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Conservation Diaries

National Mall and Memorial Parks, San Antonio Missions, Cabrillo, Youth Programs Division, Heritage Documentation Programs, National Trails Office - Regions 6, 7, 8, Operations, IMR Deputy Director, Resource Stewardship & Science Directorate - Regions 6, 7, 8 more »

Conservation Diaries is a podcast series from the voice of the youth of the National Park Service as they share their passion and commitment to conservation of America's natural and cultural treasures. Listen as interns, volunteers, fellows, or employees across the National Park Service share their perspectives on conservation and why it is important for youth to be involved in the stewardship of their public lands.


Conservation Diaries: Hillary Morales Robles, Architecture Intern



Nicole: Hello and welcome to a new National Park Service podcast series, Conservation Diaries. I’m your host, Nicole Segnini.

In these episodes we will be showcasing some of the Latinx interns who are working on amazing projects at the National Park Service.

There are several youth programs designed to connect kids, teens, and young adults with opportunities at national park sites to contribute to our nation’s natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources in their own way. Like the Latino Heritage Internship Program, or LHIP.

This summer there were 32 interns working on projects in parks across the nation. I sat down with some of them to talk about the importance of their work and projects and about why representation at the parks matters.

Our first guest is Hillary Morales Robles. She is from Puerto Rico and is currently a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing not one but two in architecture and another one historical preservation.

Hillary: Why two? Cause one is not enough. [laughs] Now to be honest is to become a licensed architect. Also, there is not enough preservation architects, especially women, in Latino communities. So, I feel like I can fill that void in the field I guess and can hopefully do great work in the future.

Nicole: For two months over the summer, Hillary worked as a Historic American Buildings Survey Architectural intern with the Heritage Documentation Programs at the National Park Service. In this role, she documented the historical and architectural features of General Simón Bolívar Park and statue outside the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C.

She told me about some of the different techniques for documenting, including the use of photogrammetry, which is the science and art of using photographs to extract three-dimensional information from a series of well-placed images.

The National Park Service uses photogrammetry to improve access to scientifically important or interesting objects and in turn enhance the visitor's experience. This includes photogrammetry of more than 40 different species of shark fossils at Mammoth Cave, paleontological treasures at the Grand Canyon, and even 3-D post-Civil War inscriptions at Gettysburg.

Hillary: We’ve been doing a lot of stuff, but mostly the goal is to produce a set of drawings that are going to be documented and included in the collection, HABS, HAER, and HALS collection in the Library of Congress. I am very excited for that. [laughs] I am also learning other things about especially technology and different techniques for documentation processes. Like we started first with photogrammetry and laser scanning of the park overall. Mostly laser scanning for the park and photogrammetry for the statue itself because we want to reach a high level of accuracy and these technologies are providing us the right tools to do that in a short period of time. [laughs] And also like, after that we generated a point cloud and colored data that we are using to produce the 2-D drawings, the plan, elevation, and details of the monument and park.

Nicole: The 27-foot bronze equestrian statue was donated by the Venezuelan government, which also paid for its installation in 1959. Simón Bolívar was known as El Gran Libertador, or “The Great Liberator,” and as a revolutionary genius. Bolivar fought in more than 200 battles against the Spanish in the fight for South American independence. He helped free six nations: Bolivia, Colombia (which then included Panama), Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

Historic preservation is an important way for us to transmit our understanding of the past to future generations. Our nation's history has many facets, and historic preservation helps tell these stories. Many believe having a Latina helping in the preservation of a Latino monument and its history is vital.

Hillary: I think the goal, especially for this internship, is to create more awareness of Latino culture in the U.S. But also train Latino students and professionals to be part of the goal and outreach, no?. I think we need more people like us doing our own thing. [laughs]

Nicole: Within the National Park Service, many people work in historic preservation: archeologists, architects—like Hillary—curators, historians, and other cultural resource professionals. The National Park Service carries out historic preservation both within and outside of the National Park System.

Hillary: I am an art historian too, I studied art history and environmental design in the University of Puerto Rico. So, I first knew about the HABS collection when I was 18. I did a lot of architecture history research reports and I used HABS as one of my main resources. Especially photography, I was so obsessed with that and I really wanted to learn about all the different skills the right way. They basically established the standards of documentation. Historically HABS are a very important piece in the field of preservation, and I really want to know and learn. I never expected to be here. [laughs] But let's say life put me here, I guess.

Nicole: Hillary spoke about just how important it is to have more Latinos working at national parks and involved in conservation and preservation efforts, especially when working at or with Latino heritage sites.

