As luck would have it, my first chapter at OCLP is ending in a flurry of holiday festivities, so I wanted to pause before all the (continued) fun to thank everyone at OCLP, the amazing core project team members, all the allied professionals at public gardens and arboreta who shared their invaluable experiences with us, and the Student Conservation Association. The last six months have been a whirlwind and I am truly grateful to have been part of such an exciting project, made that much better by the wonderful people I had the privilege to work alongside. I owe the biggest thank you to Chris Beagan, with whom I’ve been working closely on the plant records management database evaluation project. Your insight, trust, enthusiasm, and good humor have been the backbone of our project and my experience here at OCLP.
The majority of my effort over the last six months was focused on the plant records management database evaluation project (now formally “Modernizing National Park Service Plant Records Management”), and I’m excited to say we were able to share our findings with NPS employees and colleagues at public gardens and arboreta around the country yesterday during a webinar presentation. Keep an eye out for our white paper which should be available soon! The best part of working on this project was the opportunity to visit parks across the country and and learn about their unique challenges and missions from the dedicated staff who comprised the core project team (thank you, Keith, Ralph, Fernando, Brooke, John, Mona, and Scott). Combined with the insights from the OCLP team, I feel like I’ve learned more about the National Park Service in the past six months than the previous 24 years of my life! Most importantly, working on this project deepened my commitment to applying my skills and knowledge to conservation research efforts, and broadened my understanding of how I can apply myself to the challenges facing our climate and public lands in the upcoming years.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the many opportunities to get involved in activities outside the scope of our specific projects that the OCLP team offered my fellow interns and me. It truly made me feel welcome, engaged, and valued every step of the way. I had a blast surveying vegetation for the Cape Cod Modern Houses project (and adventuring in Margie’s van), brainstorming a workshop at Minute Man National Historic Site, learning about managing agriculture at Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, touring Longfellow and Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Sites with knowledgeable rangers, learning specialized GIS and AutoCAD skills from Tim, and attending brown bag lunches that exposed us to the diversity of roles within the NPS. After such a meaningful experience over the past six months, I couldn’t be more excited to return to OCLP in January to begin working with the Saugus Ironworks team – see you in the New Year and thank you all!