Recent CLA Graduate Lands Dream Job as Historian for National Park Service
History, Public Lands | August 12, 2013
Last semester, one could find Christy Dickinson in the History GTA office in the Clark Building, working diligently and creating memories with her fellow GTAs. “My best memories are from the History GTA office, where conversations moved easily from history, to personal, to a historian’s argument, to a joke… it was the best,” said Dickinson. Now, only several months later, Dickinson can be found in the National Park Service’s Intermountain Regional Office in Denver, working as a historian for the National Park Service’s Heritage Partnership Program.
Dickinson, a 2013 CSU graduate with an M.A. in History, has found a way to integrate two of her passions, history and preserving public lands, through her new position at the National Park Service. “I feel so fortunate that I have a job that allows me to combine these passions, and am excited to see where it takes me personally and professionally,” said Dickinson.
Heritage Partnership Program
As a historian for the Heritage Partnership Program, Dickinson provides technical assistance to partner organizations of the National Park Service, such as nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, tribes, and local governments in the Intermountain Region. The Heritage Partnership Program’s mission is to extend the National Park Service’s mission beyond the National Parks.
Though Dickinson started the position this summer, she is already engaged in several projects. She is currently working with the Bureau of Land Management to research and write short histories of the agency’s historic hydroelectric power plants. These histories will appear on the National Park Service’s website “Discover our Shared Heritage.” She is also working on projects with the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program and the National Historic Landmarks Program.
Public Lands History Center at CSU
Dickinson believes that her work with CSU’s Public Lands History Center (PLHC) helped give her the hands-on experience necessary to be successful at her current job. While completing her master’s, Dickinson completed an internship through the PLHC in which she wrote an administrative history for the Fort Collins Water Utilities. “My project for the Fort Collins Utilities provided me the opportunity to apply the ideas and methods from the classroom to a project that related to my career goals. Along with the challenge of researching and writing history, I learned how to communicate with a partner about what they wanted and what history meant to them,” said Dickinson.
Working closely with PLHC faculty and fellow researchers, Dickinson wrote a report which highlighted the complex relationships between water, the environment, and infrastructure development in Fort Collins’ history. Dickinson’s work with the PLHC has proven to be useful for her position at the National Park Service: “Two big lessons I learned from the project, and that are helping me in my new job, are the importance of building relationships and the use of language in public history,” she said.
Not only is Dickinson living her passion through her new job as a historian, she is inspired by the passion of her coworkers: “I have enjoyed seeing the passion of the people around me. They have unique skill sets and work together to help our partners preserve American history,” she said.
The Public Lands History Center at Colorado State University assists public and private organizations in using history accurately and effectively to develop public lands management alternatives through ongoing research opportunities for CSU faculty and graduate students. For more information about the PLHC, click here.
For more information about the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Programs, click here.
Contact: Lindsey Middendorf
Phone: (970) 491-2374