I am wrapping up my internship with the Olmsted Center and the Designing The Parks team this week. The past ten weeks have flown by, and been a truly influential and dynamic learning experience for me!
Last week, we traveled to Minute Man National Park to learn more about the park, its history, and to contribute ideas to scoping the UMass Cultural Landscape Studio that is to be led this fall by Ethan Carr. Ethan Carr is a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. We were also joined by Stacey Meier, who is a teacher at Mather High School in New York City. Mather High School is a Career and Technical school that prepares students for a career or college degree through a hands-on approach to learning. The curriculum involves skills training in building and landscape management with an emphasis on craftsmanship, building arts, and historic preservation.
Stacey also visited the Olmsted Center office this week in Boston to learn more about landscape preservation and management. She hopes to gain a better understanding of these subjects in order to create lesson plans for her students at Mather High School.
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to participate in a NPS Urban Agenda panel session at the National Park Service Regional Directors Meeting. I was honored to represent the Desigining the Parks team, and participate in a discussion concerning the Urban Agenda. Michael Creasey, General Superintendent of the National Parks of Boston, began the meeting with an introduction of everyone in attendance, followed by a brief history of how the Urban Agenda was developed. I appreciated learning more about the history of how the Urban Agenda was organized.
There were also a few familiar faces in the room that I had met at the Olmsted Center or through brown bag lunches. Ruth Raphael is the Urban Fellow for the National Parks of Boston, and previously worked as a planner with the National Park Service at Boston National Historical Park. I had met Ruth Raphael on a brief visit she made to the Olmsted Center office earlier in my internship. While Michael spoke to the Urban Agenda in its totality, Ruth focused on its influence in the city of Boston itself. I was able to relate more personally to the Urban Agenda by the examples that Ruth presented on how it has and will affect Boston.
Another familiar face was Ashleyann Perez-Rivera who is an intern working with Ruth this summer at Charlestown Navy Yard. I have met Ashleyann previously on several brown bag lunches, which have been a great way to network with fellow interns in the National Park Service. During our panel discussion, Ashleyann spoke to her internship experiences, and how her experience has changed her initial perception of the National Park Service. By engaging more personally with NPS staff, she has developed an appreciation for the interaction between the National Parks of Boston (Boston National Historical Park, Boston African American National Historic Site, and Boston Harbor Islands Recreation Area).
Similar to Ashleyann, I had an initial perception of the National Park Service that has changed over my time here. I associated the National Park Service more closely with national parks on the west coast like Yellowstone or Yosemite. Throughout my internship, I was introduced to many historic sites and national parks within New England that I had never visited. It was then that I began to really understand the scope and reach of the National Park Service. During my panel discussion, I spoke about takeaways that I experienced through my time at the Olmsted Center. My greatest takeaway was the balance between the learning of technical landscape design skills and hands on site visits and engagement with National Park Service staff. I not only improved on my AutoCad, GIS, and Adobe software skills, but I also gained an immense understanding for the importance of historic preservation as it relates to design.
Thank you to the Olmsted Center and the American Conservation Experience – Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program for providing me with this amazing opportunity. It has been a truly unforgettable experience!