Hillary: Unfortunately, our communities don’t have a lot of professionals that are involved in these types of projects and we need more people like us here because it’s our heritage, it’s our culture. And I personally believe that we have the ability to represent our voices better and establish the right relationships with our communities. It doesn’t make you qualified, it’s not about that. You need to still have the capacity and knowledge and the skills to do the work. But I feel that we need more professionals, Latino professionals, in these types of projects so we can achieve a level of authenticity and represent the best we can our voices for the future.

Nicole: While discussing her internship this summer Hillary talked about inclusion and about how welcoming her supervisors were, and how important that was throughout her whole experience.

Hillary: I mean my two supervisors, Paul Davidson and Robert Arzola, I think working with both of them this summer has been really fun. I was not expecting them to be so welcoming. So, it’s been refreshing working in a healthy work environment, I think. Working with them is very interesting; they are so open-minded, they share their wisdom with me, and they treat me as an equal. That was something, I was like yes please. [laughs] I have been learning so much because of that approachness and welcoming. That can be fun, so I can be myself, and work doesn’t seem too overwhelming and intimidating, so it’s nice.

Nicole: Sometimes many in the Latinx community never really thought that they would be able to work or intern at this incredible organization. Because, although Hispanics/Latinos make up over 18% of the U.S. population, they only make up a little over 5% of the NPS workforce. And when you have leadership that makes you feel welcomed and as if your work matters, there are many benefits including a greater readiness to innovate, increased ability to recruit from a diverse talent pool, and a much higher employee retention rate.

That is why youth programs such as Latino Heritage Internship Program are so important. And Hillary wants the Latinx youth to not be discouraged and apply.

Hillary: They should definitely do it. I think I know by default because of myself, I think we get so intimidated. I think we talk about this a lot, impostor syndrome, ‘cause again we don’t have representation and role models that we can look at and say, “oh we can apply to these places,” and I feel that they should do it. It’s a great opportunity, why not? It's the federal government, it’s the National Park Service. You learn so much about the history of our landscapes, but also our heritage sites. That I think it’s a great opportunity...I don’t know, I am being very general right now but, the people you meet, the places you see... I think that is something that you will not regret. And also you are doing what’s your passion, and you expose yourself to new things and you realize that ‘oh if I can do this, I can do anything else,” right?’. I feel like we see these types of jobs very far away from our realities, but it’s something that is possible. I would love anyone to apply. [laughs] Just apply.

Nicole: Hillary’s incredible work will be documented on the HABS/HAER/HALS Collection at the Library of Congress for future generations to see. If you want to learn more about the Heritage Documentation Programs, you can visit our website

There are many opportunities for youth and young adults 15-30 years old and veterans 35 years old and younger to work with the National Park Service.

To learn more about these jobs, internships, and volunteering opportunities, you can go to

Thank you for listening!

[Music fades]

Meet Hillary Morales Robles. During the summer of 2021, Hillary was part of the Latino Heritage Internship Program, working as an architecture intern at the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) of the Heritage Documentation Programs in Washington DC. She spent the summer documenting the historic architectural and landscape features of the General Simón Bolívar Memorial in front of the Department of the Interior building.

Conservation Diaries: Cristóbal López , Cultural Resources Intern



Nicole: I am Nicole Segnini and you are listening to Conservation Diaries, a new National Park Service podcast series. In these episodes we are showcasing some of the Latinx interns who are working on amazing projects at the National Park Service.

There are several youth programs designed to connect kids, teens and young adults with opportunities at national park sites to contribute to our nations natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources in their own way. Like the Latino Heritage Internship Program, or LHIP.

In this episode I spoke with Cristóbal López, who is from the small town of Dublin, Texas, and is currently a graduate student at the University of Texas San Antonio working on his M.A. in History.

Cristóbal began telling me that what motivates him throughout his academic and professional career is his parents.

Cristóbal: My parents are both immigrants from Mexico. Both of them came in the 1980s. So they've been here for a while. And they just they kind of left everything behind to try to establish a home here and try to find a new life here. So I'm really motivated through them and kind of everything that I do is for them. So when it comes to history, I like to study and to write about kind of like those underrepresented classes that don't fit the grand narrative, that don’t fit the bigger narrative, usually overshadowed by other histories.

Nicole: During the summer, Cristóbal worked as a Cultural Resource Management Intern at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Along with the Alamo—the missions in this park have been designated as World Heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO, recognizing their outstanding universal or global value for history and culture.

