Working Towards A Goal: 2016 NPS Academy Graduate Nina Lagpacan

Nina Lagpacan’s is a graduate student in the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Yale School of Management in the joint Master of Environmental Management/ MBA program. She is a recent graduate of the 2016 NPS Academy, having just completed her internship with Grand Teton. Here she shares some experiences, insights, and goals from her 10-week summer experience.


Nina enjoying the view.

I couldn’t think of a better way to get to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service than to be living and working at Grand Teton National Park. This is my third season working for the NPS, but I’m trying a new role this summer as a member of the GIS/hydrology team through the NPS Academy Internship program. Some field days included anything from startling baby bears on the trail to canoeing across gorgeous lakes, watching a bald eagle fly overhead, and taking backpacking trips to monitor glaciers.

The projects I worked on this summer can be grouped into three broad categories: creating physical map products, modeling stream flow, and monitoring glaciers. I’ll direct you to my final story map presentation if you want to find out more details about these projects.

I definitely built upon my GIS and GPS skills this summer and was very fortunate to have such a knowledgeable team to support me this summer. It was fascinating to learn about glaciers and their role in studying the effects of climate change, which was a nice change from my experience studying the biological sciences.

One of the most valuable aspects of my experience this summer was having the opportunity to shadow other divisions and conduct informational interviews. I was even able to sit down with Superintendent David Vela to gain his perspective and insight on the NPS. Learn about different divisions of the park just as I have this summer by exploring this interactive stakeholder map. Look at Section 9- Shadowing Opportunities and Informational Interviews. You can view some of my main takeaways from each of these conversations.

Overall, the NPS Academy program provided the support I needed to set me up to accomplish a lot of my short term and long term goals. I also really appreciated working with people who value promoting diversity and inclusion in parks. Programs like the NPS Academy give me hope that the NPS will be able to adapt to our ever growing diverse American population.


Nina on site at Schoolroom Glacier.

I’m both excited and nervous to seek out full-time opportunities with the NPS or other federal land management agencies, and I’m looking forward to seeing out my goal to become a sound natural resource manager.

Congrats, Nina! We look forward to seeing what you accomplish in your future.

NPS Academy is an annual, Foundation-funded program in Grand Teton National Park. Learn more about this incredible program.

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