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Conservation Diaries

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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: Kia Hill, Storyteller of Black History and Administrator



Nicole: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Conservation Diaries, a National Park Service podcast. I am your host, Nicole Segnini. In these new episodes we are highlighting current young National Park Service employees who were once interns, fellows, volunteers, or part of a specialized program.

There are many ways young people can get involved with the National Park Service. And sometimes these youth programs may help you jumpstart your career as a full-time employee with the National Park Service.

We caught up with some employees who have made this jump to hear about their experiences and the advice they have for young people.

Our latest guest is Kia Hill, who I spoke with via videoconference. She is from the small town of Greensboro, Alabama, and majored in Business Administration with a concentration in Management at Concordia College Alabama.

When she was a junior there was a moment where she considered changing her college career path... until an interesting opportunity came along.

Kia: And so my advisor got word of it and he was like, "oh gosh, no, no, no, no. I'm going to get you an internship." And I was like, "okay, cool."

Nicole: And that internship was at the National Park Service with the Greening Youth Foundation, one of our partners.

Since 2009, Greening Youth Foundation has worked with the National Park Service to provide meaningful, interesting, and challenging career pathways to young people from diverse backgrounds. The Foundation’s interns serve in every capacity of resource management across the different National Park Service sites, from cultural resources and interpretation to biological sciences, engineering, business, and more.

Kia became a cultural resource intern for the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. Before this internship, Kia didn’t know much about the National Park Service. But she told me that since day one, she was all in.

Kia: I fell in love with telling the story about the voting rights movement. I fell in love with talking to different people and from all over the world. I mean the story itself is so rich and it's so fulfilling, and I really enjoyed it. I did a lot of research. I worked on a lot of projects. I met tons of celebrities [laughs]. So yeah, it was mind blowing. It was a mind-blowing experience, and I am super grateful to have had that experience.

‏‏‎Nicole: The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail commemorates the people, events, and route of the 1965 Voting Rights March in Alabama. Visitors can learn about this history and trace the events of these marches along the 54-mile trail.

Kia’s job was to interpret the site’s themes to visitors. And she told me the most rewarding part was being able to connect with them.

Kia: I have a friend from Wisconsin, she's my friend now. She came down to the trail in 2017 and she was crying as I was telling her the story. I console her and gave her a tissue and we've been friends since 2017 and we write each other, email each other. And I feel like that's what it's about. It's about making that connection with people when you're telling a story, whatever you're doing within your internship. For me, it was connecting, making that connection with people.

Nicole: After Kia completed her internship, which she did while also attending college, she was able to get her Public Land Corps hours. The noncompetitive hiring authority can help you get a foot on the door of federal jobs.

After she graduated from college in 2018 Kia received a call, on her birthday, offering her a job as a park guide at the same site she had fallen in love with.

So, she began working at Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, full-time.

During her time at the historic trail, as both an intern and a park guide, Kia saw the importance of telling these stories, of crucial moments in America’s history, and especially having a Black woman doing so. She told me she felt empowered to go harder and continue to be a truthful storyteller. She believes everyone should learn about Black history from the achievements, contributions, and historical journeys of Black people and their central role in US history, to the complex and painful stories and events.

Kia: These are events that happened. These events are real, and these events happened not too long ago. And we have to not forget that these events happened because it's a part of our history and it's vital to us. And I feel like if you don't tell these stories, you will forget... For instance, I have, or I had, young kids, students from elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, they would come in and let me know that they're not being taught this in school. Ans so that right there made me feel like, okay, I need to, I have to, what else can I do? What else can I do to inform these kids about the history that took place? That is so important to me, that is so important to me.

Nicole: Kia thinks that while our job at the National Park Service is to preserve and protect the sites and the history, it also our jobs to be truthful when telling these stories and to be genuine.

Kia believes it’s vital that the National Park Service continues to work hard to become more inclusive and diverse. She told me there should be more people like her in these spaces, in these jobs, because it is important for them to be those storytellers, to be able to tell their story and make sure nothing is left behind.

She also told me she felt compelled to become a role model for young Black kids, so they can see themselves represented in the National Park Service.

Kia: I remember I did this event in Selma, this Jubilee event. And there was an African American family that approached me, and they told me, "I've never seen a Black park ranger before. And my daughter would like to take a picture with you." And I was like, "of course," and that really touched my heart. And it made me think that, okay, what can I do to increase diversity, inclusion, equity, all that good stuff? Yeah, so, that also put a fire under me too, by attending career fairs, internship fairs, talking in the community with our peers, attending friend group meetings. That is our job to connect with these communities. We want to see more people of color in the Park Service. So, it's like, okay, what can I do? What can we do to increase this?

I mean. You can be whatever you want to be, in this world, in this life. You can be whatever you want to be. And I think it's important for young Black kids to see me in this uniform, in this Park Service, because I'm that kid. You know, they can be me as well. And I feel like for me, it's my job to do whatever I can to get them in here. It's my job to leave these doors open for them to walk through because somebody left the door open for me to walk through.

Nicole: Right now, Kia is in a different role at two of the newest parks in the National Park System. She is the secretary for the superintendent at both the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and Freedom Riders National Monument located in Alabama.

The Freedom Riders National Monument includes the former Greyhound Bus Station located where segregationists attacked a bus carrying civil rights activists known as “Freedom Riders” in May of 1961. It also includes the spot six miles away on the side of the highway where they firebombed the hobbled bus and attempted to trap the Freedom Riders inside of it.

