“We’re going to the lake!” For Adriana, these words were the first sign of summer. In the days that followed, the Petrungaro family would load the RV, lace up their hiking shoes, and tow the boat out of the driveway. Several weekends of Adriana’s summer break were spent on public lands, enjoying the surrounding nature and participating recreation opportunities.
By her sophomore year of college, Adriana was on the hunt for a summer internship. She stumbled across a position in the Pathways program, an initiative designed to provide career opportunities for college students and train the next generation of Forest Service employees. She recalled back to her exciting summers and grew excited at possibly having a role in managing public lands that had brought her so much joy. She applied and received the position, beginning in June 2018 as the Public Affairs Student Trainee on the Kaibab National Forest.
Since then, Adriana successfully completed the program and will soon convert into a full time position as a Public Affairs Specialist for the Forest Service Human Resources Management, based out of the Albuquerque Service Center in New Mexico.
What was the favorite part of your job in the Pathways program?
In my time on the Kaibab National Forest, I wrote press releases, managed social media, photography events and locations, design graphics and printed products, coordinated public outreach events, and generally helped out with anything needed in our public affairs team.
Working in public affairs has been a great opportunity to share the fantastic work of our employees and partners with the public. I’m honored that I can tell those stories - the Forest Service does some pretty amazing things! Beyond that, I’ve always been so enthralled by how passionate our employees are about our natural resources and the ways they help conserve them. It’s truly unparalleled by many other industries.
Describe a recent, current, or upcoming project that you’re currently working on.
Recently, I developed a social media campaign called Saturday Showcase. Every other Saturday, we release a post sharing forest accomplishments, projects, partners, or employees that exemplify the spirit of the Forest Service and the spirit of the Kaibab. The campaign is branded with a logo I designed and uses call-to-action links for the public to engage with. The posts have been very well received and are some of the most audience engaged posts in the Kaibab’s social media history.
How would you like the public to perceive the work we do at the Forest Service?
Before starting my career with the Forest Service, I was just like many of the folks I communicate with now. I didn’t fully understand what and why the agency did what it did. I’ve brought that perspective into everything I’ve done, attempting to convey things in understandable and realistic ways. As an agency, we actively pursue what is in the best interest of both our local environment and the individuals who enjoy those public lands. Our work is important and, frankly, pretty awesome. I’m so happy I’m able to share these stories with local and national audiences.
Who or what inspired you growing up?
My mom has always been my number one inspiration. She’s an awesome lady who has gotten through some really tough moments in life. She’s always been so endlessly supportive of everything I do and really is my biggest cheerleader. I hope one day to be at least half of the mother and woman that she is.
What do you like to do for fun on your free time?
I’m a huge nerd! I love playing video games, designing costumes, and attending comic conventions. Other than that, I really enjoy cooking. There’s nothing quite like coming home from a day of work and making yourself a delicious meal.
What is your highest personal and professional achievement?
It’s hard to pick one since I’ve had so many opportunities and achievements in the past couple years. I graduated in December with my Bachelor of Science in Strategic Communications and Public Relations. I was able to accomplish that degree in three and a half years, which I’m very proud of!
Getting my position with the Kaibab National Forest was absolutely a huge achievement. In my time here, I have worked with some fantastic people and create products for the public. I’ve had stories featured in local newspapers, state-wide resources, and even nationally within the Forest Service. I’m incredibly grateful that programs like Pathways exist, as it’s truly set me up for a bright career and future.
How has your education, background, or personal experiences prepared you for the work that you will now do at your new job?
Growing up, I had a deep love for reading and writing. Pairing that with a salesman father, I fell in love with the arts of marketing and public information. Thanks to my work on the Kaibab, my skills and experience have grown significantly, setting me up with the knowledge and expertise to confidently communicate with the public.
For this reason, I’m a huge advocate for opening up more internship opportunities for college students and recent graduates across our agency. It’s a fantastic way to not only bring on extra help during the busy seasons, but also provide experience and grow necessary skills young professionals require to be successful in the workforce.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to serve their country as a Forest Service employee?
Absolutely! If you are a young college student or recent graduate, I highly recommend seeking out a Pathways or seasonal internship position. My time in the Pathways program has been helpful in so many ways, in terms of networking, skillset, and general knowledge of land and resource management. Also, if you’re not from a Forestry background (like myself), don’t let the lingo scare you! We tend to use a lot of acronyms, often in quick succession, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and get clarification.