The park consists of four Spanish colonial missions: Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña, Mission San José, Mission San Juan Capistrano, and Mission San Francisco de la Espada.

These missions were established over 300 years ago and served as a tool for the Spanish empire to colonize what became New Spain. They made a lasting impact on San Antonio culture and the park’s goal is to tell these stories of colonization, acculturation, and survival.

Cristóbal’s work there was researching the origins of a small cemetery located in front of the church at Mission San José.

That mission is the most restored mission site offering a glimpse of what the mission sites would’ve looked like during the mission period. The walls, part of the church, and granary were all restored in the 1930’s by the Works Progress Administration. And the mission was also moved twice before it found its current site.

The goal of this project was to figure out what happened to the rest of that cemetery and find out if there were more burials.

Cristóbal: There's always there's always been rumors and everyone in the community kinda has different rumors of different stories of what they've heard. And everyone thinks that...oh, you know they reburied, like they took these and reburied them at a different cemetery. Then here's like two cemeteries where people think that they were reburied. I heard another story that says that people were reburied under the church during the restoration projects. So it’s kinda my goal to figure out what happened to that, orwhat happened to those burials and try to figure out their outcome.

Nicole: There are two graves in front of the church. You can read what's written in one of the headstones and it is known who is buried there. That is Juan J. Huizar, a descendant of a man named Pedro Huizar who is really famous in the history of Mission San José .

Cristóbal: It’s like reported that he was one of the ones who the carving, and that carved the famous Rose Window that became really well known here in San Antonio.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to read the second headstone because it’s been weathered down.

Throughout the summer Cristóbal did a lot of archives research and used online databases which are extremely useful tools for conducting genealogical research.

In his search he found several photographs of Mission San José from the late 1800s that depicted multiple burial plots in front of the church. The plots in the pictures were surrounded by little wooden fences that were common in Hispanic cemeteries found across the American Southwest.

Cristóbal: I started finding pictures of that, and that was like, great. I saw him and I was like ‘ok, there's these pictures, there's a cemetery, now we know it was a cemetery. There was people buried there, like quite a few people buried there.’ So that was really cool. That was kind of like one of those big steps in my research.

Nicole: Another discovery during his research was finding Mission Espada church records written by a priest named Father Francis Bouchu, also from the late 1800s. In those records Cristóbal found evidence of burials being conducted at San José.

Cristóbal: I went to his uh like the book of, like the burial book or the book of burials. That’s where they kind of list all the burials they were conducting. And I started noticing he would list the name and then he would put “at San José”. And then I found there was twenty-one entries in total from 1880 to like 1902 I believe, or around that time. So, there's about twenty-one entries that he recorded to have been buried at San Jose. And that coincides with the pictures that I found of burials there in front of Mission San José. So and the coolest part about it was that the person, Juan Huizar, his name was recorded in that book too. There’s a high possibility, but is just one of those things that we can’t say 100% these people were buried there, but I think that it’s likely.

Nicole: A lot of mission descendants don’t know where their ancestors are buried. Cristóbal believes doing this sort of work is important because it brings closure to them.

A few older cemeteries can be found in the area, including one specifically for people from the missions, their families and descendants. That one is calledcalled San Jose Mission Cemetery. But many descendants don’t know where their ancestors are, beyond that cemetery.

Cristóbal: They have stories, one of them told me my great-great-great grandfather is buried there in front of the church, but we don’t know. So I think on a local level I think this project was really important to try and find that out, try to find out where those burials were. And I wish I would’ve found where the outcome or like what happened to them, but unfortunately, I never did. I never found those records. But at least just being able to say, hey, you know, they might have been here or we do have evidence that there were here at some point...I think that's important. And I think that just gives the families a lot of answers and a lot of closure.

Nicole: With projects like this one, that involves the community and mission descendants, not everyone is going to relate to the work and the stories of these people. And given his background, Cristóbal talked about why he thinks it is so important to have diversity at the parks and within the National Park Service . And why he believes having people from different backgrounds, who bring different perspectives, is vital...especially when trying to make sense of complex stories.

Cristóbal: It’s the different perspectives that take into the park, especially for a historical park like this one, because not everyone's going to view that history the same and not everyone's going to be the outcome of that history the same. Those are two completely different perspectives that someone might have and a minority might have the different perspectives as a non-minority would. So it's having those different perspectives in the park and those different interpretations and just kind of seeing what we can come of it, what we can make of it. How can we try not to prioritize one over the other, but as a way to kind of bring them together and see what we can create to just kind of produce the best story, the best projection of the park in its history.

