Park Pride welcomes wave of summer interns!

We have an incredible group of fellows and interns working with us this summer, including (L to R, front to back) Avery Evans, Israel Todd, Joyah Mitchell, Darshan Singh, Mary Flatt and Lauren Anderson Pirkle (not pictured). (Photo by Park Pride.)

Originally published on SaportaReport.

By Hannah E. Jones, Park Pride’s Marketing & Communications Manager

At Park Pride, we want great parks now … and in five years … and in five decades! We’re not only looking at the “right now,” but also considering the future of the green industry and actively helping bolster the next generation of environmental leaders.

To do so, we’re providing fellowship and internship opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students from universities across the state and beyond – including Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Georgia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Some have joined us through the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation (PIN), a program under Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, and Georgia Tech’s Center for Sustainable Communities Research and Education. These partnerships are instrumental in allowing us to provide more internship opportunities.

Park Pride’s 2024 fellows and interns include:

  • Avery Evans, Grantmaking Fellow
  • Israel Todd, Community Services Fellow
  • Mary Flatt, Visioning Intern
  • Joyah Mitchell, Visioning Intern
  • Lauren Anderson Pirkle, Visioning Intern
  • Darshan Singh, Community Services Intern

Park Pride’s Parks for All campaign is deeply rooted in equity and investing in those efforts, which is why we are committed to helping build the incoming generation of green leaders and changemakers from a diverse range of backgrounds and universities. With support from Parks for All, we have intentionally changed our internship program to provide living wages, so these opportunities are available to all students.

Parks and greenspaces touch our lives in many ways – including health, social connection, the economy and sustainable infrastructure, to name a few. While all our fellows and interns may not necessarily build careers within the parks industry, we are confident that they will walk away with skills and knowledge to help build stronger, healthier and more sustainable communities in any field they pursue.

And the impact of these efforts is already being felt!

After about nine months in her fellowship position, Avery recently transitioned into a permanent, full-time role with Park Pride as a Grantmaking Associate. In this position, she will support the growing Grantmaking Program by communicating with Friends of the Park groups and, internally, will help coordinate program administration, including documentation and program metrics.

When seeing the fellowship position last fall, Avery thought, “This is perfect for me; this is exactly what I want to do.”

She continued: “[Before joining the team,] I was thinking a lot about green space equity, community involvement, financial structures and policy. It seemed like a really great fit for me to see what was going on in Atlanta and be in a space where people are thinking creatively and trying out different ways to make the city and green space work for everyone.”

Next month, our Community Services Fellow Israel will conclude her six-month fellowship with Park Pride to spend the rest of the year working with Cox Enterprises on their sustainability efforts.

With an interest in nutrition and its link with environmental sustainability, equity and holistic health, Israel has started her career with a focus on initiatives to improve the quality of life for all. In her role with Park Pride, Israel has used her prior experience to assist the Community Services team with social sustainability and community engagement efforts.

“[Before working with Park Pride,] I never knew that parks and greenspaces require so much planning, time and collaboration,” Israel said. “I’ve learned [how important it is] to really know your city and know how your work is going to affect different groups of people. Trust is the most important thing to build first.”

This summer, our interns will help support efforts across our Visioning and Community Services programs, getting hands-on experience in Atlanta’s parks and greenspace sector.

Darshan was drawn to Park Pride’s community-driven approach and is interested in working with the Community Services team to further engage and serve Atlantans. He said that he’s always enjoyed spending time in parks and is glad for the “chance to help support the sorts of spaces that I had growing up.”

Joyah’s interest was also piqued by Park Pride’s bottom-up model and as a visioning intern, she’s looking forward to learning about how the public and private sectors work together to support constituents. She plans to bring these new skills and knowledge with her as she pursues her long-term career goal of serving as a city manager for a small to mid-sized Southern city.

For Mary, some of her favorite experiences so far have been the public meetings for the W.D. Thomson Park Vision Plan. Led by our registered landscape architects, this program provides professional park design assistance to community groups free of charge. She’s enjoyed seeing “how the Friends of the Park groups step up and work with the team to create a really effective plan.”

As an Atlanta native, Lauren has been following Park Pride’s work for years and was excited about the opportunity to get hands-on experience. After graduating, she hopes to pursue a career in landscape architecture and urban planning to help create meaningful and ecologically rich community spaces.

“I really wanted to be a part of Park Pride’s mission and to learn more about park planning, community outreach and design,” Lauren said. “My time at Park Pride has allowed me to gain experience doing just that in the North Druid Hills neighborhood [with the W.D. Thomson Vision Plan.]”

As we continue with a focus on equity and building a more diverse workforce, Park Pride is thrilled to offer these work opportunities to young people interested in parks and greenspaces and aim to nurture their passion for making the world a better place.

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