Hello All! My name is Aimee Weber, and I have already done and learned far more than I expected during my first two weeks as a Designing the Parks intern at the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation. We have been warmly welcomed, and have already begun to explore the NPS resources in the Northeast Region, including Boston National Historical Park, Boston Harbor Islands, Lowell National Historical Park, and Acadia National Park. I am excited to be here for seven months working with NPS employees at Frederick Law Olmsted, Longfellow House Washington’s Headquarters, and John Muir National Historic Sites to implement IrisBG plant records management software.
My path to the Olmsted Center was not one I would have imagined when I first began my college education, and yet somehow all of my meandering over the years has led me to work on a project here that I am thrilled to be a part of. I earned a bachelor’s degree and started a master’s degree in architecture some years ago, and though I moved away from a career practicing architecture, I have continued to be interested in the intersection of people and place: how people respond to and use space around them, how people have constructed and altered their surrounding environments, and how constructed places are entangled with the ecosystems that they inhabit. I developed a love for gardening and a drive to learn more about farming and its prehistoric origins, eventually writing my senior thesis on the changes in architecture as farming first developed in Southwest Asia (about 10,000 years ago) for a second bachelor’s degree in anthropology. I chose to minor in GIS so that I could learn a practical skill to support archaeological research (and because I love maps), and quickly realized the amazing potential of well-designed databases for exploring large-scale or complex research questions.
My project at the Olmsted Center setting up plant records management systems is exciting because it will be beneficial across the multiple disciplines (cultural resources, natural resources, maintenance, and interpretation) working to preserve historic landscapes and share their stories with the public. The project is a pilot study (resulting from the work of Ella Weber and Chris Beagan last year) to implement an integrated system of digital record-keeping and interpretation currently used by many public gardens and arboreta. The IrisBG plant records management software has great potential as a tool to integrate the needs of our diverse group of landscape stewards, to preserve knowledge, and to facilitate data analysis and research.
I had the pleasure of working at the NPS Western Archeological and Conservation Center while I studied for my anthropology degree at the University of Arizona, and am excited to use what I learned there about museum collections management, and what I learned at school about GIS, to help set up plant records management systems that work well for everyone. I am looking forward to getting to know the intricacies of the work of preserving historic landscapes, and I hope to learn more about botany along the way.
It is a privilege to work at these amazing sites and lead this pilot project, and I’m ready to dive in to the work! I will leave you now with photos of some of the beautiful places we enjoyed on our trip to Acadia National Park: