15 March 2022

National Trails System - 3 Agencies, 1 System

Written by: Vanessa Morales

Hi blog readers! My name is Vanessa and I have been in my communications fellowship in NPS for the National Trails System (NTS) since September. I can’t believe it is now March! Since January, I have started an interagency communications work group involving the agencies of the National Trails System- Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, and National Park System. Together we review the NTS content calendar that we developed together to discuss our plans for the upcoming months, and brainstorm and collaborate on projects we can work on together. Currently, we are discussing plans for National Trails Day in June and brainstorming on how we can effectively communicate about the NTS. In our last meeting, we discussed updating an existing NTS story map to include all 3 of the agencies and their goals. It is exciting to see all three agencies come together to collaborate on a project. Through this group, many of the people who would probably not have the chance to meet are able to come together to learn about communications at different trails and agencies. 

Although I was nervous to facilitate these meetings at first (and still tuning out totally unnecessary/unwelcome voice in my head saying “I don’t belong”) this group has made me realize my purpose in the fellowship. Even when I was a teacher in my previous job, I always wanted to learn from others and learned a great deal from my closest peers- my students. In this role, I am learning so much about the park system, trail system, interagency working, and how to effectively communicate through my trail system colleagues.

Another project I am really excited for is the Spanish Language Resource Guide I have taken part in developing with other Spanish-speakers in NPS. The group was born out of an event I attended for Hispanic Heritage Month, when it was expressed that there is no support or guidance for Spanish translations other than an outdated style-guide. That problem quickly turned into action, and our Spanish Language Resource Group was born. After several months, we are almost finished with the first version of our guide, and we are presenting it to the Hispanic Organization on Relevancy, Advising, Leadership and Excellence (HORALE) Employee Resource Group to help Spanish speakers with translations at their office or park. The people taking part in the project are all very passionate about creating accurate and culturally competent translations for NPS, so it has been inspiring to work alongside them. The networking and relationships I have made in this group have made me really appreciate the support I have from my supervisors, who encourage me to seek opportunities outside of my duties at NTS.

Moving forward, I will continue to cultivate relationships at the other agencies of the NTS, and work with them to help with communications, as well as continue working in the Spanish Language Resource Group. Until next time!

[Image: Photo of the National Trails System 50th Anniversary Map. This photo includes all 30 national trails, and includes the logos of the 3 agencies adminstering them.]

Agency: National Park Service

Program: Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program (COR)

Location: Washington Office Region 1

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