The Study Of Relationships

Being an economist is a little like owning a crystal ball.  You have the foresight to know what risks are worth taking and what risks you should avoid. A skill that many would like to incorporate into their decisions making process!

Taking a Critical Eye to the Study of Relationships

Meet Charles Notzon, Economist
Planning Division, Denver Service Center 

Experience and education

I have a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Texas-Austin, and a master’s degree in International Affairs (with a concentration in International Economics) from UC-San Diego.

I spent several years working as an analyst for a defense contractor in Washington DC, and after graduate school, three years as a research associate at the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, with a focus on applied microeconomics and finance.

NPS employee Charles Notzon with a missile
Charles spent 8 months as an interpretive intern at Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the Marin Headlands, interpreting the Nike Missile Battery (SF-88) and other historic sites.

What is a typical day like?

My work is primarily office-based and project focused with some occasional travel. At any given time, I am working on at least six projects in parks across the United States. Planning is a very collaborative job, and to successfully complete planning projects, I work with resource specialists, landscape architects, visitor use management specialists, construction managers, and engineers, as well as the staff in the parks we support through our project work.

In planning, economics is applicable in a variety of ways. The socioeconomic environment is a classic impact topic in our plans that involve National Environmental Policy Act compliance, which may require analysis of how the proposed actions in the plan might affect the economy in the region surrounding a particular park. Economics is also helpful in evaluating the financial feasibility of plans, facility management (in particular, life cycle cost analysis), and the development of business and commercial services plans and strategies.

NPS Employee Charles Notzon standing next to a wooden NPS sign
NPS Employee Charles Notzon

What career advice would you give…

Be on the lookout for opportunities to combine your skills and interests, and put yourself in situations where you might encounter the right people. As an intern at Golden Gate, I had no idea what DSC was until I met several staff from the planning division who were in the park for a public meeting. That encounter led to further conversations, and eventually a job offer. It was a calculated risk, but one that paid off in the end!

Anything else…
Working for the National Park Service for the last five years has given me a great appreciation for all that goes on behind the scenes to make a park operate successfully.