Nicole: With currently only between 5 to 6 percent of the employees at the National Park Service being Hispanic, Cristóbal has some advice for the Latinx youth and other underrepresented communities trying to get into the conservation and historical preservation fields.

Cristóbal: Like I told you earlier, my parents really motivate what I do, and it's kind of that that preservation and conservation of the Hispanic heritage culture and stuff like that. And I think that the park service is a really good avenue to do that, specifically with conservation. So I think for Latinos or for any just underrepresented community, it's just kind of find that that niche that that you like kind of what motivates you, what you're interested in when it comes to conservation and preservation. And it can just run with it. Just go for it.

Nicole: Many questions remain unanswered regarding the cemetery that Cristóbal had been researching. He believes it is important for the park to continue researching these, and other grave sites throughout the park.

A detailed report of Cristóbal research will be housed at the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park’s library. If you want to learn more about the missions and their history, you can visit the park’s website at

And remember, there are many opportunities for youth and young adults 15-30 years old and veterans 35 years old and younger to work with the National Park Service.

To learn more about these jobs, internships and volunteering can go to

Thanks for listening!

[music fades]

During the summer of 2021, Cristóbal López worked as a Cultural Resource Management Intern for the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in San Antonio, Texas, under the Latino Heritage Internship Program. Cristóbal’s job during the summer was to research the origins of the cemetery located in front of the church at Mission San José, one of the four missions of the park.

Conservation Diaries: Alisa Hernandez, Wildlife Biology Intern



Nicole: Welcome to a new episode of Conservation Diaries, I’m Nicole Segnini, your host.

In this new National Park Service podcast series, we are showcasing some of the Latinx interns who are working on amazing projects with the National Park Service. There are several youth programs designed to connect kids, teens, and young adults with opportunities at national park sites to contribute to our nation’s natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources in their own way. Like the Latino Heritage Internship Program, or LHIP.

Our guest today is Alisa Hernandez, from California. She is an undergraduate biology student at California State University.

Right now, she is still exploring what career path she wants to take after graduation, and this internship has provided her some guidance of possible paths. She has a passion for wildlife, conservation biology, and ecology.

Alisa: I like plants I like animals. So yeah, I’m still trying to figure it out. I just know something on dry land. And I think I am leaning to conservation; that really strikes a chord with me and it’s something I became passionate about. So, yeah, I'm just conserving resources, rare mammals—not mammals—rare animals, and just things that need our help that are being pushed out by people and they can't advocate for themselves.

Nicole: Over the summer Alisa worked as a wildlife biology and natural resources intern at Cabrillo National Monument. That is in Point Loma in San Diego, California, all the way at the southwestern tip of the state.

The monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay in 1542. This event marked the first time a European expedition had set foot on what later became the West Coast of the United States. In addition to telling the story of 16th-century exploration, the park is home to a wealth of cultural and natural resources.

Alisa’s work at the park consisted of researching the herpetofauna community at the park. That’s the reptiles and amphibians' community. The park has traps that have been up since 1995 and every season they go out there to collect data on the kinds of animals that get trapped. Each organism is measured and recorded for length, mass, sex, and approximate age before being released.

Alisa: So, they have this huge twenty-five-year data set that they gave me to work with. And I decided that I was interested in looking at climate factors like temperature, humidity, precipitation, to see if there's any relationship between those changing factors and the herpetofauna community, seeing that climate change is a very real and evolving problem.

If there was some kind of impact on these species that are essentially on what's basically an island, because Point Loma is a really small area of San Diego. It's a peninsula that sticks out the mainland, so there's water on three sides of it, and then on the fourth side it's blocked off by urban land development.

So, all the animals that are on the peninsula can't really migrate out if they wanted to. So they're kind of stuck there. So, it's like this really closed off environment. And I was curious if there is a relationship between climate and how they're doing.

Nicole: The data was collected by the NPS and U. S. Geological Survey agencies. She did a lot of coding, statistics, and modeling on the computer to find a relationship between climate and the herpetofauna community, but she told me she had a lot of busts. She said there wasn’t a lot of relationships between the data for temperature and precipitation. But there was something else she did find.

