I am a little late writing this blog - but I think for good reason. I’ve spent the last three months working hard to improve the office of outdoor recreation’s internal communication strategy and foster a community among NPS staff. I’ve become the manager for an internal newsletter to NPS staff and launched a webinar series that features outdoor recreation experts and practitioners.
In addition to work, I’ve been working on my application for grad school. I’m applying to study for my master’s in landscape architecture, a passion I learned during my fellowship and something I would have never thought I would be doing a year ago. I finally finished the arduous process this week.
Despite being on my computer in my little Washington, D.C. apartment for most of this time period, I learned a bounty of important life lessons. Overwhelmingly, creativity is something that is desperately needed. National parks are facing problems they’ve never faced before, like overwhelming visitor numbers and depleted natural resources. At the same time, the NPS is approaching problems that are centuries old, like inequity in visitation demographics and creating more accessible parks for people of all abilities.
The truth is that what got us to this point in time will not get us where we want to be. Creative, out-of-the-box solutions are essential to solving the problems of today. But creativity is not something that just shows up one day. My application for grad school asked for a portfolio of work that demonstrated my creative process, which is something I had never thought about. Creating this portfolio demonstrated how much work goes into thinking of an idea, validating it, and finishing a tangible outcome. Creativity is a muscle that you have to exercise, and something that you can get infinitely better at with time.
I’ve been painting for 10 years and making art for much longer. Looking back, I can see my art and creative process shift and grow from when I started as a freshman in high school. My final products have become boundlessly better, not only technically, but they are more thoughtful, original, and interesting.
My fellowship has taught me to exercise that same muscle in the realm of outdoor recreation and the problems at hand. Throughout the seven months, I’ve had the privilege to be in this position, I have learned that the creative solution is not always right, but it is important to say out loud - it might spark an idea in someone else. I’m still cultivating my creative process in the workplace, but it is something I’m excited to work on as I continue working with my team. Creativity is an incredibly important skill that everyone should take time to be mindful of and let run wild - who knows what your ideas could lead you to.
Agency: National Park Service
Program: Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program (COR)
Location: Washington Office Region 1