What's the Word?

An NPS Employee Newsletter - November

Employee Survey Feedback-- a message from Superintendent Frank Dean

Hello Team,

In our previous newsletter, I wrote about the value of public service. Equally important is how effectively we do our work and how well we take care of our employees. You may have seen the recent media coverage about federal employee morale and satisfaction survey results for all government agencies. The survey results for the National Park Service were disappointing. This prompted us to develop a brief survey of our own park staff to gain more specific insight on how we are doing and might improve.

The park specific employee survey results are in with a high (50%) return rate. Many commented on the positive aspects of our agency mission, beautiful work settings and the ability and attitude of their co-workers. There was also a consistent theme of too much workload and being short staffed. Others cited problems with the communication of information and priorities from management. The IT challenges at the Marin Headlands were also mentioned.

Deputy Superintendent Aaron Roth review the survey results and asked for more of your feedback during the All Employee Meetings recently. I hope you participated. We conducted this optional park level survey because our park leaders want to better understand the issues and how we can improve.

Last week we had a two day park leadership team retreat at the Marin Headlands to begin the development of a new Five Year Strategic Plan for the park. The first day was a candid review of the past five years and then a summary of the challenges ahead. We also spent a good amount of time on the results of the park specific employee survey. There are certainly some things noted in the survey that we can change and make better and we will strive to do so with your input. Other items such as compensation and Department mandated management systems are less within our ability to control. The honest feedback from the survey and our management discussion is healthy and helped to conclude our retreat on a positive note. We hear you, and yet, we also see how to improve work conditions and communications.

You are one of the best park teams of any national park in the nation. We will do what we can to enhance our work culture. You deserve it.

Frank Dean

Employees are Invited to the Annual Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz

Thursday, Nov. 27th 2014 at 4:15-6am

33 Pier

San Francisco, CA

Have you ever attended the Sunrise Ceremony on Alcatraz on Thanksgiving Day? It is a beautiful time to be on the island, and there is so much meaning behind the event. You will be off the Island early enough to still get home and prepare a full meal if that is your plan. Employees must RSVP with Wendy Solis at 415-561-4913 or wendy_solis@nps.gov to be put on the list to be allowed on the boat for free.


Thursday, November 27, 2014, boats will depart Pier 33 every 15 minutes from 4:15am to 6:00am

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Of Interest

Do You Know Your Escape Route?

You Should!

Escape Planning

  • According to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) survey, only one-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
  • Almost three-quarters of Americans do have an escape plan; however, more than half never practiced it.
  • One-third (32%) of respondents who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. The time available is often less. Only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!

Plan, plan, plan! Practice, practice, practice!

Employee Spotlight

SAFETY ALERT- Recently an Employee had a Close Call

Did you know that recently we had a vehicle stranded by an employee on a remote fire road in the park?

Our Safety Leadership team conducted an after action review of this incident and would like to share the following lessons learned:

  • Off-road travel can have a significant level of risk depending on specific factors
  • We recommend staff utilize a Green Amber Red (GAR) model to assess if the vehicle, the road conditions, their ability, and their communications (cell coverage or radio) are adequate for the task - we plan on laminating a GAR worksheet for use in our government vehicles
  • In this case, the employee had originally reserved 4x4 equipment but then found out it was unavailable. Be sure to revisit or re-evaluate your plan and your GAR when conditions change, and considering canceling the mission if you don't have the right equipment.
  • When visiting remote areas of the park, be sure to check out a radio from Building 201 if you do not have one available to your work group
  • And its always a good idea to remember as we approach what we hope is the rainy season, if the road looks like this, the mission is a "no-go"!

Keep these in mind and stay safe while driving off road.

Brown Bag Discussion About Factory Farming Awareness Coalition

Thursday, Dec. 11th 2014 at 12-1pm

Fort Mason, Building 201, San Francisco 941230

December Brown Bag Lunch - Thursday, December 11, 12-1pm, FOMA 201 First Floor. Samantha Pollak, representing Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (www.ffacoalition.org). This talk will offer a holistic overview of the impacts of industrial animal agriculture on everything from climate change to social justice. Samantha’s presentation is a must-see for people who care about food, our planet, and animals. About six years ago Samantha's love of animals lead her to become actively involved in animal welfare issues, and she has been energetically volunteering with FFAC for the past two years. She has done various presentations in East Bay High Schools and assists in all aspects of fundraising and educational events for the organization.


