I am Corina Yeh, a Centennial Volunteer Ambassador for the National Park Service at Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona.
On November 18, 2015, I got the honor of meeting our Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Sally Jewell! That afternoon, Saguaro National Park staff were holding their annual employee Thanksgiving potluck. Secretary Jewell came and joined in the festivities and came around and shook hands with all of the personnel and volunteers in attendance and thanked us for our service.
After going around and meeting everyone, she sat down to have some turkey, stuffing, and green beans like the rest of us!
We were asked as staff to think of questions to ask the Secretary while we had her for talking points. She first discussed some serious points about how our public lands have been entrusted to us and that all of the agencies in the DOI have the responsibility of preserving our resources for future generations. We also needed to be more relevant for today’s generation, our future environmental stewards.
She agreed with us about needing to update the Park Service uniforms. Especially in a state like Arizona, doing field work in those un-breathable clothes is torture! Secretary Jewell also agreed about the inefficiencies of the Public Land Corp Hiring Authority. This piece of legislation was meant to help the younger generation gain a foothold in these public agencies and find a way in, when in fact it hasn’t really been helping due to the 120 day turn around time that is needed to be able to qualify.
Then, she was asked about what she was hoping to accomplish by then end of her time in this administration. She was such a straight shooter in answering about what she wanted to complete versus what was realistically going to get done. Her realistic promises were a breath of fresh air!
After talking with all of us, we all gathered for a group picture and as we were getting getting in place, she looked over to me smiling, and asked, “Do I have spinach in my teeth?”
It was so nice to see someone in the Washington office caring about her staff under her and where the agency was headed in the future. She was funny, nice, and straightforward. I wish her the best of luck in her remaining months!