6:30am – Wake up to the sound of birds and the sun peering through my blinds; I soon head over to the neighborhood gym, located in the garage of the Law Enforcement quarters.
8am – Coffee is brewing at the office. My co-consultant and I have an office in the Firehouse, about a mile away from the Park Headquarters. The Fire Team is called out at random times throughout the week to respond to local fires. It is dry season and you can often smell smoke in the air!
8:15am – After some “good mornings” with the staff, my co-consultant and I map out our plan for the day. We decide to dig into project writing this morning. Our project looks at how five nearby parks can better share resources (labor, equipment, training programs, etc.) to improve efficiency. During the last couple of weeks, we have been interviewing key staff members at the parks. It is time now to put some ideas on paper for resource sharing opportunities.
11am – After a couple hours of project writing, my co-consultant and I have a meeting with the Chief of Resources. We discuss a variety follow-up topics from our initial interview with her. She gives us additional information about the pros and cons of the sharing relationship to consider for our report.
12:30pm – We head home for lunch and soak up a few rays on the bench outside our house. It is 90 degrees in Dinosaur but the warm breeze feels great!
1:30 – We head over to Park HQ to pop in and say hello to our manager, the Superintendent. A “Super” is like a “CEO” of a park unit, overseeing all divisions and external relationships. We chat with him about logistics for our river trip tomorrow. The Green River is one of the two main river systems that run through the middle of Dinosaur’s 200,000-acre park and the management team is taking us on a rafting trip down the Green to experience the heart of the park.
2:30 – We are back in the office scheduling more follow-up conversations. We are also communicating with four other park units (Colorado National Monument, Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Golden Spike National Historic Site, and Fossil Butte) on a weekly basis for our project. We had a great time visiting those parks and meeting their teams in the previous few weeks. It will be good to re-connect via phone.
3pm – One of our new friends, who is a Law Enforcement Ranger, comes into our office to say hello. He just returned from a patrol of one of the campground sites. Unfortunately, one of the sites was heavily littered and food was left out unattended. This is extremely dangerous, given that there have been frequent bear sightings in the area; not to mention, it is disrespectful of public lands. Increased visitation is a double-edged sword – it is great that more people are enjoying our beautiful parks, but it must be carefully managed to ensure that visitors are doing so respectfully and lawfully.
4pm – Outside of emails and Ranger visits, we have spent the rest of the afternoon back in project mode. We are modeling out the financial implications of our top ideas. Our final report will include qualitative and quantitative analyses to support our recommendations, as well as detailed action planning with key tradeoffs and considerations. We are still weeks away from our final presentation, but we are building in time for feedback sessions with key staff across all five parks.
5pm – After saying goodbye to the Fire team, we pack up and head home. Thankfully, we still have four hours of daylight to explore the park. We put on our hiking gear and head to one of our favorite trails. Shockingly, even after 5pm, the temperature is still in the mid-80s – we will have to stay hydrated!
8pm – We head over to the Ranger house for an evening BBQ. As we walk, we remember that there was a mountain lion spotting near our housing (we see canyon landscapes in all directions) and dusk can be hunting time, so we have our guard up. Luckily, the rangers live only four houses away! The barbeque is fired up and we all enjoy the gorgeous view of the sunset from the backyard.
10pm – We head home and get ready for bed – we have an early morning wake up call for our river trip. Looking forward to another awesome day at the National Park Service!
Olivia Staffon (MBA 2019) is a 2018 HBS Social Enterprise Summer Fellow.
This post was originally published on the HBS Career and Professional Development blog.