I can't tell you how often National Park Service (NPS) employees, not just in Grand Teton but across the country, get asked what it's like to be a park ranger. They want to know what our lives are like, where we live, and how we got a job working for the NPS. It takes a lot to run a park and to make it run as seamlessly as possible. Nearly any job that exists outside the NPS exists in the park service too. Not all of us wear uniforms, or drive cars with green stripes and arrowheads on them, or hang out of helicopters, or follow the bears around. We need skilled IT staff to make our computers and phones work, human resources staff to hire us and make sure we get paid, maintenance staff to repair vehicles and discard trash, and people to crunch numbers and manage our budget. Over the next several months I hope to answer these questions and introduce you to some of the people behind the scenes who most visitors never get the chance to meet and provide you with some insights into what it really takes to run a national park.
But first, let me introduce you to myself. My name is Jenny and I am the Public Affairs Specialist for Grand Teton National Park. I work with the news media, community members, park stakeholders, and the general public to communicate news and information about Grand Teton National Park as well as the mission of the National Park Service. I serve as a spokeswoman for Grand Teton, as the social media coordinator for the park (check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube), and I process Freedom of Information Act requests for park records.
I started working in Grand Teton National Park as a summer seasonal in the Public Affairs Office in 2009 and 2010. In June of 2011 I moved into my current job as a year-round permanent NPS employee. How lucky am I?! My first job with the NPS was working in the National Capitol Region Office of Communication in Washington, D.C., again as a summer seasonal. Most of my time is spent at a desk on the computer. I do wear a uniform (most of the time), but I am not Law Enforcement so I don't carry a gun. Though it's not part of my primary duties, I am an EMT so I also work on the park's ambulance.
Over the last several weeks we have been in the process of moving to a new headquarters building. The new building consolidates all park divisions into one primary facility and provides us with modern and functional work spaces. It took quite an impressive and coordinated effort to make this move happen and we aren't finished yet! Below are some pictures that show phase 1 of the move process before, during, and after. The new office spaces are part of a $22 million effort to address critical operational, infrastructure, and life and safety needs in the Moose area. The project is registered with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for silver certification.
Our old office was built in 1958 as part of the NPS's "Mission '66", an effort to modernize parks in line with the 50th anniversary of the creation of the NPS in 1916. Mission '66 also sought to improve deteriorating visitor services and conditions in national parks following a post World War II visitor boom. You can find more information about Mission '66 here http://www.mission66.com/mission.html.
This is the buidling we just moved out of. It served as the Moose Visitor Center until 2007 when we opend the beautiful Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center across the street, and as Park Headquarters until May of 2012.
Over the years as Grand Teton increased the number of staff to meet operational needs of the park many staff had to move into temporary office spaces like the brown trailers above. Renovating our new Headquarters building required some staff that were housed on the bottom floor to shuffle into these white trailers in bottom picture. As you can imagine, all this change and movement has certainly kept our IT team busy over the last year!
And so we packed up and moved!
The office on the left is the reception area for the Superintendent's Office in the old building and the image on the right is the reception area for the Superintendent's Office in the new building. What a difference, huh?!