This week I was lucky enough to participate in Operational Leadership Training at Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I met people from parks throughout the Southeast, including Congaree National Park, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, and Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We learned about safety, effective leadership, error and accident causation, mission analysis, operational risk management, stress and performance, situational awareness, decision making, and communication and assertiveness. Besides the technical subject matter itself being very useful, the training was very helpful for better understanding the evolving culture of the National Park Service, as well as understanding the planning and logistics necessary to organizing events.


As an added bonus, I drove home through Great Smoky Mountain National Park and across the Blue Ridge Parkway—enabling me to see a part of my own park that I don’t often get to visit.

Exciting things can happen in and out of the office! Last week a moth camped out on one of the front windows for a few days—which was a source of great personal excitement (bugs are cool!). I also included a picture of the walkway to work every day. Not only is it beautifully green, it’s also home to many spider webs and lizards. Later in the week the SCA interns got out of the office and went to Craggy Gardens, a beautiful spot on the Parkway with phenomenal views, incredible wildflowers, and an occasional bear. We filmed for a teaser video of a super awesome upcoming Centennial project.


In other news, hiking on and near the Parkway can lead to interesting finds—like the three massive hornets nests and five snakes I encountered on a trail in adjacent Pisgah National Forest this weekend. Unfortunately aggressive timber rattlers sometimes lose their heads, literally. Warning: the heads still bite! A graphic, but important safety tip.