Park Service pushes for more Native representation in top-level jobs

The National Park Service has two top-level jobs open in Alaska right now. One of those is here in Bristol Bay – Katmai National Park and Preserve out of King Salmon is hiring for a superintendent, and so is Western Arctic National Parklands out of Kotzebue.

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Katmai Calder, glacier, and Mt Griggs (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)
Katmai Calder, glacier, and Mt Griggs (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)

The Park Service is pushing for more Alaska Natives and locals to apply for those jobs.

When Adrienne Fleek joined the National Park Service as the Alaska Native Affairs Liaison a year ago, she and some colleagues decided to take a hard look at the demographics of who the Park Service employs.

“So we gathered some statistics. 20% of Alaska is Alaska Native or American Indian, but here at the Park Service we only employ about 4% of that group. So we’re very underrepresented,” Fleek said.

Fleek said higher-ups within the Park Service are recognizing the value in hiring homegrown land managers.

That’s due in part to people like Jeanette Koelsch, a Nome Native who a few years ago became superintendent of the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. Fleek said Koelsch’s familial and cultural ties in the region allowed her to become more effective, more quickly

“She has an ability to connect with the tribes in the area and local constituents,” Fleek said. “People understand they can trust her. And she also understands that the tribes and the community have that government-to-government relationship. So I’ve seen that she’s been able to do a high level of consultation on any land management issue. So it’s a really big success story of getting that local involvement.”

Fleek hopes that high-level employees like Koelsch will, in turn, inspire more locals and Alaska natives to apply to jobs at all levels of the Park Service.

But she realizes there are many barriers, including an application with job requirements that might seem intimidating … Fleek’s advice to local applicants? Write that ten-page resume. Go ahead and brag about any and all experience that shows your management abilities.

“If you didn’t have the exact experience they’re describing, you might have had something similar,” Fleek said. Like, maybe you haven’t done law enforcement planning, but you’ve done subsistence resource planning, some very similar efforts… so go ahead and put that into your comprehensive resume. It’s very different than the private sector, where you’re supposed to be brief with a one-page resume. In the federal government, it’s supposed to be as comprehensive as possible.”

The deadline to apply for the head positions at Katmai and Western Arctic is Thursday, June 23rd. You can find that application at

Hannah Colton is a reporter at a in Dillingham.

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