12 December 2020

Out With the Old and In With the New

Written by: Allen Cardenas

I’ve been in my role at NPS for nearly a year now and I am nearing the end of my term. In the mad dash to close things out and tie up all loose ends, I am reminded of all the incredible things that have happened. Despite this fellowship looking completely different from what it was when I was hired, I still got to meet so many influential people, work on incredible projects, and learn invaluable skills.


I only got to work side-by-side with my colleagues for a few weeks before we all started working from home, but that didn’t hinder the connections we were able to make. I am truly impressed with the skills and creativity my colleagues and project partners brought to our projects. Although the ability to accomplish tasks and fulfill promises to partners has been impressive, I am most awed by the personal connections my team made. Despite the virtual environment, I have never felt so supported in a work environment. This is not just those who I frequently work with, but all who I have met in meetings, informational interviews, and other settings. They have truly served as an inspiration for what positive leaders can look like and how to be thoughtful facilitators.

As I wrap up my work, I also have the opportunity to reflect on the work I have already completed. It is easy to lose track of your accomplishments as you hone in on the next project or think of the next exciting thing to do, but these past couple of weeks have showed me that it is useful to look back on what I accomplished because it highlights the growth I made. I developed hard skills like using InDesign and soft skills like learning how to better facilitate conversations in a virtual environment. From research projects, to outreach and engagement strategy building, to leading national trainings, I seemed to have forgotten things I am so proud of. When I look at my list of accomplishments, it makes me hopeful for what is to come.

It is because of these experiences I am excited to begin a second term with the Seattle Regional Office in January 2021. In the coming term, I hope to put the final touches on some projects and while still focusing in more on key ones and apply my newly acquired skills to band new endeavors. I can’t wait to share how those all turn out in the coming months. Both in this second term and beyond. Be on the lookout for what is to come!

Agency: National Park Service

Program: Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program (COR)

Location: Portland Regional Office

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