The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument which was established in 2017, features roughly four city blocks in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, where a lot of young Black youth participated in civil rights protesting during the 1950s and 60s.

Kia: So, a lot of prominent figures like Dr., I'm sorry, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Dr. King, they were at the A.G. Gaston Motel. So that's our site, that is currently closed right now. They held meetings there. They strategized there and worked on Project C. It's a lot of rich history here in Birmingham, Alabama, and we are excited about opening soon. It's important for people to come out and view this history to see the A.G. Gaston Motel, because this happened not too long ago. And it's super, super vital for people to learn about. And like I said before, some of this history is not in history books for kids to learn about. However, it is our job to tell these stories and to make sure they learn about it for all ages. For all ages. It's a true gem to the city of Birmingham.

Nicole: As an administrator Kia moves and transfer funds. She handles record management, which includes ensuring that the essential records are organized and maintained so that they can easily be retrieved. She also designates a record copy of each document, product, or other record and keep it in an official file. She handles property management and fleet, does employees’ timecards making sure everyone gets paid, and more. Administration supports everything. It provides resources, funding, logistics, and the behind-the-scenes work that allows a park to run smoothly and conservation to happen.

Kia: I love my job. When I got here last year, I literally did not want to go home. I enjoyed it so much. And at first it was a little difficult for me to adjust doing administration work because I did interpretation for so long. And I was talking to people every single day and on my feet every single day, versus me being at work behind a computer, it was a little hard to adjust. But I have amazing mentors that coach me through these new systems that I work with every single day. And I have amazing colleagues that I get to see every single day. And I'm telling you, I really enjoy it. I truly enjoy my job.

Nicole: Kia will continue to tell these key stories of Black history, of American history and be a role model for Black youth. She also has some advice for young people, especially from underrepresented communities, and that is to have faith in their skills and know that their voices matter and are needed in both the conservation field and the National Park Service.

Kia: For me, I feel like it's about us getting out there and getting into the communities, going to the career fairs, going to the high schools, that's our target audience. So, it's about informing them about the Park Service and asking them what they want to do in life and letting them know that you can do interpretation, administration, facility management, project management...

And honestly, apply...apply to those jobs. My mentor, I remember, he was like, "never feel like you don't possess the knowledge or capability skills for this job. Always apply." I was like, "OK." [laughs]. You know, apply! That's what I would tell them. Make sure you apply. I don't care what the job is. If you're interested, apply! You never know what may happen.

Nicole: Find out more online about the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument at About the Freedom Riders National Monument at And about the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail at These sites preserve and highlight the untold stories and remarkable stories of African Americans in history, stories that we all should learn about.

And remember, in these new episodes of Conservation Diaries, we are highlighting young National Park Service staff, like Kia, whose National Park Service journeys started as volunteers, fellows, interns, or as part of a special program.

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

Thank you for listening!

Meet Kia Hill, the secretary for the superintendent of Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and the Freedom Riders National Monument in Alabama. Before landing this job, Kia was an intern and a park ranger at Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. Learn more about Kia’s journey to the National Park Service and her passion for storytelling and being a role model for Black youth.

Conservation Diaries: Subria Spencer, Promoting National Parks as Public Health Resources



Nicole: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Conservation Diaries, a National Park Service podcast. I am your host, Nicole Segnini. In these new episodes we are highlighting current young National Park Service employees who were once interns, fellows, volunteers, or part of a specialized program.

There are many ways young people can get involved with the National Park Service. And sometimes these youth programs can help you jumpstart your career as a full-time employee of the National Park Service.

We caught up with some employees who have made this jump to hear about their experiences and their advice for young people.

Today’s guest is Subria Spencer, an Auburn, Alabama native. She went to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, UAB, where she got her bachelor's in public health. She ultimately wanted to help communities achieve better health outcomes by providing access to basic resources. Subria focused much of her time during and after completing school on looking into local food environments, the issues that surround them, and identifying solutions to provide increased access to fresh, affordable options.

Subria: I really kind of only imagined myself being in that kind of sustainability food realm. I'm very passionate about helping people meet those very basic needs in life. If we don't have food, if we don't have those things, like we can't function.

Nicole: Subria had a unique journey to the National Park Service. And while her role here might not focus specifically on food, it does focus on looking at other aspects of an individual’s overall health and wellbeing.

This focus started back in 2017 when Subria was selected to be part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—or CDC’s—Public Health Associate Program. This two-year training program selects candidates to help address public health gaps at local, state, federal, or even tribal organizations across the US and its territories.

Subria was originally placed in the US Virgin Islands working with the USVI Department of Health right after Hurricanes Maria and Irma, but due to the rapidly changing environment, Subria was relocated to DC with the National Park Service Office of Public Health. And, needless to say, she was surprised.

Subria: I knew nothing about the park service. I'm sure I had visited sites and probably been to parks but didn't realize that there was an agency responsible really for managing sites or managing monuments, different units... Definitely did not know that there was an Office of Public Health. [laughs] This is a quite, a very niche sort of job and sort of role.

Nicole: As a CDC Public Health Associate, her role involved helping the Office of Public Health coordinate and facilitate a wide variety of projects. One of her responsibilities was to identify, track, and ultimately help prevent the spread of certain diseases that might exist in the parks, in particular tick-related illnesses.

