Kerry Edinger is the SCYP Program Support Graduate Employee, currently working toward her Master of Public Administration. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the University of Oregon Honors College. Her background is in statewide political and legislative advocacy, most recently serving as the Legislative Assistant to Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins. Kerry is inspired by the opportunity to improve quality of life for all Oregonians by making their communities more livable, sustainable, and connected. On the weekends, you’ll find Kerry climbing, hiking, and cooking vegan food to fuel her adventures.
This summer, we lent Kerry and her diverse range of skills to the City of Albany, to help them transition from engaging in our year-long partnership, to implementing the ideas UO students presented them. We went to the source to find out what happened.
On what she's been working on
Right now, I'm focused on the 26-acre East Thornton Lake Natural Area project. It's an area that the City purchased a handful of years ago, with the intent to preserve turtle and other species' habitats, honor the Kalapuya native cultural history of the site, but also to create a natural space for community members to learn and enjoy.
Thirteen students produced park concept plans that incorporate the City's ecological, cultural, and community-focused goals, and one student group delivered a passive solar greenhouse concept. Now, I'm writing the proposals for a consultant to produce a park design based on said student work, and incorporating community feedback about those concepts. I'll get to lead the selection process, and will continue working with the consulting team for the duration of my internship, through december 2017.
I’m also analyzing the work of two different classes on the Parks & Recreation Department budget. UO Graduate students worked on strategies for the department to increase capital and operational revenue, then UO business students analyzed the P&R business model to find alternatives to increase revenue sources.
I'm working with the Planning Department to produce a report to City Council that will summarize the outcomes of student work on each project. This is exciting, because the City Council was the ultimate authority in deciding to fund the City's partnership with SCYP, and now, we get to go back to them and show them how valuable, interesting, and energizing the student work products are going to be for the City. It's also great for my professional development, because it means I'll get to work on each project, and have this small part in helping move all of the SCYP projects forward toward implementation.
On her favorite part of the experience
I've been given the opportunity to stretch beyond my comfort zone. I spend a lot of time thinking about how things can be done better and smarter - more effectively.
Like writing the proposal - I'd never even read an entire RFP before this job! I appreciate that the City is taking my role as an "intern" so seriously, giving me these kinds of opportunities.
On the obstacles she's encountered
I can't bike to work! The commute from Eugene to Albany really isn't that bad a few days a week, but the fact remains that I'm not local to Albany. It means I don't have all of the context for the community, or know the neighborhoods. Growing up in Corvallis, though, means I haven't lost all credibility with the office Beaver fans!
On how SCYP work will impact the City of Albany
The Parks & Recreation Department is eager to get the East Thornton Lake Natural Area Project started, which will incorporate a ton of student work. The Planning Department is working hard on historic preservation options provided by journalism students, and equity mapping analysis research. I think the City intends to implement changes based on outcomes from each project, and it's exciting for me to see how much the Albany staff value the work that students put hundreds of hours into. Once they've had time to work through each project, the student impacts will be tangible all over the community.
On transitioning from SCI to Albany (...and SCI's coffee shortcomings)
It has been very smooth. Albany has a coffee machine, and SCI doesn't, so I'm pretty much set.
On what she's learned
I'm going to be much more attuned to the city parter perspective from now on. It takes a few deeply dedicated individuals who want to see something big like SCYP happen in their community, a lot of staff time, and a communal buy-in to support the projects. Seeing this first-hand has deepened my appreciation for the challenges that SCYP partners are facing. I think that sometimes, after students complete their final presentation and report, they wonder if the work they just spent 10 weeks perfecting will go to waste. I can now reassure them that the City puts careful thought into each project students work on; it's been great to see that value in action.
On where she goes from here
This experience has solidified my desire to work for local government after I graduate with my Master of Public Administration in June 2018, and I have to say that I love working for the Parks & Recreation Department! I'm confident that all of these experiences - my MPA program, working for SCI, and interning with the City of Albany - will help me find meaningful work where I get to contribute to a community every day.