2022-23 Earth Grant alum Gabriella Parra is spending her summer living and working in Zion National Park through the Latino Heritage Internship Program. This piece originally appeared on the Latino Heritage Intern blog, where you can follow Gabriella’s journey.
Hi everyone! My name is Gabriella Parra. I am from Tucson, Arizona, and I will be a community outreach intern this summer at Zion National Park! My mom, my step-dad, and I took the eight and a half hour road trip from Tucson to Zion. Nothing beats driving into Zion National Park for the first time. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. We drove in from the East entrance through Mt. Carmel highway. While you’re driving through the tunnel, there are little windows that you pass by that give you just a peak of the canyon, building up anticipation. Then, finally, you see the canyon for the first time exiting the dark tunnel that quickly opens up to the sunny, seemingly infinite canyons. It was breath taking.
Since then, I have moved into the dorm housing along with other interns from various different programs and seasonal employees. I’ve found the housing to be comfortable, and it’s really nice to have a 10 minute walk through Zion as a commute! I appreciate being in a cohort of interns, it has been fun to be apart of a group who are learning the process together and form a sense of comradery. We have been able to do several hikes, go out to eat in nearby towns, and have movie nights.
Overall, this last week and half of living in Zion has been life changing. I’ve gotten to challenge myself in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to before, like trying rock climbing for the first time! While training, I’ve gotten to learn so much about the natural history of this park. Fun fact: Zion National Park is the only location to have the geological “temple caps.” In training, I also learned about all the departments that work together to manage one of the most visited parks in the United States.
I feel so honored to be here and to be working on my LHIP project focused on researching Hispanic heritage in Utah and helping Latinos feel more included in outdoor recreation. I’m so excited to see where my research takes me, and I can’t wait to share that with you all.
Until then, bien día!