Subria: I came and I was doing just because there was a need because I don't have a communications background, but because there was a need to better communicate what's happening in the office and connect with new partners, that's the work that I was doing. And I was able to get experience doing some epi related work. So, over the summer of 2018, I helped with tick drags in parks. So that was kind of my first time out a national park. I had been in national parks, but as a National Park Service fellow-CDC person, I'm now like looking for ticks in parks and helping to collect them. And I had never seen a tick before. So I'm going through all of the things, like how to identify them. So, I was doing a lot of that work.

Nicole: In addition to that work, Subria was instrumental in helping the Office of Public Health improve their methods of communication by developing an external website and revamping their internal site. She also worked alongside Greening Youth [Foundation] interns to help create and facilitate programs through Your Park! Your Health!, an initiative committed to building community relationships, promoting healthy lifestyles, inspiring connectivity with nature and establishing a sense of belonging in parks.

After completing her assignment with the CDC program, she was hired as the Deputy Liaison and Communication and Education Specialist for the National Park Service in the Office of Public Health.

She told me it was in part thanks to the help and trust she had gained from both the Director of the Office of Public Health, Captain Sara Newman, and the Deputy Director, Sonya Coakley.

Subria: Both of them very focused on people first, very focused on trying to create opportunities if they can, to further knowledge, to help people continue to excel in their career, move forward in their career. And so, Sonya really worked hard to create a position for me to actually stay and be hired on officially within the office.

Nicole: And while this was a unique way for Subria to join the National Park Service full-time, because it depended on her host site and funds, she did tell me something else that helped her with her federal application was having done AmeriCorps VISTA. That’s a year-long volunteer program that allows members to earn federal non-competitive hiring eligibility at the completion of their service, giving members an edge in the federal hiring process.

Subria: Which I don't know how many people know about that. I think even offices may not know. Oh, AmeriCorps is an entity that I should look for when I'm thinking about individuals that could potentially be hired into the National Park Service. When I'm looking for those skill sets, you know, those are individuals, and you don't have a set background going into AmeriCorps. Some people may have been writers or done communications or science backgrounds, math backgrounds. It's really a variety. So, it is really a good place to look and consider for offices that are looking for more pathways.

Nicole: Subria has become a champion of public parks and their positive impact on health. She believes our health, wellbeing, finding happiness, and being connected to nature are all essential to our life.

The Office of Public Health is responsible for protecting, promoting, and advancing health in national parks. It functions like an internal health department, providing agency specific public health capability through disease surveillance and response, on site evaluation and hazard analysis, consultation on parks systems and even policy guidance. OPH professionals also assist park superintendents and land managers in promoting the positive health benefits of nature.

In her role, she leads and coordinates communications and education efforts to advance the goals of all programs within the office and helps to elevate the important partnership with the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

Subria: When we're stressed, you know, when we need a break from life... we take vacations, we go to the beach, we go outside, we go for a hike, we want to stand in the sun, we want to feel the trees, we want to touch water. And so, I think being able to just do that work in my everyday job is just really cool because it's like ‘ok how can I best engage this particular community in a park or in a space and a green space that is close to them or that they have access to?’ You know, what can I do to say, ‘Hey, your culture, everything that you're engaged in is important and you can do that in a park and you can enjoy all of the things that you love in these spaces because they are your spaces.’

Nicole: Subria also told me that a big and important aspect of her job is to promote the health and well-being of diverse populations. She wants to make sure we are redefining the perception of national parks as havens of inclusion and making sure people from historically marginalized communities can find a sense of belonging at national parks.

She has been part of projects that focus on opening dialogues around equity, health, healing, and wellness. She was also a producer of the Twenty & Odd National Park Service short film, which serves as a tool to inform, highlight, and educate the nation on the trauma, resilience, and beauty of the African American experience in this country.

Subria told me there’s still a lot to be done, and conversations to be had, to be able to truly represent everyone within the National Park Service, and make sure everyone can feel welcomed and enjoy their national parks.

Subria: We can only be truly effective when our agency really resembles the makeup of America. We understand that there is not one type of person, one type of community, one type of thought, one type of food, one type of culture... You know, really America is a mix of so many different beautiful things. And so unless that is represented in the agency, we're not going to be effective in trying to engage new people, quote unquote in the park, to reach new audiences. We can't do that if we don't have individuals that are connected to those communities and that represent those audiences. We just can't. You know, that's just bottom line. We just can’t. We're never going to be effective unless we're able to do that.

And I think when we look at issues of climate change, when we look at issues of mental health, when we look at health in general, overall wellbeing, the individuals that are being impacted the most are the same communities that have been historically marginalized from these green spaces, from recreational activities, from the ability to engage with themselves and to learn about themselves through nature. And so it's just critical that we are hiring and also working to ensure that what we're doing here is really reflective of what society, what America, what our communities need.

Nicole: Progress is made when there is a flow of new ideas and new ways of engaging on these issues. Subria also told me it is essential to continue engaging with the youth to be able to achieve change and progress.

Subria: I think there really is more work to be done, especially when it comes to promoting existing programs and also more work to be done when it comes to thinking about innovative ways to reach new people. And also understanding that even if you don't come from this rich conservation background, you don't know all there is to know about the science and water testing and whatever it is we say that you need to have for park service, that there's so many other skills and so much other knowledge that exists out there that we need.

