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In my program I am a bit unique from the rest of my classmates. Out of approximately 28 of us, there are 3 of us hoping to pursue a career in the Federal government. This is not that surprising, I mean the UNC School of Government has more of a state and local government focus, and I knew that going in. Over the first year I was definitely swayed to head in that direction and diverge away from my original plan of Federal government (always parks though, just would have been state or local parks instead). The biggest pull was always that at the state and local level, you get the chance to interact with citizens much more frequently. I still believe that is true, at the state and local level you are able to communicate with the citizens more often especially because in terms of public services, those are the services citizens interact with on a daily basis. They are the water and sewer, the school system, and local parks. Working at Wolf Trap, however, I have been swooned back into the full swing of Federal government though. I feel like a nerd saying I re-drank the federal Kool Aid, but I have again. I think that is because when it comes to parks it doesn’t really matter what level you are on – local, state or federal. Citizens come to a park to enjoy, relax and be in nature, whether they are playing on a local soccer league, or rock climbing in the Grand Canyon. At some national parks, especially smaller ones like Wolf Trap, people do not even know they are at a national park until they see the arrowhead and go “Wait…is this is a national park? Like Grand Canyon national?” and our response is always the same “Yep! Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, the only national park dedicated to preserving the performing arts.”

The other day I even got to do my first interpretive tour! A nice woman came to Wolf Trap looking to get her NPS passport stamped and asked if there was anyone that could tell her a bit about the park. She had just finished up half of the Appalachian Trail and stopped at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (I should also mention this woman was in her mid to late-60s and quickly became my idol). I told her, unfortunately there were no Rangers in the office yet, but I would be happy to tell her a bit, we walked around the theater and the park and I told her the history. I apologized that it was not at the level that a Ranger could provide, and she said “you may not be a Ranger yet, but you’re going to make a great one, one day.”

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