Let’s ask the experts! Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be doing a series of posts focusing on seasonal employees at Holliday Lake State Park. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to spend the summer working in a state park, please stay tuned! Each employee highlighted has his or her own experience and I’ll just let them tell you all about it!
This interview is with Dan, former Conservation Intern at Holliday Lake State Park.
What was your position at Holliday Lake State Park?
How many seasons did you work in this position?
What were some of your duties in this position?
Development and implementation of educational programming; interacting with campers and daily use visitors; documenting park events; assistance with park events; Junior Ranger programs; workshops; and programs for special interest groups (at risk youth, 4-H groups, school field trips, etc.)
What was a typical workday like?
The typical workday involved 2 to 3 programs, generally ranging in variety and style. Roving interpretation and interactions with daily park visitors and campers. Office time each day was spent documenting programs and preparing for upcoming events.
What did you learn about customer service or working with the public?
Always be prepared for the unexpected. When working with the public it is best to be fully prepared for any situation that may arise.
Tell us about one memorable experience you had while working at Holliday Lake State Park.
My favorite experience at HLSP would probably be the first time I ran the Owl Call Canoe Tour by myself. I took a group out with some regular campers and an entire group of Boy Scouts. After a long loop around the lake we began to call owls just before dark. Our first few attempts failed. After a brief explanation that the owls aren’t on the payroll and cannot be guaranteed to respond, we left the cove of Holliday Creek and headed toward the dock. On our way out, unexpected and far past the time of our last call, one of the Barred Owls called to us! It was absolutely beautiful and also for me the first time I had heard an owl call back. The group of 20 or more was somewhat surprised to hear a response too. We listened for about 10 minutes very quietly and then departed. The Boy Scouts began giving each other high fives, exhilarated about the first time many had ever heard an owl.
What have you been up to since leaving HLSP?
Currently I am working for Longwood University and Macados Restaurant. I was a student at Longwood while working at HLSP.
How do you think working at a Virginia State Park has helped prepare you for the future? Or helped you meet your personal career and/or educational goals?
Working at HLSP did a lot more in preparing me for my future than I expected. Being a small park we were limited on our resources. This made it necessary to use creativity and what materials we did have to make every program a success. It proves that most great programs aren’t the result of what you have, but what you make of the experience. Involvement and interaction with the public was my biggest priority at HLSP. Because of this I learned a tremendous amount about working With people and public speaking. Currently that is exactly what field I am working in, where customer interaction and public relations is the main priority of my position.
Would you recommend a seasonal position in Virginia State Parks to a friend?
I most definitely would and I have.
Is there anything else you want to share about your time at HLSP?
I loved my time at the park and wouldn’t take it back for anything. There wasn’t one experience or person at HLSP that made me dislike the job. Of all the jobs I have held (before graduating college) this by far was the most worthwhile.
Sometimes it is sad to see good employees leave, but when they are young people moving on to full-time jobs, we can’t hold them back! Dan worked closely with Dr. Jim Jordan, Park Naturalist and Longwood University professor of anthropology. Dan was always ready to go-with-the flow and help out anywhere he was needed. He especially enjoyed teaching park guest about the geocaching opportunities here and in the surrounding Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest.
Check out Holliday Lake State Park’s job listings of other Virginia State Parks and apply if you’re interested. Don’t think you have to be a teenager to apply either; we have lots of seasonal employees who have let’s just say a little more life experience.