27 Jul Park Partners and Community Connections
Park Partners and Community Connections
Throughout the course of my internship, I have had the opportunity to experience a fraction of life as a park interpreter. I have had the chance to help organize events, write press releases, and even host my own Night Photography Workshop. I am so grateful the I have had their experiences but what has been truly inspiring about my time here is observing the many ways in which Tumacácori is involved in the neighboring communities.
It is common to hear that people have not been to the parks nearest them or that people just find them uninteresting because they have always been there. This is not the case at Tumacácori. Throughout my time here it is clear that the staff at Tumacácori want to be involved in their community in an impactful way. The Fiesta that happens the first weekend of December is a perfect example of this. This is easily the biggest event the park has, and it is made to support and uplift a variety of local artisans from an array of cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, the event is heavily attended by Tucson, Rio Rico, and Nogales locals. The park staff pours so much time and thought capturing the diverse stories and cultures of this region with nuance and compassion.
Dia de San Juan Splash Fest
Another event that is almost completely attended by families from Nogales and Rio Rico is the Día de San Juan Splash Fest. This was one of the events that I helped organize. Día de San Juan is a holiday commonly celebrated in Mexico to mark the beginning of the monsoon season. Here at the park, we organized water games, made raspados, and I arranged for the Tubac Fire Department to come on spray the participants with the fire hose at the end of the event. It was amazing to see kids from the community excited to be at the park. Being part of the team that made this event happen taught me two things: 1) planning a community gathering (even small) takes a lot of time and energy and 2) that the time and energy are so worth it to see the community excited about coming to the park.
Cheetah Champ Camp
Additionally, I had the opportunity to assist in and lead activities at the Cheetah Champ Camp at San Cayetano Elementary School in Rio Rico. This was a summer camp for k-5th graders. The goal of the camp was to reintroduce students to the classroom after a year and a half of virtual instruction. For the first three days, I assisted the art teacher, where I got to help 3-5th graders make sculptures out of recycled materials. On the 4th day, my supervisor and I taught k-2nd graders how to go birding, which was as adorable as it sounds. On the final day of camp, I got to try an erosion experiment that is part of my curriculum project. It was invigorating to see the student engaging with my material and connecting Tumacácori to a positive (dare I say fun) educational experience. This taught me how beneficial and desirable it can be when a National Park has such a strong relationship with local schools.
All this to say one of my favorite parts of this internship has been getting to work with park partners, local organizations, and community members. It reminds me that our National Park Service is meant to serve our national community and the most impactful way to do this is by each park creating strong relationships with their local communities.