It’s been strange but just as busy to be back in the office full time this week without any site visits. After all our information gathering in California followed by three days of site visits around the greater Boston area, it’s been exciting to revisit the databases we’ve been testing with new questions and ideas. This week I’ve mostly focused on IrisBG and had a chance to sit in on a group webinar hosted by one of the developers, as well as talk to Julie and Sarah at the Smithsonian Gardens who have been using it for about a year now and were very knowledgeable – thank you for sharing! Everyone on the webinar was on different levels of exploring or using IrisBG which was extremely helpful in terms of our project. Not only did I get an excellent crash course on some functionalities that are a bit less intuitive, I got to listen to a lot of feedback about user experiences with IrisBG and other systems institutions had used in the past. Real user feedback is crucial to our project because we want to ensure any system a park may choose is more of a help than a hindrance.
This week, we also had our final brown bag lunch with Shaun Eyring, Chief of Cultural Resources for the Northeast Region, and Frank Hays, Associate Regional Director of the Resources Stewardship and Science Directorate for the Northeast Region. Learning about everyone’s path to the National Park Service has been interesting and encouraging, but my favorite part of the brown bags has been the facilitation of open discussion. Everyone we’ve spoken with has made an effort to address questions and concerns, and in turn asked for input on subjects they’ve identified for improvement. With Shaun and Frank, we talked constructively about attracting and retaining young professionals in the park service, especially from underrepresented communities. As we are respectively reaching the end or mid-point of our internships, it’s encouraging to know the park service is invested in thinking critically about fostering opportunities in a positive work environment.