New Beginnings New Beginnings
10 August 2022

New Beginnings

Hello everyone! My name is Jackie and I just wrapped up my first month as the new Projects and Communications Fellow for the Partnership Wild & Scenic Rivers (PWSR) based in Springfield, MA! Prior to starting my fellowship with NPS, I was a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

It was an amazing and fruitful, but hard, experience as a first-generation college student. I found so many times where I felt like everyone was speaking a language I wasn’t taught in my upbringing – and they were! Often, I’d struggle to explain my hardships to my family, despite this they still provided me with their unwavering support. One thing that I’ve been so grateful for since starting with PWSR, is how welcoming and kind the folks are that I’ve been working with. Especially with the common understanding that, yes, the lingo and procedures are confusing and complicated, but with time and patience I will grow accustomed to them and they will be second nature to me by the end of my fellowship.

My duty station is at the Springfield Armory National Historic Park. Two of my fellow PWSR staff (shout out Liz and Andrew) are also located there! Its been a fascinating experience thus far to go be located within a building with such an interesting history. Since the pandemic began, I’ve been missing an office environment – especially during the writing stage of my Master’s thesis. Of course, being able to work from home is a luxury and I love spending time with my sweet cat, Luna, but there’s something about an office environment (and potentially a lack of social media) that I find beneficial to my productivity. The greatest contributing factor, I believe, was the ability to lean over and ask my colleague a quick simple question that isn’t big enough for a meeting. In addition to growing accustomed to PWSR lingo, I’ve also loved hearing stories from the Armory staff and hearing little historical facts in my spare time.

One of the best parts of the past month, I think, have been the site visits I’ve been able to go on. On my second day I was able to join my site supervisor, Liz, on a meeting with Eversource and local Lower Farmington River council representatives at the actual river! It was eye-opening to see the community come out for a conversation. Likewise, recently, I was able to join another PWSR staff, Andrew, on a site visit along the Westfield River watershed. A committee member had mapped out where all Japanese Knotweed sites were and we drove around identifying them all and thinking through potential remedies. While I went to school for environmental science and environmental conservation, my plant and tree ID skills are still very weak (the best I have is i-Naturalist!). I have never thought so much about invasive species, nor took the time to identify them at all! I was in awe at how knowledgeable the committee members were with not only where the invasive species were but also the detriment they could cause to local ecosystems and the river. Looking forward, I’m excited to continue taking part in the office environment and going out into the field, in addition to the aspects of my work plan. Stay tuned :)

Agency: National Park Service

Program: Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program (COR)

Location: Rivers, Trails Conservation Assistance Program - Boston Field Office

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