It is amazing to think that six weeks have gone by already! It does not seem like summer is already half way done and sadly that means my externship is midway through too. My externship so far has been awesome and hard work. On a daily basis, my week pretty much has a routine. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I generally work with Anna de Cordova who is the Park Horticulturist. Anna is an amazing teacher and knows so much about plants and the Roosevelt family. I am honored that she is taking her time and teaching me few things about gardening and this beauteous park. On Tuesdays, I work with the Beatrix Garden Association volunteers who are a group of older ladies who bring abundance of energy when they walk through the side gate of the Beatrix Garden to do their daily routine. In addition, they are so sweet and welcoming. Anne Symmes is the horticulturalist for the Beatrix Farrand Garden and is a jubilant person to be around and knowledgeable on all plants that are Beatrix Farrand’s favorite. On Wednesdays, Anna leads a group of volunteers who come work at Val-Kill. This group consists of eight to twelve people who preserve Eleanor Roosevelt’s vegetable and flower garden. The volunteers are so passionate about Eleanor and the garden in general. All these volunteers come once a week and conserve the gardens and it ends up looking beautiful all week long thanks to local volunteers who are so passionate about the Roosevelt family. I’m glad to be working with groups of great local volunteers who are so spirited and energetic.
Other days, I am with Mike Riegle who is the Facility Manager of the Park. Mike is delightful and knows how to light up the room. Whenever it’s launch time with the guys at the Coach House, their is never a dull moment when Mike is around. He places me with his crew which includes Steve, Yassine, and Bashira who is a SCA intern for the summer. The new skills that I have developed are how to use different types of lawnmowers and learned to use the weed whacker for the first time. Man let me tell you, weed whacking is not a fun job! But I’m going to stick it out and do the work because women are strong as well. Bashira is such a personable woman to work with. She wants to start her own urban mushroom farm in the future and I hope her dreams do happen. I’m glad to have another lady to work with since men seem to dominate the maintenance work area. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course since these gentlemen are pleasant. Overall, the National Park Service staffs are delightful people to be around. The landscape management staff is so welcoming and I would not want to trade this externship with anything. At times this externship is so demanding and hard work but it is all worth it I believe because I get to work with great people and have met wonderful ones along the way as well. It is unpredictable to think that these three parks are maintained by few workers and they are doing such a fantastic job because the tourists who come to the parks notice the park’s attractiveness and its natural beauty that keeps intriguing everyone to come to Hyde Park New York.