We need new thoughts. We need new minds. We need people that are going to think about the issues in a different way, that are going to come to the conservation table and think about a new way to maintain a certain species in parks or to focus on how we're addressing invasive plants. You know, we need those new thoughts at the table.

Nicole: You can learn more about the Office of Public Health and what they do online at And you can also find out more about how you can connect your health to the health of our natural world on our site about ‘health and safety.’

In these new episodes of Conservation Diaries, we are highlighting young National Park Service staff, like Subria, whose NPS journeys started as volunteers, fellows, interns, or as part of a special program.

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

Thank you for listening!

[Music fades]

Meet Subria Spencer, a public health professional serving as Deputy Liaison and Communication Specialist for the National Park Service Office of Public Health in Washington, DC. Find out more about her interesting and unique journey to the National Park Service and why she is passionate about diversity and promoting national parks as public health resources.

Conservation Diaries: Olf Mouyaka, Advocating for Youth Programs, Volunteering, and Urban Parks



Nicole: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Conservation Diaries, a National Park Service podcast. I am your host, Nicole Segnini. In these new episodes we are highlighting current young National Park Service employees who were once interns, fellows, volunteers, or part of a specialized program.

There are many ways young people can get involved with the National Park Service. And sometimes these youth programs can help you jumpstart your career as a full-time employee of the National Park Service.

We caught up with some employees who have made this jump to hear about their experiences and their advice for young people.

Today we are hearing from Olf Mouyaka, who is originally from the Republic of Congo and came here when he was 16 years old, settling with his siblings in Lowell, Massachusetts. Like many immigrants he faced challenges, such as learning a new language, cultural practices, and dealing with a much different climate.

Olf: We got here in September. And September is fall, people are still wearing shorts here. They are still hanging out like it’s summer. And I remember just being so cold, just like freezing and thinking ‘this is the worst of it’ like it's never like.. I don’t like this, it's so cold... and then everyone was telling me like ‘Well winter is not here yet but it's coming, you know’ then I was like ‘it gets worse than this?’ Then every year since I've been like I got to move, I gotta move... 12 years I'm still here [laughs].

Nicole: Olf’s journey to the National Park Service began back when he was a sophomore at Lowell High School.

That’s when he met a park ranger from Lowell National Historical Park who had gone to his school for a career fair. At the time, Olf wanted to start working but didn’t want a stressful job and he thought the park could be a good option, so he applied for a volunteer position and began working at the park’s visitor center’s front desk.

After volunteering for a little while, he became part of Lowell Spindle City Corps, a program that offers opportunities for local high school youth to participate in the Trades Skills, Summer Maintenance and Community Action Team programs at the park. He spent two summers helping paint fences, cut weeds, and more maintenance projects throughout the park. He also helped set up and break down the famous Lowell Folk Festival, an experience he says was unforgettable.

While volunteering for Lowell National Historical Park, Olf was surprised to learn that there were so many different types of national parks and that they included urban parks. But as he continued volunteering at the park, he started learning more about the National Park Service and about his new home.

Olf: Like the textile industry was big here. You get to learn about you know, slavery, African American history, and all those things and how even in the park that doesn't have any of the pieces on the arrowhead, a park can still be a park. Then I just started to fall in love with learning about where I was from, ‘cause then I was now from Lowell. I lived in Lowell, I wanted to know everything about it. And this was the place that knew everything about the city.

Nicole: Before college he had the opportunity to join the Mass Parks Student Career Intake Program or SCIP, which has since been discontinued, and provided career training for local youth from urban and underserved communities in Massachusetts. He was able to visit many national parks in the area and was exposed to different careers at the National Park Service. Olf says the program helped him realize that he wanted to stick around.

So, after he joined Merrimack College to study international business and French, Olf came back every summer to work as a seasonal park guide at Lowell.

Olf: After I became a seasonal, I saw a real opportunity to become a park ranger, to put on a uniform and hopefully make a career out of it. I think after I became a seasonal, I was like alright, like this is an actual option right. This is an option. It's something that I can do. Not that I'm great at it but it was like I could see that there are things that I'm good at, that are being asked for and that that are needed of me and I can bring them in so then I decided to pursue it.

Nicole: While he was a seasonal, he became a community volunteer ambassador where he helped connect the community to their volunteers.

Through this public-private partnership between the National Park Service and Stewards Individual Placement Program, interns spend a year at a national park while strengthening the bonds between communities and parks and expanding service-learning and volunteer opportunities. He also trained some of the volunteers and helped them develop skills for public speaking, problem solving, networking, and more.

After he completed the program, he was eligible for the Public Lands Corps noncompetitive hiring authority, a special hiring status which makes it easier for you to apply for a full-time federal job.

Olf: And so I was told ‘yep once you do this, there’s a much higher chance for you to become a seasona, or to become a permanent employee’ and so I did that.

Nicole: This is how Olf became a park guide at New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park in Massachusetts, where he helps maintain the website and make social media posts at times; he also works at the visitor center and helps with the volunteer programs. However, his biggest project is a summer camp called “Something Fishy Camp.” The two-week program is for kids in the 4th grade going into 5th and it teaches them about marine science and New Bedford’s history.

He told me his favorite things about working at historical and urban parks are the communities which they are a part of, the stories he is able to tell, and the connections he continues to make.

