Abby Adkins is my park ranger mentor at the New River Gorge National River. She has worked as a ranger for most of her career and still has the energy of someone in their first week at a new job. Abby wrote the grant that brought the position I now have into existence. Her dedication to education in the parks is admirable, and inspires me to push through the post-lunch sleepiness.

Though she manages a campground, regular permanent ranger duties, and a small island, Abby still manages to spend plenty of time with me, coaching me on how to create a fun and functional self-led education program. She is understanding of my flaws and offers gratuitous praise of my strengths. She helps develop my ideas and reign them in when they get carried away.

Having a female mentor is one of my favorite things about this job. It is difficult to explain, but other young women who have had strong female role models and mentors can probably relate to the sense of comfort and possibility that having a woman supervisor elicits. Though I am confident in my ability to work under male supervisors, it is always heartening to see that a woman can, and does, hold the position you wish to someday have for yourself.


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