Alisa: But I found the humidity actually ended up being a pretty good predictor for two different species of lizards, the side side-blotched lizard and orange throated whiptail lizard. So, my models showed a negative relationship between them and humidity. So, it can be predicted that as humidity increases, the amount of those lizards seen would decrease. Which is interesting because a climate change-type idea is that it gets drier than it already is. So, we might see that these would increase and be kind of favored or winners in a drier environment. But that makes you wonder what's happening with the other lizards and reptiles in the community: are they going to be pushed out, outcompeted? Because a lot of these lizards eat the same kind of things as the other species. So, it's kind of an interesting relationship to see how is that going to play out in the future as things do get hotter and drier in this little urban island.

Nicole: The work Alisa did over the summer will be used to help guide future projects at the park. Right now, the park is working on a plan to re-introduce a locally extinct species of lizard called the coastal horned lizard. Knowing the kind of population dynamics can help the park consider possible impacts when making management decisions, such as planning a new trail.

Now, with parks and recreational areas there is so much human interaction with the environment. And while this is great, it also comes with the risk that not every interaction is going to be ideal.

That is why Alisa says it is important to understand the populations of animals and plants within parks so that when people get more introduced to that area, we can see how the population is reacting and how we can make sure they are safe.

Alisa: I know a lot of people wish they could take, like, their dogs on trails. But if you think about it, a dog is very similar smelling, looking, acting to like a wolf or a coyote. And a lot of smaller animals when they see that, they're like, oh no, I need to get away from here. And if they were hungry and they almost had food waiting for them, but your dog walked by and now it smells and reeks of predator and that animal then starves because they have to run away. it's not good. And if that's the only one of five individuals in that whole area, that's really not good for the population. So it's just, you know, it can be a cascading effect from people's interactions with these areas, both good and bad. So knowing how it is before can help you react to and improve upon it so that it can stay a healthy environment for both people and the organisms already living there.

Nicole: Alisa also spoke about why she feels is important to encourage the Latinx youth, that are interested in the STEM field, to actually pursue those careers.

She says it’s difficult to find people that look like her, who are Latinx, that are in the field of wildlife biology. And she wants to change that.

Alisa: I know I would be ecstatic to meet someone from a similar background who would be like ‘look I made it, I did it, and you can too!’ like that’s amazing to me.

I think it's cool when I get to meet, like especially at Cabrillo, young children who are like, oh, what are you doing? And I'm like, oh, I'm doing this lizard research. And they're like, that's so cool. People don't even know that you do that. I think it's important that there's like more opportunity for diversity in this field. Conservation is so important for everyone. Anyone who's living on this planet of ours and getting more people involved and more people educated about it, I feel like it's just so important. And I feel like a lot of kids like me didn't even have that opportunity to get that experience. So I think it's important to, like, introduce as many people to it as we can and help people understand it's important so that they can share it with everyone else they know. And then who knows? There might be more kids like me who are really interested in working outside and taking care of these animals, but they just didn't know that was an option.

Nicole: Alisa told me she was very thankful to have been able to work at Cabrillo where she says her supervisors and fellow employees were so supportive and welcoming of her and diversity as a whole.

She also spoke about the importance of trying to find something you are passionate about and being able to make a career out of it.

Programs like the Latino Heritage Internship Program can help young adults jumpstart their careers in the conservation field and with the National Park Service.

Alisa: Seeing something that's like Latino- or Hispanic-focused made me feel like I was already included. Like I didn't have to prove that I wanted to be there, like they were there because they wanted people like me and I was like, cool. It was cool to be wanted before you got there. And then you could see all these cool things that you could do. Programs like these are vital for that inclusion, I feel like.

Nicole: You can learn more about Cabrillo National Monument, its history and wildlife and plant populations, including the types of lizards Alisa was researching, by going on the park’s website at

And remember, there are many opportunities for youth and young adults 15-30 years old and veterans 35 years old and younger to work with the National Park Service.

To learn more about these jobs, internships, and volunteering opportunities, you can go to

Thanks for listening!

[music fades]

Meet Alisa Hernandez. She spent the summer of 2021 working as the Natural Resources & Wildlife Biology intern at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego, California, as part of the Latino Heritage Internship Program. Alisa worked with historic herpetofauna data to understand their population dynamics within the national monument. Herpetofauna consists of reptiles and amphibians.

Conservation Diaries: Manuel Santos, Graphic Design Intern



Nicole: Hello, you are listening to Conservation Diaries, a new National Park Service podcast series. I’m your host, Nicole Segnini. In this series we are showcasing some of the Latinx interns who are working on amazing projects with the National Park Service.