Olf: Here like the summer camp is great. The fact that, you know, I can see these kids in the summer and maybe walk the streets, you know, downtown in here, hey, often I like what's up, and you look around, it's a kid that you had at the camp like that connection there. I enjoyed that part of it that like, I don't want to be foreign. Like I don't want it to be that I see them once and I'll probably never see them again. And that happens when you get visitors from overseas and whatnot... But the community aspect of it is what I enjoy. Maybe selfishly, it's because I've only worked at parts that are urban parks right, they are in the city. They're small, and you work with people. But that that I think is probably my favorite.

And the New Bedford history is incredible on its own. Whaling history I didn't know much about before I came here. I knew about the Underground Railroad by I didn't know that Frederick Douglass lived in New Bedford for two years and three years before he went on with his life. But, you know, we all know about Frederick Douglass, but to then be part of that story and be able to say, ‘I live where the man lived, like I walked the streets that he walked.’ I go you know, I can go into a church where you give a speech. So, some of those things, I think, make a place special and to be able to tell that story and I know not everybody gets to do that. But in my uniform I get to see that and do that so that's incredible to me, but um the community aspect of it is what makes it exciting for me I'd say.

Nicole: Olf wants to inspire people, especially young black and immigrant kids, to follow their passion. He wants to be there for them, tell them about his experiences and empower them to contribute to their communities.

He also wants to make sure our communities, regardless of their race, ethnicity or religion, know that national parks belong to them and that they too can enjoy and have an important role in helping to protect these beautiful places.

Olf: For young people who don't see themselves represented, I'd say, they shouldn't think that they can't be the representation, that they can't start it, right. Like, I didn't see many Black people at Lowell, I didn't think to myself that I couldn't be the Black person at Lowell that then people look out for. I think it is easier when you see someone that looks like you, speaks and sounds like you to be able to connect and even be more comfortable to ask the questions. I think that helps. But I think the drive and desire in me and the background in me and the culture in me, and where I come from and how I was raised reminds me that in places where there's no one who looks like me, I can still be that person who then looks like me and creates an opportunity for maybe someone else. So out of my story, and you know, whatever this highlight is, I hope that people can see that. And I think my advice to those young people who don't see people who look like them or sound like them, who aren't of their background, that they can become that person that they can start... That if they don’t think it’s possible that honestly, they can be the person to do it.

Nicole: Olf’s National Park Service’s journey started as a volunteer, and that is something he is still very passionate about. His advice for young people who want to start volunteering at national parks, or just volunteering overall, is to just go for it!

Olf: I think often times people say I don't have time, like that’s the biggest thing ‘I don’t have time, I can’t make the time’ but like when is it ever time? So, I think it comes down to desire. And I hope that in conversations I can show someone that hey, it's we want you to be a part of it and I think wanting to create a collective where if somebody is thinking about volunteering, reminding them that we need them... like I need you to be able to do this like I can't do it with that without you. The project however big it, you know, it is, or small, one person can do it, two people will probably do it better, three people could do it even better. So, creating that connection and reminding people that it only happens if we all do it. And hopefully spark something in them that says ‘I think I wanna do it’. And that’s my two-minute speech on ‘hey, you should volunteer.’”

Nicole: From a volunteer to a youth program intern, to a seasonal, to a community volunteer ambassador intern, and finally a permanent employee... Olf has done it all at the National Park Service, yet his journey is just beginning.

Right now, Olf is on a temporary assignment at First State National Historical Park in Delaware, working as an Education Technician. He is helping to prepare a program called " Saving the Past, Shaping the Future",” which brings nearly 500 4th graders to the park where they get to enjoy a full day of educational hands-on interactive activities from various local Delaware organizations.

He is happy that he is helping at a park that also cares about community, youth development and stewardship. And where he can continue to help people understand why these historical sites are so important.

Olf: right like, a courthouse can just be taken down and a new one can be built but the challenge of convincing them [people] that this one should stay, that this one has more meaning, that challenge is what excites me about working at urban parks and those places because the average person walks in and says ‘well this is just another building’ but why should I care about it? That often is the question, right? Like ‘why am I interested?’ [laughs]

Nicole: You can learn more about the parks Olf has been working at on for New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park,, for First State National Historical Park.. And finally,, for Lowell National Historical Park.

And remember, in these new episodes of Conservation Diaries, we are highlighting young National Park Service staff members, like Olf, whose National Park Service journeys started as volunteers, fellows, interns, or as part of a specialized program.

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

Thank you for listening!

[Music fades]

Meet Olf Mouyaka, a park guide at New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, who has also worked at Lowell National Historical Park and First State National Historical Park. From a volunteer to a youth program participant to a seasonal and finally a full-time employee, learn more about Olf’s incredible journey to the National Park Service.

Conservation Diaries: Leiann De Vera, Educator and Promoter of Community Engagement



Nicole: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Conservation Diaries, a National Park Service podcast. I am your host, Nicole Segnini. In these new episodes we are highlighting current young National Park Service employees who were once interns, fellows, volunteers, or part of a specialized program.

There are many ways young people can get involved with the National Park Service. And sometimes these youth programs may help you jumpstart your career as a full-time employee with the National Park Service.

We caught up with some employees who have made this jump to hear about their experiences and the advice they have for young people.

