You Can Do That at NPS?! – Ramona Malczynski

As my supervisor told me about all the projects going on at the National Trails Office, I kept saying, “I didn’t know the National Park Service did work like that! That is so cool!” The diversity of skills, positions and projects in our office is impressive and my first week here has challenged my preconceptions of what it is like to work for the National Park Service. In our office alone we have experts in history, cultural resource preservation, interpretation and education, geographic information science, and design and development.

I am working with the history team this summer which might make you think that I will be doing a lot of historic research on national historic trails. However, the work of the history team is diverse in itself! This summer I will be managing and updating our database of certified site partners along the trails we administer and reaching out to partners about how we can support them and promote their sites on our websites and social media.

My first site visit to meet with partners for the Santa Fe Trail will be next week to Ribera, New Mexico, about 1.5 hours northeast of Albuquerque. I already had a great meeting with two leaders of the Old Spanish Trail Association via Zoom and learned about the Association’s relationship with our office. I am excited to keep working with partners and seeing more of my home state while doing so. My first step is to make sure I do not confuse all the national historic trail names and the names of the associations that help manage them!

This is a photograph of the Mission Church at Pecos National Historical Park, not far from where I will go for my first site visit. The Park lies along the route of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

This is a photograph of the ruins of a church of an 18th century Spanish colony that once sat in what was known as the Plaza de Santa Rosa de Lima.
It was built around 1744, but was abandoned after Natives peoples drove Spanish colonizers to move their settlement one mile west.
This site is near Abiquiu, NM where I will be going for a site visit in late June for the Old Spanish National Historic Trail.

Not only has the first few weeks working as an LHIP intern shown me the myriad career paths in the NPS, but I realized that the NPS has a culture of learning and education within the organization. As an intern I have the opportunity to do online training in geographic information science provided to NPS employees with the encouragement of my supervisor, Dr. Angelica Sanchez-Clark and one of our GIS specialists, Brian Deaton. There are also numerous informative webinars I can attend that will help me learn more about work across the NPS and how to apply my skills to that work. For example, I was able to attend a webinar on how the historically significant Old Santa Fe Trail Building, one of the National Trails Office’s buildings, was carefully restored. Plus, my supervisor sent me a webinar on how to use interactive maps to get people to engage with trails, a topic that is relevant to my internship and my current graduate studies.

This Saturday I have another chance to learn about the kind of work members of our office do. I will observe a public virtual meeting for the feasibility study for a proposed historic trail. I am very interested in community engagement with conservation and environmental policy, that is why I applied for this LHIP position, so I am looking forward to this event. I am eager to keep learning about the opportunities within the NPS, how the NPS relates to local communities and all of the work and decisions that go into environmental and historic conservation.  

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