There are many youth programs designed to connect kids, teens, and young adults with opportunities at national parks sites to contribute to our nations natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources in their own way. Like the Latino Heritage Internship Program, or LHIP.

Our fourth guest is Manuel Santos from Puerto Rico. He is a recent graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans with a Bachelor of Design in Graphic design and a minor in Art History.

Manuel: I just ended up in design because I knew that with design at least I could at least bridge all the things I liked. Because if I did film it would have been like just film really. By design I can work with design in movies, music, and really like anything. That’s probably why I went with design. It’s kind of hard to put myself in my shoes four years ago, but I think that was my conclusion.

Nicole: Manuel spent this past summer as a graphic designer visual information specialist intern at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.

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 quote, "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."

The park's mission is to serve the nation as a global leader in the promotion of New Orleans jazz by enhancing and instilling a public appreciation and understanding of the origins, early history, development, and progression of this uniquely American music art form.

Manuel: So, one of the things that all the rangers try to tie up is the fact that, you know, gumbo is like a really typical food from here. It's just a combination of all the different cultures that have been a part of Louisiana and also New Orleans as a whole throughout and ever since its inception. And it's the same with jazz. It's just a culmination of all these different cultures. That's sort of what all the posters and interactive stuff at the jazz parks try to tell you. It's just jazz and come from one specific place. Well, it’s in New Orleans, but it’s a combination of all these cultures whether it’s Caribbean, African music, you name it.

Nicole: Manuel didn’t know much about New Orleans before he moved there for college four years ago, and the diversity of the beautiful city, and its music, was one of the immediate charms that kept him there.

He told me 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. Like Manuel said, the city’s food and music are a combination and culmination of many cultures. And so are the people.

That is why inclusivity and representation is really important at the park.

Manuel: I think it’s really good to have diversity of culture everywhere, but specifically when it’s something that is government-funded and has to do with preserving history and I think it’s needed, really needed. Just because of how much the city is just born out of a diversity of culture, I guess. So it is really important to have people that don't have one singular cultural background, like it's good to have all these people working. Especially because, I mean, you get different perspectives, but also they're cut...They'd be kind of passionate about the story they're telling in the park.

It’s a really interesting city when you get to know the whole history and I don’t even know it all yet. I am constantly hearing about the history of New Orleans and Louisiana. And it ties in jazz history too, they go hand in hand.

Nicole: As an intern, Manuel’s tasks varied from creating posters for specific events and creating a logo for the park and animating it.

At the time of this podcast, the park has been closed with the ongoing pandemic, so the park’s visitor center is temporarily located at its sister park Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve French Quarter Visitor Center, which is only a few blocks away. Even though their main exhibit halls are also closed, they have temporarily set up shop in the courtyard with a small exhibit in one of the outside rooms, which features a piano that people can play, a TV with a video detailing the history of the Louisiana, as well as posters along the walls.

Manuel: Even though we were closed, it was nice that we would still do show recordings. Bands would come in and we would record them and then just upload them on Facebook. So it was like a fun virtual performance for people to just like watch at home and for even other stuff like this that the Creole Tomato Fest, French Quarter fest to like. It would just be like digital online performances, but we would just record them at the park. So it's pretty fun. Like, I still got to spend time at the park even though we were closed. I was able to be engage in the park, which is good.

Nicole: Manuel’s big 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 goal was to teach these kids the basics so that they can at the end record a live performance, mix it, edit it, and perform any post-production changes they please.

Manuel: So like I mainly focused on Photoshop and a little bit of Premiere because I knew how to do Premiere. Logic, we had someone come in to sort of show the kids. But sort of the point of teaching all this was that we're having a band come into the park and they're going to be the ones in charge of recording the band, like video-wise, mixing the board to make sure the sound is okay. And then once it's all wrapped up, they're going to edit the video and sort of make their own little video editing of the whole performance.

Nicole: Manuel told me the performance and recording were a success and he was very proud of the work his students were able to do.

This was a great way for him to dip his toes into education and teaching, a career path that he had been considering for a while.

He also talked about the importance of programs and summer camps like this one. 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. Workshops like this one could also make someone conscious of an interest they never thought they had.

Manuel: You know, I had some summer camps growing up as a kid. It was really hard to find a summer camp that was teaching something that I was interested in, and especially in Puerto Rico. I feel like, I don’t know, I was like “I want to like animate or do movies,” it’s not a niche thing. But to find a summer camp like that, at least in Puerto Rico, is kind of niche. I am sure here is different especially in New Orleans they’re filming movies all the time.

