machines, and her plane ticket for the benefit of families in need. Meeting her, after learning her story, was very influential in how I approach the stories I’m tasked to film. Similar to my experience with managing NPS’ social media sites, this internship brought me closer than I had expected to the people on the ground who impact, and are impacted, by the work NPS does and its sites.   For the past few weeks I have also witnessed how things are run from within NPS, its leaders and employees. I’ve had the chance to meet Director Jarvis several times as his office is in my building, allowing me to get a sense of him ‘behind the scenes,’ and I could not be happier with his leadership. I was also invited to a special film screening of “An American Ascent” (2014) hosted by the White House, where I got to meet Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell. I took advantage of my meeting with Secretary Jewell to introduce myself and the LHIP program, explaining the kind of work we are doing this summer and our desire to continue this kind of project in the future.
Selfie with Secretary Jewell

Selfie with Secretary Jewell

She was very receptive and supportive of the idea; thanking us for the work we are doing and went on introducing herself to dozens of other local students that were waiting for the film to begin. This was also a hectic week for the NPS Office of Communications because we received a lot of calls after NPS decided to pull Confederate flag items from sale at its sites. This was quickly contrasted to all the good feedback I got from an article I wrote for the information gateway for NPS employees on LHIP, the work I’m doing and our interview with Director Jarvis.

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