Below are links to the pages where you can see beautiful photos and where our interactions with the world through social media take place. Check them out!











If you have questions you can contact George Su, Alex Picavet or Olympia Zampathas for more information.

The Balloon Hangar Is Taking Off

The Balloon Hangar project at Fort Barry is underway! This project will stabilize the nationally significant historic structure that is in deteriorated condition. It is a surviving element of the U.S. Army’s brief experimentation using tethered balloons as part of the national system of coastal defenses. Constructed in 1921, the structure is the only surviving hangar of its type that housed an army balloon, and one of only two examples to survive in the nation.

What is the "Share Your Story" project?

As the keepers of America’s greatest treasures, we’re coming to you first with this opportunity to tell your personal story about your favorite or defining moment with the NPS. The Share Your Story project allows NPS employees to be among the very first people to express how they found their park.

What are we asking you to do?
Each one of our NPS employees has a unique experience and connection to the National Park Service, and its parks and programs. We want to hear YOUR story, your personal connection and the feelings that the National Park Service inspires in YOU. And when you tell us how you find your park, we want you to submit your stories in any way that you see fit. This could be in the form of videos, poems, songs, photos, art, essays – anything that you feel captures your story.

Where will these stories live?

For now, all employee stories will be on the Share Your Story Google site. In 2015, the NPS centennial office and the National Park Foundation will choose some of your stories to feature on an external Share Your Story gallery as part of the Find Your Park campaign.

This dynamic gallery will be an online destination meant to inspire the American public to share their own stories, interact, and learn about what makes the National Park Service and all its programs, partners, and places so special. A select few employee-submitted stories will be identified for an opportunity to be part of the NPS centennial campaign.

How can you submit a story?
Upload your narrative (Word doc or PDF), photograph, mp3 file, or video to the Share Your Story Google site: https://sites.google.com/a/nps.gov/share-your-story/home.

  • If your file is larger than 25MB, please use the internal file transfer protocol (ftp) site using these instructions.
  • Go to your Start Menu.Click “Computer”
  • In the address box, paste this link: ftp://ftp.den.nps.gov/incoming/WASO%20Office%20of%20Communications/Share%20Your%20Story/
  • Copy and paste your video clips into your newly created folder.
  • Send an email with the subject line “Share Your Story_Lastname” to nps_centennial@nps.gov to notify when your upload is complete.

All documents follow this naming protocol: Lastname_Firstname__SYS_Date

Thanks for being an active part of the National Park Service story!

The Employee Appreciation Day was a Hit

US Park Police participated in San Francisco Veterans Day Parade

The San Francisco Field Office Horse Mounted Officers Eric Evans, Irma Javier, Andrew Muller and Andrew Ewing and K-9 Officer Nyhung “Neil” Wu and his partner "Choco" participated in this year's Veterans Day Parade on November 9th.

They represented the Force and Golden Gate National Recreation Area well in honoring the men and women who have served this country, past, present and future.

Snapshot of Visitor and Resourse Protection and US Park Police Activities

Car Clouting at Northwest Bridge Parking-lot
On Friday November 14th, a vehicle was broken into in the Northwest bridge parking lot. The rear window was broken out of a rental van and two backpacks were taken. The backpacks contained approximate $15,000 in camera equipment and electronics, several credit cards, and personal property. The investigation is ongoing.

Arrest for Vandalism During Unpermitted Music Video Taping at Ocean Beach
Friday, November 14th, rangers contacted twelve people on Ocean Beach filming an unpermitted rap video. One arrest was made for vandalism near the Cliff House and the rest were given warnings for alcohol possession and filming without a permit.

Rangers’ Tires Slashed at Ocean Beach
On the evening of Saturday, November 15th, rangers on patrol at Ocean Beach wrote a large number of violation notices for offenses including: minors in possession of alcohol; glass on the beach; alcohol in a closed area; and fire violations. When the rangers returned to their patrol vehicles, they found the right rear tire on both vehicles had been slashed.

Two DUI Arrests
On the evening of Sunday, November 16th two separate arrests for DUI were made. A man found passed out behind the wheel in the Baker Beach parking lot, with the keys still in the ignition and an open container of alcohol, was arrested. A woman who did not stop at a stop sign in Fort Baker was then found to be under the influence of alcohol and subsequently arrested.

