Adventure in the Everglades with Denise Diaz
During my time at Everglades National Park, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to be thrust into the fast-paced and amazing world of environmental education. The programs that this park has features are beyond anything I’ve ever seen or been able to be apart of before. The staff and park personnel that plan, organize, and execute the programs, both in Shark Valley and Royal Palm, are efficient, kind, and effective in their mission. Being able to be an intern in the midst of all of these wonderful programs has been nothing short of incredible. I’ve been able to learn how much planning and preparation goes into environmental education programs in order for them to be as amazing and life-changing as they are here. This included being shown different computer programs and databases that I had never used previous to my internship. While I can honestly say that this isn’t my favorite part of a job, it certainly gave me a new perspective and appreciation for the workload and effort that must go into each and every project, no matter how big or small it may be. My supervisor has been so thorough and kind to ensure that I have the resources needed to succeed during my internship, including the continuous and seemingly endless repair on my government issued smart card to access my work computer. In addition to the administrative work, I’ve also been able to shadow programs and finally lead some of my own! In Shark Valley, we have a program for 4th graders that incorporates science, social studies, and other curriculum based information into a 16-mile tram ride around the park. I’ve been able to gradually move up from shadowing to being able to comfortably lead some programs with other park rangers. My first trip was with my mom’s class, which was so special. In addition to this, I’ve attended several safety trainings, seasonal employee trainings, and teacher workshops. I’ve assisted in the coordination of the teacher workshops, which are workshops that teachers must attend prior to bringing their class to either Royal Palm or Shark Valley.One lesson that I’ve learned while being an intern through the NPS is that if someone asks me if I can do something, I shouldn’t ever say no (unless, of course, it’s unsafe). I say this because I’ve been hesitant at times to say yes, but I always have. After I’ve gone through with what they asked me to do, I have never once regretted it. I have learned so much about the National Park Service, Environmental Education, and myself by saying yes and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I have to admit that before my internship, I was not very comfortable speaking on the phone or pushing myself to speak to people I don’t recognize.I consider myself so blessed to have this internship, because I now know that I can do so much more than I ever envisioned. I’ve honestly loved working with the rangers within the Everglades, simply because they obviously enjoy what they’re doing. It’s their excitement and energy that is pushing me to be the best intern I can be and learn and experience as much as I possibly can. I’ve also been able to speak to rangers within other divisions, including botany. I’ve been able to speak to several rangers about what they recommend that I do after my time during this internship is done, and I’ve received some wonderful advice that I will certainly pursue once the time comes.