Hi, I’m Claire Finn, the Centennial Volunteer Ambassador at Yosemite National Park.

Volunteer: Jessica Zamudiojessica_zamudio

Hometown: Palm Bay, FL

Position: Social Media and Video Production Intern

Fun Fact: I am a spoken word poet, visual artist, and photographer.

Can you describe your job?

My internship is divided into two portions. The first, the video production portion, has me spending my days with [supervisor] Kristin Ramsey working to get footage of youth programs doing trail work in the park, stewardship related activities – basically capturing that. Sony has granted us a project to create three or four short videos featuring youth programs in the park for social media purposes, so that’s what that footage is for. Also, I’ve been learning different editing techniques and how to use professional editing software, audio, and video equipment.

The second portion, the social media aspect of my internship, has me spending time working on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I’m responsible for answering the questions that are posted to any of those social media pages and also creating content for them. So in my free time when I’m out hiking, or working on video, or whenever I have the opportunity really (I usually have my camera with me anyway), I’m trying to capture photos that I think we could use for social media pages. I do research and create captions for that image content, too.

What is your favorite part of the job?

My favorite part of my job is getting to travel around the park, see all these amazing places and views, and capture those on film or still photography.

Has anything surprised you about your position or just about volunteering at a national park in general?

I guess what surprised me was working with the youth programs – it brought out this passion in me that I didn’t expect. For example, last week I was working with a group of middle schoolers from the Bay Area, most of whom never have been to a national park or had camping experience. The project was that they each were given a digital camera and taken for a week to stay in a national park. Throughout the week they went on hikes, did a bunch of activities, and during all of that they were being taught how to use their digital cameras and different photography techniques, such as composition and lighting. I got to work with this group and I found myself putting down my camera equipment – I was there to film them – and interacting and engaging with these kids and really loving it. I saw myself in these kids, and with my photography background it was really cool to be able to share knowledge with them. That surprised me, I didn’t expect that going into that project. It was so fulfilling!

How did you find your park at Yosemite, and what was that path?

I found my park at Yosemite starting at Everglades National Park. Before I even thought “Hey, I could work at a national park”, before I even knew how people came to that position in their lives, I had this interest in going outdoors. I was raised in an urban area where we never – I’d never been camping in my life until maybe a few months ago, and my second time was in the Sierras, so zero to sixty! Anyway, I just started going to these random nature preserves in my region, then branched out and drove four hours to the Everglades one day, kind of on a whim. I went to this museum there and I was talking to one of the curators and I said “You have an awesome job – how did you get here? How does one come to work in a park like this?”. She pointed me in the direction of the SCA (Student Conservation Association) and gave me all sorts of information. I went home that day and looked on the website and read articles, emailed someone, and eventually I applied for this internship through the National Park Service Academy 2015 (woo!). When I was given the pool of internships to choose from, I saw Yosemite and this video and media position and it was my first choice, so I applied for it immediately. I had always heard about Yosemite, and it was like this distant memory of wanting to go as a child from seeing articles in National Geographic. I wanted to go – so I applied, got the job, and now I’m here and I’m happy.

What role do National Parks play in your life? What do parks mean to you?

What initially drew me to national parks was being outside. Being in nature has always brought me a calm that nothing else can. Eventually that brought me to parks. Now that I work here and I’m learning all about the history of the park service and gaining an understanding of its importance, the significance of protecting our natural and cultural resources – now that has become my strongest relation to parks.

Do you know what you want to do next?

I have a vague idea of what I want to do next. I identify as an artist, all the way. I love photography, I love the visual arts, and I love the spoken and written word. I love storytelling. I love the national parks, and I would love to work in different national parks in my future career. Do I have a specific path right now? I would say it gets as specific as finding opportunities to utilize my artistic abilities and tools. Whether that be with the NPS or not …  if it was with the NPS I would love that, it would be amazing, but if it was outside of the NPS that would be amazing as well. I’m just looking for the opportunities right now.

Thanks again to Jessica Zamudio for allowing me to interview her and publish her words. Keep an eye out for my next volunteer profile – obviously there are amazing people here!