Even though the presentations, workshops, and activities at the Northeast Regional Office’s new Superintendents and new Program Managers training ended early, attendees stayed late because they were eager to learn about the staff of the Northeast Regional Office and each other. Though most activities and presentations at this training were traditional in nature, Regional Training Officer Melissa Sims began the training in a nontraditional fashion, by designing a scavenger hunt that took attendees throughout the offices of the Northeast Region, which are scattered over three floors of Philadelphia’s Custom House. “I decided on the scavenger hunt as an ice breaker because I wanted the participants to get to know each other better and get to know the people at the region as well. Getting everyone up and out of their seats, meandering the halls as small teams seemed like the best way to do this. Participants were asked to find out ordinary things in the regional office, like the names of conference rooms, and to search out more unusual fixtures of the office, such as the harpoon on John Piltzecker’s office wall,” Sims explained. This activity also humanized the employees and officials of the Northeast Regional Office to the parks based attendees, helping to bridge the gap between the offices and the field.
This training is one of two trainings that are held annually in the Northeast Region and that are organized by the Northeast Regional Office’s Management Assistant, Cherie Butler. Cherie explained that, “The regional office is focused on achieving the goals outlined in call-to-action items Tools of The Trade and Welcome Aboard. We recognize that Director Jarvis wants us to make sure that managers at the park level are both aware of the many ways our office can help them achieve their goals and are familiar with our staff and comfortable working with them The Call To Action ” Floyd Myers, the Chief of Business and Partnerships at the National Parks of New York Harbor said that, “It’s so refreshing to meet so many of the people I deal with over the phone or via e-mail in person. Everyone I met here was eager to help and assist me in any way they could in the future.” This belief seemed to be an across-the-board opinion of those who attended, as surveys revealed that the most useful thing attendees gained from their attendance was both a deeper relationship and a better understanding of the Northeast Regional
Attendees listened to a presentation in the Delaware Room of the Northeast Regional Office
Over the course of the training, the nineteen attendees were exposed to a variety of practical learning opportunities, including simulations, lectures, pop quizzes, and case studies. The many offices that they toured during their scavenger hunt became less of a random maze but became far more comprehensible as resources that they could rely on in their work. By the end of the two days of sessions, attendees were introduced to the entire spectrum of the Northeast Regional Office Leadership and offices.
Cape Cod National Seashore Superintendent George Price
The regional office staff was also augmented by a contingent of long-serving park personnel who offered their experience to the group. George Price, the Superintendent of Cape Cod National Seashore shared several scenarios from his work and explored how a park can achieve successful coordination with the Northeast Regional Office. Acadia’s Chief of Maintenance, Jim Vekasi also presented and after his presentation he was given the Department of Interior’s Honor Award for his numerous extraordinary contributions to the National Park Service. Surveys given after the training consistently praised the quality of the presentations and called for it to be offered more often. The next training will be offered in the summer of 2013.