But, yeah, just the idea of having a summer camp like that is really fun because some of these kids are interested in that stuff, they already do this in their own time. But even if one them isn't interested in a specific thing, like maybe one like Photoshop and likes music, but doesn't really care about video or vice versa, you know, maybe doing something in this camp, something will click and then like, well, maybe I am interested in this and I want to, like, pursue that in the future.

Nicole: By the end of our interview, we talked about the importance of programs within the National Park Service that are aimed for young people in underrepresented communities and the importance of having those voices in our federal government. Manuel wants to encourage the youth, especially in the Latinx community, to follow their passion, and try to use that passion to do something good.

Manuel: I feel like there's jobs in almost every field for the government, especially with the national parks. But yeah, just the fact that you could use whatever you're passionate about, just sort of you kind of using it for good. I would hope at least, but because it is really important to preserve parks, it's really important to preserve history. And if you're kind of passionate about that, which if feel like a lot of people are, especially if you're, you know, in a minority group, I think it's really important to have your voice heard and to be able to make change. Because if you don't know if you're involved in this process at its sort of core, then you can make pretty good change, I’d say.

Nicole: National parks are more than just beautiful nature sceneries and historical monuments. New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park celebrates a living legacy of musical traditions, and you can learn more about the park on their website at You can also take a look at some of the live musical performances on the park’s Facebook page.

And remember, there are many opportunities for youth and young adults 15-30 years old and veterans 35 years old and younger to work with the National Park Service.

To learn more about these jobs, internships, and volunteering opportunities, you can go to

Thank you for listening!

[Music fades]

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.

Conservation Diaries: Ramona Malczynski, Partnership Outreach Intern



Nicole: Welcome to Conservation Diaries, a new National Park Service podcast, I’m your host, Nicole Segnini.

In this episode of our series, we continue to showcase some of the Latinx interns who are working on amazing projects with the National Park Service. There are several youth programs designed to connect kids, teens, and young adults with opportunities at national parks sites to contribute to our nations natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources in their own way. Like the Latino Heritage Internship Program, or LHIP.

Today we are hearing from Ramona Malczynski, a current PhD student in geography and environmental studies at the University of New Mexico.

Ramona: I wanted to do my PhD in my hometown because I wanted to learn more about New Mexico and the history of New Mexico. I'm generally interested in environmental history, the politics of knowledge, who's environmentalist stories do we tell. And how does environmental history shape the present.

Nicole: This summer, Ramona was the Latino historic trails partnership outreach intern at the National Trails Office in New Mexico. She worked out of two offices in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

The National Park Service currently administers 30 trails within the National Trails System; 19 of those are designated historic trails. The National Trails Office for Regions 6, 7, and 8 where Ramona interns administers nine out of those 19 national historic trails and Route 66 that, combined, stretch for 25,000 miles across 24 states.

Her job involved doing a lot of outreach and collaboration with certified trail partners on four of the nine national historic trails administered by her office. Those are: El Camino Real de los Tejas, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, Santa Fe Trail and Old Spanish Trail. She was interested in the indigenous and Latino history of these four trails.

Unlike many National Park Service parks or other national trails across the country that you may be familiar with, the National Trails office in this region does not manage or own any land. It administers nine national historic trails, routes that people have traveled for centuries and that are central to the history of North America. Sections of these trails can be on public or private lands and rely heavily on partnerships and private landowners making them available and accessible for us to use.

Ramona: Historic trails are a lot different than scenic trails. They're scenic trails, like the Pacific Crest, I think is one of those scenic trails or the Appalachian Trail where people hike on them and experience nature.

But historic trails are paths that people have traveled for centuries, dating back to Indigenous people in North America to colonizers or settlers like Spanish or English, or French. So now, what people can do is look at different museums or historic sites along those trails and think about what it might have been like to travel those trails throughout history.

Nicole: The National Trails System Act of 1965 authorizes trail administrators to enter partnerships between the National Park Service and landowners and managers to protect and preserve their historic trail properties and share them with others.

Through the partner certification program, trail staff provide assistance to owners or managers of certified trail sites, trail segments, museums, and visitor centers. Trail staff work with people who own or manage land along these historic trails, whether that be a state, a city, a county, or an individual person, to provide access so that the public can visit that land and experience some aspect of the historic trail.

Ramona: For example, we have a partner at Casa San Ysidro, which is, I believe, owned by the City of Albuquerque. And it's a historic home from the 19th century. And we met with that director, who's our partner, and we talked to him about potentially helping him invite people to that place by putting his site Casa San Ysidro on our website and on the NPS phone app. And also talking with him about helping him apply for grants to improve the museum, like improving the interpretation or expanding or having workshops there.