Today we are hearing from Lei De Vera, who is Filipino American born and raised in San Diego, California. She got her bachelor's in environmental science and resource management at California State University Channel Islands. At first Lei didn’t really know if she wanted to go to college or just continue working, since she was going to be the first one in her family to attend college and she also didn’t know exactly what she wanted to study.

Lei: I kind of found out when it was college app time, ‘oh, I'm a low-income person and I get free college applications.’ So, I did the farthest, cheapest... I applied to a bunch for free. I knew if I stayed in San Diego, I would have done engineering, but I was like, you know, ‘what is my favorite AP class?’ And it happened to be environmental science. So, I was like, ‘alright, maybe this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.’

Nicole: When Lei started going to college, she thought at first, she only wanted to focus on studying. But she told me that after her first semester, she got bored. She wanted to find either a job or an internship to keep her entertained.

She wasn’t originally going to do work with the National Park Service. In fact, she didn’t really know much about the agency nor national parks overall. But during one of her classes one of her professors told them about a National Park Service gig. And Lei thought it wouldn’t hurt to check it out, since it was a paid position, and she was going to get college credits for it.

Lei: I shot my shot. I was like, I don’t have any... The only job experience I had was that SeaWorld San Diego stuff and that was nothing towards my educational stuff at all... And now it seemed like it was justifiable for me to apply to that internship just because I was like, alright, this is like environmental stewardship, inspiring like future generations... Seeing if me working with kids is something I might enjoy or like, and I was like, this is pretty cool. This is pretty alright, they are small, its fun! [laughs]

Nicole: The internship was at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California. It was a multi-diverse youth teaching assistant internship program under the Student Conservation Association, or SCA, and it was partnership between the university and the park.

The Student Conservation Association, or SCA, is a national resource conservation organization. SCA provides volunteers of all backgrounds and educational levels with conservation service internships and volunteer opportunities in national parks, national forests, and other public lands.

This was her first internship at the park, and she worked at the Education Division, aiding in community outreach and EKiP (Every Kid in the Parks) programs. The last one is now called Every Kid Outdoors and it aims to create opportunities for 4th graders to experience their federal public lands and waters.

Lei: So, like, when I would do education programs, my biggest thing was that I could physically see the change in a shift or in a child's attitude towards public lands and environmental stewardship or whatever the program curriculum was for. And that's something that I really like, seeing the inspiration and spark in their eyes, being that astonishing wow factor, especially in a national park.

Nicole: Lei did this for about a year and a half and right after that she was offered yet another internship. This time, doing interpretation instead.

Through both internships Lei was able to gain the skills and experiences to become a Community Volunteer Ambassador, or CVA.

Through this public-private partnership between the National Park Service and Stewards Individual Placement Program, CVA interns help strengthen the bonds between communities and parks and expand service-learning and volunteer opportunities.

Lei spearheaded interesting and engaging volunteer programming during her time as a CVA intern, which she did for almost three years. She did so much... from helping the volunteer coordinator in either assisting with volunteer logistics, entering hours into the database, figuring out volunteer appreciation picnics to doing volunteering, parks programming, inventory, and taking the lead on some of the programs and projects.

Lei: Every day was very different with the community volunteer position. Like one day it'll be like, oh, doing restoration with Disney, doing trail maintenance with Starbucks, doing just a regular monthly scheduled volunteer opportunity at the native plant nursery... I remember when I first came on in 2019 that after our biggest fire in 2018, the Woosley fire. So, a lot of the volunteerism stuff that was going on during that time was post fire trail maintenance, trail work, you know, fire management, fire ecology. And it honestly a shift with COVID too. So, there was virtual engagement.

One of the things I got to start was it was called Santa Monica Mountains Zoom Speaker Series. We did it for, I think a whole year. We would have speakers, either park staff, volunteers, interns, and then other parks and other agencies, other partners coming together and doing pretty much a one hour, a one-to-one-and-a-half-hour speaker series and presentation. And we would use that for volunteer virtual engagement and enrichment and training hours.

Nicole: Lei and other staff and volunteers from Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, as well as Cabrillo National Monument, and Channel Islands National Park - who were part of this Volunteer Virtual Education Initiative—won a Volunteer Program award during the 2020 George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service. The Hartzog awards are given annually to recognize the exemplary contributions NPS volunteers make to their park and to their community.

In 2021 she was able to apply for a full-time park ranger position at the park where she does a variety of things. One day she’s at the visitor center, another day she’s doing an education program or a restoration volunteer event.

Lei: And it's kind of interesting, it's been a mix of education, interpretation, volunteering, parks, and programming. So, it's been a lot of what I've done since I started, combined throughout the years till now. So, it's great that I get to do all of everything that I've done since the beginning.

Nicole: So far Lei has been at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area since 2016. And she loves it. The park is big and offers easy access to wild places. You can experience the famous beaches of Malibu or explore more than 500 miles of trails. And the park also abounds with historical and cultural sites, from old movie ranches to Native American centers. So, there’s so much to learn about and explore.

Lei has always been an outdoors kind of person, but she didn’t really visit many national parks growing up, and it never crossed her mind to work at one.

Lei: That seemed more of a luxury, like a privilege to do. So before the whole college thing, none of that came to my mind and where I am today. [Laughs]

One of the big things she loves about working at the park is the diversity within the workforce. While she is the only Filipino American park ranger, she told me several of her coworkers are people of color and from underrepresented communities. And while she believes there is still a lot to do, she says having a diverse workforce is vital because it helps young people see themselves represented and it might inspire them to pursue careers in the conservation fields or at the National Park Service.

