By Apoorva Mahajan, NPS Academy 2013
This week on Conservation Nation, we're bringing you blog updates from session 2 of NPS Academy 2013. Here, Apoorva Mahajan reflects on his first day at the Academy in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
After an exhausting day (and often night) of travelling to Gatlinburg, TN and settling into the Arrowmont School of Arts and Craft, the SCA NPS Academy moved into full gear. Around 30 SCA orientation go-ers, a host of SCA Peer Mentors and Facilitators, and NPS guides and staff convened and set out for a day at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
First on the day’s itinerary, however, was a hearty breakfast at Arrowmont at 7:30 AM. Matt Kulp introduced himself and his passion for wildlife and all manner of swimming creatures, as well as his own journey in the National Park Service. We then forayed into the Great Smoky Mountains. An hour-long drive on the Cades Cove Loop led us into the heart of the National Park, where we partook in a number of interpretation-based activities. The goal was not only to experience the culture and heritage of the Great Smoky Mountains, but also to orient academy attendees with the ins and outs of interpretation and cultural immersion at the National Parks. Among the activities in which SCA members participated were a tutorial in period blacksmithing, a guided walk through a preserved, late-1800s village, and making our very own pinch pots. Like happy school children, each attendee left with a dinner bell to show for his or her efforts.
A movie viewing and visitor center stop were in order to further expose SCA attendees to the background of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. During the presentation that followed, Dale Ditmanson, Superintendent of the Park, spoke on his experiences with the National Park Service, the mission and aims of the organization, and the challenges and rewards that come with working in the NPS. A hand-packed sack meal later, we started to make our way back to Arrowmont for the remainder of the day’s activities.
At Arrowmont, we organized leisure activities around the daily, unstructured ‘community time’, after which we were treated to a keynote presentation. Lance, our facilitator, spoke on the importance of a key element in all relationships, including our own with the NPS: trust. Without trust, Lance explained, few personal and professional relationships can take root and thrive. Within the SCA, being entrusted with caring for our nation’s natural resources is the first step in becoming an active and successful intern.
Our individual cultural backgrounds, too, play a role in shaping our service in the NPS and SCA. Even as a diverse group with various backgrounds and upbringings, we found that what we have in common - a commitment to preserving the environment - far outweighs our differences. By appreciating and embracing our diversity, we can provide the best possible service to our nation’s diverse people and landscape.
So ended the first day of the NPS Academy at the Great Smoky Mountains. With any luck, the rest of our week will prove equally informative and enjoyable.
What an inspiring (and busy) few days it's been! We asked you to take a break from your service over the weekend to tell the world how or why you serve the planet. The response was, predictably, impressive.
Big thanks to all those who participated! By sharing your reasons for service, you helped inspire the world to serve.
With so many great responses, picking a winner was tough. That said, congratulations to Betsy DeFries! If her photo is any indication, we're confident that she'll put her prize (a heavy-duty SCA hiking pack) to good use. Thanks for the stunning view, Betsy!
Additional props to Andrea Willingham and Benjamina Nelson for nabbing our runner-up prizes. Who wouldn't be inspired to #servetheplanet by images like these?
Search for #SCAplanet on Twitter & Instagram for more great photos.
The noisemakers and hats are all put away but on Martin Luther King Day, America will launch a New Year of Service. By serving together, we can extend Dr. King's legacy of doing for others and build a brighter future for all.
To honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,, President Obama is asking all Americans to participate in a National Day of Service on Jan. 19th.. We are asking you to join the thousands of other Americans who will pledge to serve as part of this national campaign. Make a sign that says "i serve the planet" that shows us how or why you serve the planet (bonus points if you include the SCA logo). Share it on Twitter or Instagram with hashtags #iServe and #SCAplanet, and we'll post our favorites here and on Facebook. On Tuesday, Jan. 22nd, we'll pick one truly inspiring image and award the photographer with an SCA hiking pack filled with SCA gear. Read the full contest rules.
As you consider what form your service will take, we hope you will join SCA on MLK weekend at parks in Washington, DC, the Bay Area, Pittsburgh, and other locations, or volunteer at one of the many additional service projects scheduled across the nation. If you have an event you want to share with the broader SCA community, please post it directly on jointhesca.org events section.
Forty-five years ago, Dr. King remarked "all labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." In just a few days, we can honor his words, his deeds and his life.
Giving back moves us forward as a people and as a country. So, if you're still looking for a New Year's resolution or if you've already ditched the one you made earlier, resolve right now to serve on Martin Luther King Day. And, then tell us why you serve the planet... Maybe you'll inspire the world to serve along with you!
It's time! Time for the year's last round of the Conservation Caption Competition, Winter 2012 Edition. Let's end the year right with an absurd caption for this absurd photo.
Special thanks to SCA national partner Dr. Pepper Snapple Group for making the Conservation Caption Competition, Winter 2012 Edition possible.
Click here for the rules.