News Release Date: October 20, 2017
Contact: Tina Boehle, 208.387.5200
“The keynote speakers inspired me. I left the conference with a renewed sense of confidence and energy along with an itching to raise my hand more for opportunities, even when it is a stretch assignment.” So stated one participant who attended the annual Women and Leadership Conference hosted by the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University at the end of September 2017.
This was the fifth year that the conference took place and the fourth year in which National Park Service employees participated. What made this year different was that the National Park Service Division of Fire and Aviation co-sponsored the conference and brought seventeen women and men as scholarship recipients to attend the conference from the field, regional, and national levels of the National Park Service. All scholarship recipients were either full-time or collateral duty in the fields of aviation, structural fire, or wildland fire. Scholarship participants not only attended the two-day conference, but also participated in sessions before and after the conference that focused on inclusion and diversity discussions in the fields of fire and aviation. The session prior to the conference focused specifically on the National Park Service, while a Friday optional session included meeting with interagency partners in the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
This year was especially poignant for attendees and the Andrus Center, as former Idaho Governor and former Secretary of the Interior, as well as namesake for the Andrus Center for Public Policy, Cecil Andrus, passed away a little over a month before the conference. He had been very influential in creating the conference and spoke at it the previous four years.
Participants heard excellent keynote addresses from women who were “LOUD, PROUD, AND PASSIONATE”, as well as those who seized prospects that might have been a stretch, but instead led to further opportunities. The speakers had travelled many different paths to get to where they were today. A National Park Service participant commented on how touched she was by a story shared by Meredith Walker of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls about meeting a Syrian refugee who had little, but shared her most prized possession, a star necklace, that Ms. Walker still wears. “The connection for me was how we can have a positive impact on those around us by sharing of ourselves and helping one another. We might not even know who has been helped by a kind word or simply encouragement.”
The conference also featured networking, which allowed National Park Service employees to visit with other conference participants about the bureau, and skill builders to learn about being at one’s personal as well as professional best. Topics ranged from interview skills to caregiving, to having your best day at work, and more.
The feedback about the conference was very positive, but the highlight for many of the scholarship participants was the opportunity to sit in a circle with National Park Service colleagues and share their experiences with one another. The group has continued to stay in touch with one another and look forward to working together on details, assignments, or simply reaching out with a word of encouragement.