30 October 2020

Working Around a Pandemic

Written by: Bridget Manjarrez

This blog marks five weeks since I started working as a Conservation Education Resource Assistant for the Angeles National Forest.

The position varies from place to place but at the Angeles Forest, it’s mainly focused on increasing accessibility to the various green spaces surrounding the greater Los Angeles area. Accessibility is an ever changing thought currently as we navigate connecting people to natural resources amid a global pandemic. The goal is to help people of all ages understand and appreciate their surrounding natural resources and help foster conservation of these places for many generations to come. However, reaching this goal usually comes in the form of public outreach on the trail, in classrooms, and in community spaces which presents a new way to engage the public in the absence of those opportunities.

With this in mind, my time has been focused on the organization, presentation, and utility of our forest’s website and online resources. Comparing other sites from various organizations, it has become very clear to me just how much work is on my plate, but it also presents a great opportunity to call on my creativity, communication skills, and passion for the outdoors. Things like formatting, wording, and featured learning activities all should be matched with accessibility, inclusivity, and safety at the forefront.

While I have some experience in interpretation and environmental education, this position provides a unique insight into how teachers and parents experience the U.S. Forest Service through our online resources. The ability to quickly obtain accurate, safe, and engaging learning materials and trail information is something I’ve really been focusing on as I work on designing our website. Considering the impact of COVID-19, parents and teachers are looking for resources which are easy to access and provide for a safe outdoor experience. I’ve also applied this thought to our own resources staff use and how to best organize them for programming and outreach use. 

The expanse of this project is something I’m still learning but is valuable in my understanding of how the U.S. Forest Service works, especially with partnerships, and all the work that goes on beyond the trails. In the meantime, I’m excited to see what opportunities this fellowship holds with the Forest Service and HAF. I’m lucky to be guided by a few great supervisors and have the support along the way to learn and form what will hopefully be a stronger faucet of environmental outreach.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Angeles National Forest

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