The past ten weeks at the A Place in A Park (APAP) program have been an insightful learning experience. Before coming to APAP, I had been apart of the environmental and science club at my school. I had a bit of prior exposure to environmental studies but received a whole lot more at this program.
Right from the beginning the mentors gave us an overview about how each week was going to go. Each week focused on a specific topic relating to the environment. We went through a variety of topics from storytelling to the outdoors to social justice and much more. All of the sessions provided me with new perspectives on environmental matters. I also learned the “how to’s” of basic skills involving the outdoors. I learned about the 10 hiking essentials, how to set up a tent, and how to create a fire starter. The people at APAP were amazing. I loved all the mentors, interns, staff, volunteers, literally everyone there. The mentors were so fun to be around. They were all so dedicated and passionate about the program. The interns were also a great group to be apart of. They all had many interesting and insightful ideas. Each one of them brought different perspectives to the table. As for the staff and volunteers there, they were all so supportive of the program. They created a warm and welcoming environment that you couldn’t help but want to be apart of. The whole community contributed to the memorable and fun experiences we had there.
My most memorable experience was during week 8 (the projects week) when we held a competition between the interns and mentors. The competition was about who would be able to make up the best imaginary national park. The mentors created a trail called the March For Justice National Historic Trail. It begun in Washington DC where the Women’s March took place and ended in Florida. Us interns created a more fantasy like park. It was called The Mcfit based off of all of our initials combined. We created trails and paths dedicated to each of our mentors. We also had a station where you could borrow a dog for a day. This was one of my favorite experiences because I got to listen to all the different perspectives that my peers had to offer. It was also the last project that we got to work on together as a whole.
Another memorable experience for me was during the last APAP session. This was the day where I got to see everyone’s completed final projects. We did a mock presentation by creating four different stations where the interns presented to other interns and staff members. It was interesting to see all of the great and different ideas that my peers came up with. Although we all went through the same program, we all had different parts of the program that intrigued us. This resulted in the creation of a variety of different final projects. During the actual presentations I saw people become more independent and confident in themselves. They all spoke confidently and presented themselves well. After our presentations we went back to the library where our mentors had prepared a surprise for us. We got to eat mint ice cream sandwiches and watch a slideshow with pictures from the past ten weeks. This was a memorable experience for me because it was a time where I got to see the ten weeks of APAP combined into one. By looking at the collection of things we did throughout the program, I became very reflective and thankful for the whole experience.
I would like to become apart of IMBY because it would allow me to build my relationship with the National Park Service (NPS). I would be able to continue growing within the NPS community and learn more about it. As an IMBY, I will be able to work with the next generation of APAP interns and not only educate them, but myself too. I could also contribute to the NPS by becoming an active volunteer. The National Park Service hosts many events and programs that volunteers can be apart of.
Overall these past ten weeks have been quite an experience. Coming into the program I didn’t know a lot about the National Park Service or even about general environmental matters. This program taught me to be more aware of my surroundings and about the different affairs surrounding environmental studies. This program also provided me with a community filled with great members who have common goals and interests as me. I enjoyed being a part of a group of positive people who were passionate about the things they do. It was truly an unforgettable experience.