Nicole: Ramona met with many certified partners along the four trails, to ensure that they had an opportunity to promote their site on the National Trail Office Places to Go page on and on the new official NPS App.

Additionally, Ramona shared information about what being a certified partner meant and what resource opportunities they would have. She also explained that partnership certification is completely voluntary, and that the office will only provide technical assistance at the request of the partner; the National Trails office does not tell land managers or private landowners what to do with their property.

One of Ramona’s visits included the small village of Tomé, about 40 minutes south of Albuquerque. There, she visited a place called Tomé Hill, a natural landmark that has served El Camino Real travelers for centuries, as well as several historic sites in the village. Forming a partnership with the land managers allowed the land grant and town managers to get help with road signs, promotion of the site, and to simply get more people to visit these historic sites.

Ramona’s visit revitalized this partnership, and, as a result, the National Trails office was able to replace some of the badly damaged road and site signs.

Ramona: And I had never been there before, but I had heard of it before. And it was very beautiful, but it definitely needs more upkeep.

We can help promote that site and get more people there. And maybe just make the site more beautiful and welcoming to people. So I think that's one example of how this is very important because the people of could go there, enjoy it, understand how the land that they live on is connected to thousands of years of history and just feel... I think knowing that increases your self-confidence and knowing that you're important and that your story is important, and that all of us are writing history right now, just like the people before us. So, I think having that connection to your land and your community is very important. I think that these partnerships help do that. For the public that lives around these historic sites on the national historic trails.

Nicole: These trails span thousands of miles. For example, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, or The “Royal Road to the Interior Land”, reaches 1,600 miles north from Mexico City to West Texas and New Mexico. it’s blazed atop a network of indigenous footpaths and trade corridors that connected Mexico's ancient cultures with the equally ancient cultures of the American Southwest. At one point it was even the longest road in North America.

One of Ramona’s favorite parts of her internship was being able to learn more about the history of her home, New Mexico, and it gave her insight into her own heritage as well.

Being of Mexican descent, Ramona feels very connected with the story of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro and believes someone like her could bring a different perspective and more passion and investment in telling the story of the trail.

Ramona: I drive along El Camino all the time to visit my family that lives near the border. So, it just feels very connected to my story. And I think when you have people like that working on these projects, who are invested and connected and have a passion for it, it's going to have a very different outcome than someone who might not feel as connected. But I'm not saying that that doesn't mean that someone who doesn't have Mexican or Spanish or indigenous heritage, I mean, they can work on it too. But I just think that you need to involve people who have that connection, whether it be someone on the NPS staff, hopefully, or the communities that surround these places, I think it brings a different perspective.

Nicole: That is why internships and programs like the Latino Heritage Internship Program are so important in trying to bring more people of Latino heritage into the National Park Service and encourage youth participation to make sure we are preserving these important stories and history.

Ramona wants everyone, especially young people, to know that there are many ways to get into conservation and historic preservation.

Ramona: I think that in conservation, there's so many things like you just said. You can be in communication. And you can be in advertising, you know, making flyers and posters and things like that. You can be doing outreach, using your communication skills to talk to people. But then you can also be doing things like counting lizards or using GIS to make maps of the trails or the parks. So I think there's room for everybody. And then it makes everything around you so interesting. When you walk out the door, you think, Oh, that's a cool tree. Or it's, you know, it's interesting that this road is where does this road go to? And I think if you're involved in environmental sciences and conservation, it just makes your whole world interesting or a historic preservation as well.

Nicole: Even though Ramona’s time at the National Park Service through her internship is over, she helped revitalize partnerships across the trails and identified new collaboration opportunities that will continue to help the office in the future. You can learn more about the trails on their official NPS websites and social media sites. And make sure if you are heading out to any of these trails, to use the NPS App.

And remember, there are many opportunities for youth and young adults 15-30 years old and veterans 35 years old and younger to work with the National Park Service.

To learn more about these jobs, internships and volunteering opportunities... you can go to www dot nps dot gov slash youth programs.

Thank you for listening!

[music fades]

Ramona Malczynski spent the summer traveling through Northern and Central New Mexico and meeting with many people during her time with the Latino Heritage Internship Program. During summer 2021, she worked as the Latino Historic Trails Partnership Outreach Intern at the National Trails Office of the National Park Service.