Kelly McCann – Mississippi National River and Recreation Area


The 9 month mark of a 12 month internship has been quite the shift of attention. I didn’t realize what a stark difference it would be, but we aren’t able to wildly push for new programs or develop capacity for existing ones. The focus shifts inwards to draw up a plan for sustainability. Many jobs in the park service are ephemeral, and I’ve seen many a seasonal’s curriculum for a new program dying in the park y: drive. That’s not the fate I want to see for the awesome work CVAs have contributed at all the sites!

I’ll detail some of my tying of loose string:

  1. Compiling a curriculum library. The e-graveyard of scattered seasonal programming is now a renovated e-library. My goal is to allow staff (especially our new CVAs) to easily incorporate this ready-made river-based curriculum into their programs so that no one is reinventing the wheel. That was a hard lesson to learn as a firey new hire – it’s always best to ask around before you spend weeks developing something that exists (and would have made a great partnership!). Work smarter not harder is the cliche I believe
  2. Detailing the process. It’s easy to get so close to your precious program that you don’t realize that your materials don’t make sense to outsiders. I’m going to try to breakdown the goals, objectives, ed standards, and timelines for each program I’ve worked on.
  3. Increasing capacity. Our volunteer program team is interested in developing a strategic plan. I hope we can identify what our capacity is now and how we can redesign to reach more kids with less staff. Eventually, CVAs won’t be here to support it! (although, we’re lucky enough to be getting 2 replacements until 2017!)
  4. Developing a list of questions for new CVAs. I think all CVAs have shared the struggle of integrating into a brand new position and how long that took. I want to let the newbies come out of training, guns blazing from all being with our colleagues and inspired by our leaders, ready to hit the ground running. Hopefully a list of questions for the CVA to discuss with their supervisor on their first day or in their first week will help them get integrated faster and prevent frustrating ambiguity. I’m hoping this can be a collaborative effort that goes out to all CVAs?

That’s the plan! Somehow I’ll fit it in between regular volunteer events like Earth Week, habitat restoration events, and field trips… Oh, not to mention the ever present job hunt. Happy Spring!