As we approach the end of 2016, I think this is an opportune time to look back on the Centennial year of the National Park Service. It has been a busy year in the parks, with lots of ups and downs. In case you missed them, these are some of the headlines in the NPS from 2016.
As previously covered in an earlier blog, searching the USAjobs website can get confusing. There are hundreds of jobs out there and their job titles might not sound anything like what the position actually entails. Even though you now know how to search for jobs according to their series and grade, you might be thrown off by the jobs that your search comes up with. For the next several months, I am going to be spotlighting specific starter positions within our public lands that you might not necessarily think to apply to. However, these are jobs that you should be applying to, as they offer an excellent foot into the door in the forestry field. This month’s spotlight is on the Education Technician position. While not every park or public land offers this position, it can be a great way to get your foot in the door in our nations biggest parks, especially if you like kids. Special Thanks to Ranger Joshua Contois from Great Smoky Mountains National Park for helping us out with this month’s spotlight!
We take a break this month from our regularly scheduled programming to celebrate something very near and dear to my heart (and most likely yours as well). On August 25th, The National Park Service celebrated 100 years of service. In case you weren’t able to make it out to a park for the day- let me summarize the events across our nation. It was a festive special day, unlike anything our parks have seen before. With free entrance, musical events, instameets, special campfire programs, and free cake: every park offered something special for those guests fortunate enough to be visiting a park on this historic day. We were the google doodle of the day, Facebook featured us their home page and we were the number one trending topic on twitter. Because I am a National Park Service employee, I was lucky enough to receive several gifts –from coworkers, management, and park visitors- to commemorate this special day. These gifts got me thinking about the gifts that our national parks give all of us daily. Gifts that are worth celebrating as the agency which protects them reaches this milestone.
When President Obama visited Yosemite and Carlsbad Caverns this month, he faced a lot of criticism. Some of the complaints were that the timing wasn’t right following the tragedy in Orlando, that his weekend visit interrupted the Father’s Day weekend of too many people in the crowded Yosemite, that he should be focused on more important things than the national parks, and finally that his transportation had a negative environmental impact on these places. Even if every single one of these complaints were absolutely legitimate, Obama’s visit to the parks was still important and still necessary.
Recently, Yellowstone has been the spotlight of many trending headline: the woman petting the bison on opening day, the foreign tourists putting a bison calf in their vehicle because it looked cold, the group of four Canadians walking out on Grand Prismatic Spring, and, even today, a trending headline about an elk charging a woman taking a photo of it. While these headlines can be equal parts amusing and infuriating, they perfectly illustrate the challenges facing our public lands and, in particular, our national parks as they enter the next century.
The National Parks are known to be colorful, from the wildflowers to brilliant sunsets and sunrises to the wide diversity of colorful animals and even to the rainbow colored waters. However, there is one area in which our parks are seriously lacking in color and that is within the people who visit our national treasures. Out of the over 307 million people who visit our parks each year, a surprisingly low percentage of them are minorities. In fact, only 22% of the people who visit the parks identify as non-white. This is a troubling statistic, and it is one that needs to change. But how?
There are many steps that one has to take to land a federal job, from figuring out how to navigate and utilize the not-so-user-friendly website, deciphering which jobs to apply to, putting the right information into your resume, to figuring out exactly how to present yourself when and if you reach the interview stage. It can be so difficult and overwhelming that it scares off many potential applicants. But you don’t need to be one of those people. Over the next few months I will present you with a walk through of the application process and its options that should help you figure out how to navigate the website, utilize the tools, figure out which jobs you should be applying to, and show you how to tailor your resume to specific jobs. All of which should make landing a federal job that much simpler.
After the news of the Federal Budget increase for the National Park Service, several more initiatives have been announced as the NPS undergoes a rebrand in order for their centennial in 2016. They are using their 100th birthday as an opportunity to change the way people think of, view, and visit the national park system. They are presenting the parks to an entirely new audience in order to sustain them for the next 100 years. Studies have shown that although visitation in the parks is up –with 292 million visits in 2014 alone-, the people who are visiting are mostly older Caucasians. Jonathan Jarvis explains that, “If we were a business and that was our clientele, then over the long term, we would probably be out of business.” The two initiatives are part of a major effort by the park service in order to breathe new life into the aging system to carry it in the future.