That’s a wrap.

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I am extremely grateful and thankful to have worked an entire year for an organization with the mission “to preserve the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for education, enjoyment and the inspiration of this and future generations”. I am thankful for non-profit organizations that exist such as the Student Conservation Association, Emily Poore National Initiatives Program Manager, Molly Nash National Initiatives Program Coordinator and Ernestine White Service-Wide Volunteer and Youth Programs Coordinator​, who’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and to inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment. I have learned to further appreciate and educate others on the beauty of nature and its preservation, gained friendships that will last my lifetime, and most importantly engaged myself in public service work for the United States federal government through AmeriCorps. This seashore will always be my first home!

It is bittersweet as my time here at Fire Island National Seashore comes to an end. Now that this chapter in my professional career has closed, I must reflect on the multitude of experiences, knowledge and memories I have gained during my time here at the Seashore. Not only have I enriched my resume, but also my life! As a native Long Islander, I have spent my entire life growing up here. Unfortunately, until I began this internship, my knowledge about the Seashore and the National Park Service was very vague. Through my experience working here I have gained an unimaginable appreciation for Fire Island and its resources (most importantly how to identify Poison Ivy and remove ticks!!), the National Park Service, and the Student Conservation Association.  I have received many valuable skills and experiences. From exploring the Sunken Forest, to helping out the resource management team, I have enriched myself with knowledge that I won’t forget. I have met many individuals who have touched my life in a meaningful way that will always stay with me. Fire Island National Seashore’s rangers encourage curiosity and fun in all of its employees, interns, and visitors. There are many people at the park that I would like to thank for such a memorable experience here, so here it goes…Thank you, Irene Rosen Supervisory Park Ranger/Volunteer Coordinator, Kathy Krause Chief of Interpretation, Kristin Santos Park Ranger/Interpretative Specialist, David Raymond Seasonal Park Ranger, Thomas Pratt Seasonal Park Ranger, Patricia Ryley-Whitlock Seasonal Park Ranger, Sonia Taiani Seasonal Park Ranger, Steve Nemecek Seasonal Park Ranger, Kelsey Sucena Park Ranger, Allie Sliney SCA Intern, Chelsea Cannon SCA Intern, Dalton SCA Intern, Kelsey Taylor Biological Science Technician, Jordan Raphael Park Biologist, Lindsay Ries Wildlife Biologist, Elizabeth Rogers Public Affairs Specialist, Kaetlyn Jackson Park Planner, Michael Bilecki Chief of Natural Resources Management, Phillip Salvador IT Specialist, Felix Bernardo Supervisory Park Ranger, Dennis Mott Supervisory Facility Operations Specialist, Jim Dunphy Facility Manager and most importantly all of the maintenance crew and law enforcement employees for keeping Fire Island National Seashore clean, safe and in order. I would like to thank the extremely educated and dedicated William Floyd Estate Employees, MaryLaura Lamont Park Ranger, Chris Olijnyk Site Manager of the William Floyd Estate and the Cultural Resource Manager of Fire Island National Seashore, Denise Steinmacher Park Ranger and other WFE seasonal and volunteers.

Saving the best for last (as my favorite Fire Island National Seashore site is the Fire Island Lighthouse!), I would like to thank the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society for your extreme dedication and commitment to keeping the light shining on Fire Island! Thank you for making my stay here at the seashore fun, exciting, and always making me feel at home, welcomed and appreciated for my time and help, Amanda Vaskas Program Director/Volunteer Coordinator, David Griese Office Administrator, and Patti Stanton Office Administrator.

Most importantly, I would like to thank Chris Soller, Fire Island National Seashore Superintendent and Kelly Fellner Assistant Superintendent of Fire Island National Seashore in addition to all of the other people who work in administration down at headquarters for Fire Island National Seashore.

Fire Island National Seashore would not be the amazing place it is today without the dedication of its volunteers so I would like to graciously thank each of you for what you do to contribute to the park. I have had the honor of working closely with Bette Burman Lighthouse Preservation Society volunteer and multiple other Fire Island National Seashore Interpretation volunteers (Ed Bulter, Mike and Mary Trotta, Paula and many others!).

Unable to truly express my gratitude for this experience into words, here are some photos from over the past year to reflect my time here!

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No matter where I end up in my career and in my life, my love for the National Park Service and Fire Island will remain. I am proud to have called Fire Island National Seashore my park for the past year, and proud to believe  it will always continue to be. I will continue to encourage others to find your park!