In the past, when the sun went down at the San Juan National
Historic Site in Puerto Rico, the lights went on and did not go off
again until daylight, providing a view of the monument even when
there was no one there to see it. The electric bill was enormous
until a suggestion was made to put a timer on the lights, a simple
idea that saved the National Park Service $ 65,000 a year. That
money-saving suggestion was made not by a Park Service employee but
by a participant in an unusual internship program that is a
partnership between the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and
the National Park Service. Only master' s degree candidates in
fields of business, public administration, environmental management
or public policy/ government or any combination thereof need apply,
and only those with stellar qualifications will be accepted. The 30
men and women who are chosen will spend eight weeks of their summer
at one of 12 national parks or historic sites, not to build trails
or lead tours, but to write business plans.
The candidates chosen for this summer's program got together
recently for a weeklong training at Tenaya Lodge. Their reasons for
wanting to participate in the program are as diverse as their
backgrounds, but there appears to be a common thread-- the desire to
create a product that will be useful and used. "Everything the
business plan does is everything my course work did this year. I
didn't think that was possible in an internship" said Casey
a resident of Los Angeles who is working on a dual degree in public
policy and theology at Harvard University. "I am looking forward
producing something that is not going to be put up on a shelf."
Miller will be working at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield in
Roger Lee, a U. C. Davis graduate student in business found his two
years' experience as a consultant for non- profit organizations
frustrating when the plans he pre p a red were " looked at and
made to go away. " He is excited about his brief tenure at St.
Historical Site in New Hampshire, where, he said, "we will create
plan with our left hand and implement it with our right hand."
The consultants were selected from about 300 qualified applicants.
Many others applied who did not meet the minimum qualifications.
Most are from the top 20 schools in the nation and most have had at
least two years' experience in business. For instance, Brian
Iammartino of Long Island, who is also attending Harvard, spent a
couple of years working as an investment analyst on Wall Street
before deciding that he "wanted to contribute more in society"
and "have more of a direct impact." He will be working at the
Flagstaff Area National Monument in Arizona. The applicants are
asked to choose five sites as their preferences and are then
selected for a site according to their skills. They are matched with
at least one other consultant with a diff e rent set of skills to
provide balance. Shaun McClintock, for example, will be working with
Miller at Wilson's Creek. Where Miller' s expertise is in public
policy, McClintock's is in accounting. He is working on his MBA at
the University of Texas in Austin .
At their respective parks, the consultants will conduct analyses of
the Park Service's past and present use of funds and priorities and
then develop a plan with recommendations for the future, including
both short- and long- term goals. "We will be looking at what the
park does, the kind of money it receives and how it is spent… how
people's taxes are being put to use,' McClintock said.
The consultants have had an opportunity to meet with representatives
from the parks during the training, which Lee said
indicates "support at all levels" and "a true partnership." They
also took a behind- the scenes tour of Yosemite to familiarize
themselves with how a park is run. The tour included a look at the
wastewater treatment plant, a facility that "surprised" some. In
addition, a series of workshops introduced them to federal budget
and accounting systems, the organization of the Park Service,
accounting structures and various other topics. The consultants said
they were impressed by the computer program that will allow them to
create a standardized format for their plans. Iammartino noted that
he did a similar project for a city in Massachusetts but without the
program. "It took eight months to do what we'll be doing in eight
weeks,' he said.
In addition to the consultant program, the SCA currently has 1,100
other interns working in the field with the Park Service, including
Yosemite. That number will swell to 4,000 by the end of the summer,
They used the most boring quote I probably said, but I guess any quote is better than no
I'd link to the page of the article, but a paid ubscription is required, which is kinda
amusing for this little local paper.