Lei: When I first did education programs, a lot of these education programs are Title One schools, underrepresented youth. They have to come through a grant because they can't afford a school bus. We pay for that. And a lot of these kids, it's their first time being outdoors. It's the first time seeing the ocean. First time seeing the mountains, stuff like that. And it's quite inspiring because especially younger kids, they look up to you and they're like, ‘Okay. She looks kind of just like me. That's pretty cool. Like, okay I shouldn't feel scared.’ Because there is a stigma, especially with green and gray and the uniform. Like ‘I'm not here to give you a ticket. I'm here to give you maps. I'm here to give you directions. I'm here to give you information and knowledge.’

I think it's important because it gives people a chance to see that pretty much their heritage, background, or upbringing shouldn't limit their interest. And that's something I feel like we should touch because we're trying to do the whole community engagement, community outreach, trying to hit a sense of belonging, especially for free public lands and for future generations, that's such a big thing, like not to tokenize anything in terms of being like a model minority or being underrepresented youth, but just having the acknowledgement that there are so many people that are out here that are doing great things who happen to be diverse. And that is something to recognize.

Nicole: Representation also creates more welcoming green spaces overall. Lei says sometimes people from diverse backgrounds feel more comfortable and more at peace with someone who looks, and sounds like them. That’s why she believes the National Park Service should continue striving for more equity and representation within its workforce. Youth programs like the ones Lei was part of are a great way to help bring in more diverse youth to the National Park Service. And she believes it’s important to continue funding and promoting them.

Lei is thankful that she was able to find that first internship when she started college and it is safe to say that she has grown to love education as she continues to make sure kids are learning about the outdoors in every way, from recreating responsibly to learning ways to protect these beautiful places.

Her advice for young people, especially from diverse backgrounds, is to make sure you are trying everything out while you can and to surround yourself with good people that will advocate for you and guide you.

Lei: Me having mentors and mentees and all of that intertwined, very much helped me in how I got here. If it wasn't for people, the community helping me out or people of this workspace to help me out. I don't think I would be in this current position if it wasn't for them.

So, find people to advocate for you. If you have the time and resources, take every opportunity you can to experience things. And you know, honestly, just have fun. For the most part, a lot of this yeah, you get paid for it and it's a job... but I mean, at what cost if it's not going to be fun? Why waste your life in that moment for something you're not going to enjoy? So, don't take it for granted. Have the best time you can, use your resources, take your time. If you have the time, do it and find good people around you that will support you.

Nicole: During the days Lei is not working at the park, she works as an environmental educator for K-12 at the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains.

You can learn more about Lei’s park, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, on their website at

And remember, in these episodes of Conservation Diaries, we are highlighting young National Park Service staff members, like Lei, whose National Park Service journeys started as volunteers, fellows, interns, or as part of a specialized program.

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

Thank you for listening!


Meet Leiann (Lei) De Vera, a park ranger at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California. She started as an intern and then a Community Volunteer Ambassador before becoming a full-time employee at the park. Find out more about her journey and her love for working with young kids.

Conservation Diaries: Evelyn Moreno, Communicating the Importance of Conservation and Outdoor Recreation



Nicole: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Conservation Diaries, a National Park Service podcast. I am your host, Nicole Segnini. In these new episodes we will be highlighting current young National Park Service employees who were once interns, fellows, volunteers, or part of a specialized program.

There are many ways young people can get involved with the National Park Service. And sometimes these youth programs can help you jumpstart your career as a full-time employee of the National Park Service.

We caught up with some employees who have made this jump to hear about their experiences and advice they have for young people.

Today we are hearing from Evelyn Moreno, who was born in Chicago but calls Texas her home. Her parents are both immigrants from Mexico. She went to the University of Texas at Austin where she majored in journalism and minored in geography. Two things she was very passionate about growing up.

Evelyn: I kind of knew that I really wanted to be able to write about the environment, write about environmental issues affecting communities of color, and write about wildlife, all the things that just make me so happy.

Nicole: During college and after graduating, Evelyn did a few internships before landing an opportunity at the National Park Service. She was focusing on writing about things and issues that she is passionate about, such as environmental and social justice and immigration issues.

And then she found an opportunity to do a communications fellowship with the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program, or RTCA. The fellowship was through Hispanic Access Foundation, a partner of the National Park Service that connects people in the Latinx community to opportunities by exposing them to reliable and relevant resources and promoting civic engagement.

Evelyn: So, the fellowship that I did was 11 months. And at the end of it I did get Public Land Corps hiring authority, so I'm really grateful about that. And a few months into my fellowship my boss was like oh, would you want to work here after? And I was like yes, please. Like hello, this is a dream job, honestly. So, I'm grateful that it worked out.

Nicole: During those eleven months, Evelyn wrote articles and produced newsletters highlighting conservation and outdoor recreation projects to help increase the awareness of the RTCA program.

Now, RTCA, the acronym for the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, provides free assistance and helps local communities to move forward in their conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the United States. The program assists communities and public land managers in developing or restoring parks, conservation areas, rivers... And it also helps them create outdoor recreation opportunities and programs to engage future generations in the outdoors.

It is important to note though that the program does not provide financial assistance or monetary grants. RTCA works as a collaborative partner, offering technical assistance through an annual application process that community groups, nonprofit organizations, tribal governments, national parks, and local, state, and federal agencies can apply for.

