26 May 2021

Helping Manage our Country's Trails

Written by: Jazmin Castillo

As an ecologist, my work was a hybrid experience between working in the field and working at my office. My area of focus was on wildlife management and my imposter syndrome kicked in the first weeks at my new position as the Trails Program Resource Assistant out of the Washington Office. Being from Nebraska, a state predominantly privately owned, access to public lands is very minimal. Here I was, someone who had only hiked one National Trail her entire life, now working virtually with staff who have spent years keeping our trails accessible. My background may not have specialized in trail management, but my perspective allowed me to take new approaches.

Jazmin SummerOne of my first projects was to review the Forest Service's Trails webpages. Many terms, initiatives, or programs were new to me, but it allowed me to help rephrase and reorganize these pages to make them easily understandable to the public. In my experience, the fear of not knowing how to start an outdoor activity has kept me from venturing out of my comfort zone. Working in this position has given me opportunities to share my experiences in the hope to continue breaking down barriers others may be facing about venturing outdoors.

Working out of the Washington Office has also introduced me to professionals throughout the United States. Every week I am in meetings with Forest Service staff from all regions. I listen in on local issues and brainstorm how our office can provide assistance and solutions. As a previous advisor would call us, we are "that crème filling of an Oreo that brings both sides together."

After one month of working in this position, this opportunity has made me realize I enjoy this type of work. The fast pace of finding solutions to help staff who are encountering issues/needs on the ground. I have enjoyed interacting with different professionals every week and seeing familiar ones on other projects. Each week has brought new challenges, collaborations, and acronyms. I am excited to see where the next 11 months take me.

Annapolis Rock

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Rivers, Trails Conservation Assistance Program - DC Support Office

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