Northeast Regional Office (NER): Mitigating Climate Change in National Parks in the Northeast U.S.

NPS Unit: Northeast Regional Office (NER)
Location: Philadelphia, PA and NER park sites
Project Title:   Mitigating Climate Change in National Parks in the Northeast U.S.
Pay: Interns will be paid $12/hour for a total of 480 hours.
Position Description: This position will help support the efforts of national parks to complete the “Climate Friendly Park” program.  The Climate Friendly Parks (CFP) program helps parks identify sources of greenhouse gas emissions inside park boundaries and identify how best to decrease or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Identified mitigation actions can then be integrated into daily and seasonal park operations to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce energy use, reduce water consumption, increase park recycling efforts, and provide leadership roles for park staff to show the visiting public the efforts the NPS is taking to reduce our NPS carbon footprint.The intern will help NER parks collect GHG emissions data relevant to the five operational areas of each park: electricity usage, water consumption and wastewater treatment, waste production, fleet management (e.g., vehicle miles traveled and types of fuel used), and other park operations (e.g., fertilizer use).  Once the data is collected, the intern will populate the CFP excel-based CLIP Tool and provide the park with the baseline greenhouse gas emission information that will be used in either a CFP workshop or development of the park CFP Action Plan.  The intern will also work closely with each park’s Environmental Management (EM) Team to ensure CFP actions are included in the parks EM plan.  The intern will help develop materials that will keep park management apprised of progress toward CFP goals.

The position will be based at the Philadelphia office of NER, but will spend extended time in each of the identified CFP parks to assist with greenhouse gas emission data collection.  The intern may be working with up to nine NER park units.  The following park units have submitted applications and will have a CFP workshop in early 2013: Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, Lowell National Historic Park, Richmond National Battlefield Park, Petersburg National Battlefield, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, and Hampton National Historic Site. In addition, two more opportunities exist to assist the NER CFP program.  Valley Forge National Historic Park and Sagamore Hill National Historic Site are both scheduled to begin CFP workshop planning later in 2013. If a workshop has already occurred before the intern is assigned, completion of the GHG data collection can still be done post-workshop and is still a critical component of the CFP Action Plan. If a CFP workshop has not yet occurred, the GHG inventory will be used in the workshop.  Either way, the intern’s work establishes the GHG emission baseline by which the park will determine success for several years.

If time allows, the intern can be involved in developing the on-the-ground mitigation actions that are identified during the CFP workshops or in the park CFP Action Plan. Development of relevant outreach materials for visitors and staff may also be included if time allows.

 

Learning goals: This project will help the intern better understand how the actions and activities of a unit, in this case a park, directly impact the processes of climate change. To be able to calculate and determine the exact contribution of a park unit to the local, regional, and global greenhouse gas emissions budget is an incredible product and tool for any young graduate, whether he or she is studying science, engineering, policy or law. The CFP program allows an intern to understand how emission sources are identified (small and large), methodology used to calculate type and amount of emissions, aggregation of those various emission sources into one defining unit, and then dissecting each source to explore how to eliminate or minimize greenhouse gas emissions. This project affords creative and out-of-the-box thinking in regards to CFP Action Planning and can have very real results in reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a park. The intern can then apply this knowledge of greenhouse gas data collection, methodology and mitigation actions to other parks or other career opportunities.  They will also learn about the process of becoming a CFP-certified park and receive an introduction to the NPS (e.g., fundamentals of NPS history, policy, planning, and operations).  Developing a GHG emission inventory provides experience in critical thinking, data management skills, emission calculation methodology, introduction to pollution control technologies and policy-relevant writing skills. 
Mentoring: Regional mentoring will occur through the NER Division of Natural Resources.  The intern will be supervised by the Chief of Natural Resources in the Philadelphia office.  The NER Air Resources Coordinator and CFP lead will provide primary mentoring and oversight for specific CFP projects (e.g., CLIP tool training, data collection, introduction to the NPS Green Parks plan, NPS Climate Change Response Strategy, regional CCR action plans, etc).  These relationships will help the intern to understand how the NPS implements natural resource protection and mitigation efforts at the regional level.  Then, once detailed to a park, a park resource manager will help guide the intern in park operations and data collection. 
Qualifications: No specific degree or degree training is required.  Applicant should be comfortable doing independent work (e.g., data entry using excel-based program, talking to a variety of park staff for needed data).  .
Position Dates: Target dates: May through August but can be flexible for Spring assignments
Housing Available: Park housing opportunities are limited.
Vehicle/License Required: A valid state driver’s license will be needed in order to operate government vehicles while conducting official government business.
Work Environment: The work environment will be mostly office-oriented.  The intern will be placed at park sites which may include some outdoor activity in order to identify emission sources throughout the park.  Significant travel will be required involving work at parks in the Mid-Atlantic and New England areas.