Summer at Yosemite Captured on Film

SCA Intern Jessica Zamudio's job at Yosemite was to Photograph the Stunning Landscape

Hometown: Palm Bay, Florida

College: University of Central Florida

Major: B.S. Psychology Minor Diversity and Social Inequality

SCA Title: Yosemite National Park Social Media and Video Intern

What’s the coolest thing about being an SCA Social Media and Video Intern at Yosemite National Park?

I would have to say it’s that I am in one of the most visually and historically amazing places in the country. I work with some of the most interesting, open-minded, community oriented individuals I have ever met. The community here is something special. Specific to my position, I find it exciting that, through social media, the content that I create reaches this huge audience. We have visitors from around the world and even people who have never even been to Yosemite following us through different social media outlets. When I post a photo that I personally composed and edited onto Facebook and it receives a few thousand likes, I really get a sense of pride knowing that people from all walks of life enjoy and appreciate my work.

What’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen or been involved with since you arrived at Yosemite?

While the towering granite mountains and amazing waterfalls and rivers were like nothing I’ve ever seen, I personally got an unexpected and wonderful amount of gratification and fulfillment from working with the youth programs in the park. Working with a group called Parks In Focus, I discovered a very nurturing side of myself, often putting down my video camera so I could interact and connect with the young participants. They were inner city, middle school kids, many of whom had never been outside an urban environment before, camping out in Yosemite for a week, each given a point and shoot digital camera along with some photography instruction. With my background in photography, it was easy for me to connect with them and share my knowledge.

Why is it important for the National Park Service to have a strong social media game?

Social media engages its audience in a different way than other media outlets. It really allows followers to interact with the park and each other, whether that be through conversing in a post’s comment thread or by posting questions directly to Yosemite’s page. Which, yes, we do respond to them!

You’re a member of SCA’s NPS Academy, a program designed to help NPS better accomplish its mission by diversifying its workforce. What about the NPS Academy experience have you found illuminating or inspiring?

NPS academy is an exceptional program. I have found my peers and mentors to be some of the brightest and most kind people. Spending a week in Grand Teton National Park for NPS Academy Orientation, I got to see how incredibly thoughtful and carefully coordinated and facilitated the activities were. You could see just how much the coordinators of this program care about it and about its participants. There was so much genuine concern and hope for us. Everyone there truly wanted to know us and see us succeed.

Why is it important for the National Park Service to strongly connect with ALL Americans, regardless of age, race, background, gender identity, or sexual orientation?

It is imperative that the National Park Service connect with all Americans, regardless of age, race, background, gender identity, or sexual orientation, because it is our moral as well as federal obligation, as a government organization, to  accurately reflect the diversity of the population that we serve. Federal lands are for everyone to enjoy, but unfortunately, there are certain factors that continue to create barriers toaccess for certain groups. It is our responsibility to remove those barriers and create recreational and vocational opportunities for all people.

How have your experiences with SCA and NPS affected your career goals? And your life goals? What have you learned about yourself and your relationship to conservation and the natural world?

Both NPS and SCA have definitely affected my career and life goals. From my internship experience, I have taken away a new understanding of how to manage the environment and a new respect for the rich cultural histories of these lands. Even if I do not work for the NPS, I will always take that concern and care for our cultural and natural resources with me.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about Yosemite? And about bears??

Prior to working at Yosemite, I did not know that the park’s black bears almost never attack people. They will bluff charge if feeling threatened but there are no actual deaths by bear attack reported in the history of Yosemite.

If you could travel back in time to before you started your SCA experience and give yourself some advice on how to prepare and what to expect, what would it be?

I would tell myself not to worry too much. To have faith in the kindness and generosity of the communities at my site.

All photos by Jessica Zamudio/NPS except for the banner photo by Diana del Solar/NPS