Evelyn told me an important aspect of her job, and the program itself, is making sure they are increasing outreach efforts to underrepresented communities and communities of color.

Evelyn: One example was, close to New Orleans, there was this community that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina way back when. Louisiana and is always being affected by devastating natural disasters like hurricanes. So we were able to work with this community that had lost a lot of their homes and structures, and creating climate resiliency so that future hurricanes wouldn't completely devastate their community. And this was an underrepresented community, a mostly Black community, and it's just so valuable because these communities need support, and they deserve support, and we're here to give it. So for that and more I think it's really important that we do create a bridge to make it for communities, like make it easier for communities to reach out to us and feel safe, and feel heard, and be able to create the same access to outdoor recreation opportunities that a lot of affluent communities have. Because again, it's a human need and it's what's fair.

Nicole:  After she was hired to work full-time at the National Park Service, she simply continued to do the work she had been doing as a fellow: communicating about the important work they do.  

Her current position is as a writer and editor, and she does everything from writing articles and social media highlights... to writing and releasing a publication that highlights their work a little bit more in depth regarding building healthy communities, conserving lands and waters, supporting public land management collaboration, and more.  

She makes sure to highlight what the program is doing to ensure everyone has safe and equitable access to close-to-home outdoor experiences and places. She combines her passion for writing with her enthusiasm for hearing people’s stories and amplifying the voices of the communities they represent.  

One of the things Evelyn finds the most valuable about being part of RTCA, is the people she works with. 

Evelyn: Literally everyone is a gem, everyone cares so much about working with communities that are underrepresented as well and just helping them you know to create access to outdoor recreation opportunities because it's a human need. It's a basic human need that we want to be able to meet. So, the passion that I see, you know, when I talk with staff about projects is unlike anything I've ever seen, they're always so excited to get new projects and see the successes that their partners are having. Because we work on projects for one to two years and then we're like okay, here you go, here's a plan. You know, hopefully you can implement it, what's your timeline? And then partners follow back up after like three to four years and they're like, ‘we finished building this park, and it's so cool, and the community loves it.’ So honestly, just so valuable, the work that we do obviously is so valuable but the people who make it happen are so great and lovely.

Nicole: While Evelyn didn’t know that this program existed, she also never saw herself working for the federal government. As someone who was studying journalism in college, it just never crossed her mind. Like many, she didn’t know that there were so many different careers to explore at the National Park Service.

Evelyn: Aside from being a park ranger I didn't know what opportunities existed. Like of course, people have to do communications, of course, but I didn't consider it. I was going to journalism school, I was thinking like CNN, and Democracy Now, like magazines. So, when I saw this position, I was like, ‘No way, I literally went to school for this. Let me do it, I love it.’

Nicole: But it was possible, thanks to her fellowship, one of several youth programs opportunities that exist for young diverse people to get involved with the National Park Service.

Evelyn says it is vital that the National Park Service continues to outreach to communities of color and to have more people, especially young people, from these communities join the workforce.

Evelyn: I think it's invaluable to have people of color working in these spaces because, you know, we have unique connections to the natural environment, or we have unique ways of recreating, like carne asadas, or having just different ways of being outdoors. So, we also know for the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, we do a lot of outreach. So having more people of color like me and some colleagues, we were able to recommend to our other colleagues like ‘hey, if you want to work with Latinx communities you have to give them a little bit more time to get comfortable with you, you have to maybe have a little cafecito, talk about the project, make them feel safe, heard.’

So we can offer perspectives that otherwise, who's going to offer them? We offer all these perspectives that can encourage leadership to think about outreach strategies in a new way, to think about conservation efforts in a new way, to think about creating Spanish language materials so that we can get more people coming out and enjoying national parks, local parks, applying for assistance. So yeah, we just provide all these new perspectives that others would probably not think about. And that's because of our background, that's because of our cultura, that's because of us, what makes us.

Nicole: Applying for federal jobs can be tricky, complicated, and tiring. That’s why Evelyn wants young people to know about fellowships like the one she did, because of the help you could get after completing the program.

She has some advice for young people who want to try out a youth program at the National Park Service, or who are already doing one.

The first one, is to look everywhere for opportunities in things you are passionate about, without giving up. And the second one, is to not be afraid to ask for help.

Evelyn: You know, express yourself, and share your passions, and just really be confident in yourself that you can navigate this. It's definitely tricky and scary but again, asking for help is like one of my biggest recommendations because I definitely had to ask, how do I build a federal resume? My resume was one page and then I had to make it be freaking, I had to make it be like 10 pages. I was just like, what the heck, this is insane. So I definitely asked for help there. I asked for help with navigating USA Jobs, everything seems so tricky. But these people definitely are there to help and support you.

Nicole: You can learn more about the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program and how to apply for assistance, at You’ll find out more about the incredible work they do with partners across the country. 

And remember, in these new episodes of Conservation Diaries, we are highlighting young National Park Service employees, like Evelyn, whose National Park Service journeys started as volunteers, fellows, interns, or as part of special programs.

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

Thank you for listening!

[Music fades]

Meet Evelyn Moreno, a Communications Specialist at the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) in Washington, DC. She started as a fellow in the office before becoming a full-time employee. Learn more about her journey to the National Park Service and her passion for making the outdoors accessible for all.

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.