VF Imagewear Uniform Website is now open for ordering

The VF Imagewear Uniform Website is now open for ordering, thank you for your patience through the delays.

Supervisors: Please send Allison Cryns a list of your staff that need a uniform allowance this season.

Staff: Please go to www.vfsolutions.com/lma and check your National Park Service allowance balance, if you do not have an allowance, please contact your supervisor.

For efficiency and budget reasons we ask that individuals go through their supervisors for initial uniform allowance requests. If there are other uniform ordering issues (login information, contact email, delivery address, etc.) staff can contact allison_cryns@nps.gov directly for assistance.

Nameplate ordering is also now available, please email allison_cryns@nps.gov for instructions.

Article from Business Insider: 11 Scientifically Proven Reasons You Should Go Outside

By Caileen | Wednesday, November 05, 2014 |

Dear Readers:

As you know, we (the people of Tec Labs) are big fans of the outdoors… Some of us are hunters, some are runners, there are those that hike, those that bike, some who fish, some who garden, and the list goes on! Basically, we love the outdoors and all types of greenery. We're staying true to our roots that began and anchor, our business: outdoor solutions since 1962! So imagine my excitement when, I came across an article outlining the benefits of… going OUTSIDE! The perfect subject for a Tec Labs post (am I right?). For the majority of us around here, it doesn't take a lot of convincing to get outside the four walls of the office or home. But, we realize there are some who may need a gentle "push." So here they are, the 11 scientifically proven reasons you should get outside:

  1. Improved short-term memory - A quick walking break outdoors during the work day can improve productivity by 20%.
  2. Restored Mental Energy - Cure "mental fatigue" by being in a "restorative environment," a.k.a. the great outdoors!
  3. Stress Relief - Scientists believe that "Forest Therapy" can reduce the hormone often used as a marker for stress (cortisol), as well as reduce heart rate.
  4. Inflammation - Researchers believe that inflammation, the body's natural process to respond to threats such as damage (stubbing your toe) and pathogens (exposure to flu), can be lowered by spending more time outdoors!
  5. Improved Concentration - Scientists suggest, "Doses of nature might serve as a safe, inexpensive, widely accessible new tool… for managing ADHD symptoms, as well as waning attention."
  6. Sharper Thinking & Creativity - Various studies have concluded that "nature therapy" can restore attention and memory. In one study, after four days spent in nature, participants boosted their performance on a creative problem-solving test by 50%!
  7. Immune System Boost - In a 2010 review of previous research related to "forest therapy," scientists determined, "all of these findings strongly suggest that forest environments have beneficial effects on human immune function."
  8. Improved Mental Health - According to a culmination of studies, "…anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues may all be eased by some time spent in the great outdoors - especially when that's combined with exercise."
  9. Reduced Risk of Early Death - According to a Dutch study of 250,782 people, "The percentage of green space in people's living environment has a positive association with the perceived general health of residents."
  10. 10. Better Vision - For the kiddos anyway! A 2012 review concluded, "Increasing time spent outdoors may be a simple strategy by which to reduce the risk of developing myopia and its progression in children and adolescents."
  11. 11. Possible Anti-Cancer Effects - Studies conducted in Japan have found a connection between heavily forested areas and reduced mortality rates due to cancer. Scientists state, "While there are too many confounding factors to come to a concrete conclusion about what this might mean, it's a promising area for future research."

Not only are we lovers of the outdoors, we as a company, also whole-heartedly believe in living a healthy and well life! So the next time you're sitting at your desk and find yourself "stuck in a rut," give yourself a 5-10 minute break to get outside and refresh! Or, if you've been sitting on the couch all day, get up and go for a walk outside for some fresh air and a jump-start! Stressed out? Get outside! Need a boost? Get outside! The benefits are aplenty, just go for it!

Live life. Get outdoors!™

Reference article: http://www.businessinsider.com/11-reasons-you-should-go-outside-2014-4

Send Your Feedback About this Newsletter!

This newsletter is created by the Public Affairs Office to keep staff updated on the happenings around the parks. If you feel we missed something, want to suggest a story, or have a correction, please email us at alexandra_picavet@nps.gov.