Conservation Diaries: Manuel Santos, Graphic Design Intern

man with latino heritage internship program's blue shirt posing in front of a stage
Manuel Santos at New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park

NPS Photo

Manuel Santos spent his 2021 Summer working as an intern at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, as part of the Latino Heritage Internship Program. One of the main reasons he loved working at this park was because it honors the importance and beauty of Jazz and its history.

Manuel is a recent Graphic Design and Art History minor graduate from Loyola University New Orleans. He was born and raised in Puerto Rico and since he was young he’s had a passion for the arts and anything that had to do with creativity, including music. He wants to be able to use design in both creative and practical environments and wants his work to be useful and inspiring to others.

New Orleans is widely recognized as the birthplace of jazz and the sites and structures associated with the early history of jazz remain in the city. In 1987, Congress resolved that "Jazz is hereby designated as a rare and valuable national American treasure to which we should devote our attention, support, and resources to make sure it is preserved, understood and promulgated."

“Jazz is like gumbo, a typical food from here. It’s a combination of different cultures that have been part of Louisiana and New Orleans, long before it was called that.”

Manuel didn’t know much about New Orleans before he moved there for college four years ago, and the diversity of the beautiful city was one of the immediate charms that kept him there. The city used to be called Bulbancha, which means “place of many tongues”, because it was a trading port for many different peoples, of distinct heritages and linguistic groups. That is why inclusivity and representation is really important at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.

“The city is just born out of a diversity of cultures. It is really important to have people that aren't just of one singular cultural background. It's good to have all these people working because not only do they bring different perspectives, but they are also passionate about the story they're telling in the park.”

midsize stage with instruments like drums, plus lighting, sound and camera equipment
Jazz National Historical Park’s stage full of instruments, music recording equipment and cameras

NPS Photo

The Jazz National Historical Park is a small indoors park with a midsize stage full of instruments, music recording equipment, cameras, among other things. It’s like a small auditorium with TV screens and posters with information about New Orleans’ musical history.

Because of the pandemic the park itself was closed. But the park teamed up with its sister park, the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve French Quarter Visitor Center (which is only a few blocks away) and moved its visitor’s center there. However, the park continued with some concert series with virtual performances. Bands would come in and play while Manuel and other employees recorded them and posted their performances on the park’s Facebook page.

“It was a nice virtual performance for people to just watch at home since they can’t come here. It was pretty fun that I still got to spend time at the park even though we were closed.”

image of a logo with the words New Orleans National Historical Park in purple, yellow and green lettering, and the J is a saxophone
New logo that Manuel designed

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As an intern, Manuel’s tasks varied from creating posters for specific events and creating a logo for the park and animating it. He also got to help a local film crew shoot a music video. They went around the French Quarter, performed at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, and performed outdoors which was a spectacle for tourists walking around.

His biggest project, however, was working in collaboration with Love’s Music Therapy to orchestrate and teach a summer digital workshop for children and young adults on the autism spectrum. With the help of ranger Jon, Manuel taught four students lessons on Adobe Photoshop, Logic Pro, and Adobe Premiere Pro. The kids learned the basics of these programs and at the end of the workshops they were able to record a live performance, mixed, edited, and performed any postproduction changes they wanted.

The students enjoyed it and what might have been some boring classes every now and then, ended in a fun and engaging event that seemed to have paid off. A local TV station even attended the event and interviewed some of the students!

“I have thought for a while that I might eventually want to get into teaching, and this has been a great experience to dip my toes into it and it’s been fun. I love working with kids.”

student in front of two computer monitors, working the mounted camera controller while other students are in front of the camera
Tru, one of the students, working the mounted camera controller while some of the students' jam

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Growing up, Manuel wished he could’ve had the opportunity to take a workshop like this, which is part of the reason he was happy he got to be involved in these collaborative lessons. Manuel says summer camps and experiences like these end up having long lasting and strong impacts on children and can spark an interest that they otherwise might have not known they had. Classes like these ones in someone’s early life can have a huge impact on their future, it can help guide kids and teens towards careers they are actually passionate about.

"The idea of having a summer camp like that is really fun because some of these kids are interested in that stuff and already do this in their own time. But others might not know that they also find video or editing interesting. So, something might click and get them to pursue a career in the arts, design, music or video in the future.”

students seating in front of a small stage, watching a video on a big screen
The kids, Ranger Jon and Jeremy Love watching the homework video edits they had completed as homework on the big screen at the park

NPS Photo

Manuel also says it is important to have programs within the National Park Service that are aimed for young people in underrepresented communities because having those voices represented in our federal government, is vital. Manuel wants to encourage the youth, especially in the Latinx community, to follow their passion, and try to use that passion to do good.

“It is really important to preserve parks, and it’s equally important to preserve history. And if you're kind of passionate about that, which if feel like a lot of people are, I think it's really important to have your voice heard and to be able to make change.”

woman posing at a park with a national park service water bottle
Nicole Segnini traveled the world from an early age including visiting many national parks in the US.

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Meet the Host

Nicole Segnini created the Conservation Diaries podcast series in 2021 during her Latino Heritage Internship Program internship with the National Park Service's Office of Communications in 2021. Venezuelan-born, she knows firsthand Latinx communities' passion and commitment to conservation and wanted to engage the rising generation of stewards—of all cultural backgrounds—to picture themselves in conservation careers or working in the National Park Service. Nicole used her background and experience in journalism, social media influencer, and television news producer to create the Conservation Diaries podcast series to bring out the stories of youth in the National Park Service from their own perspectives.

"There are so many young people in underrepresented and minority communities across the country who care so much about conservation, historical preservation, nature, wildlife, the outdoors, and our beautiful parks, and I think it's important that we elevate and amplify their voices and their important work. They are working hard to protect and preserve our natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources and I believe that work is usually overlooked. That's why I wanted to start something like this." - Nicole Segnini

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park

Last updated: January 12, 2022