Situated just 20 minutes away from the Rhodes campus, Shelby Farms Park occupies approximately 4,500 acres of land, making it one of the largest urban parks in the United States. This spring semester, with the guidance of Rhodes’ Career Services office, Becky Kempf ’17 served as a development intern with the park. Says Kempf, an urban and educational studies major, “I am very interested in working with the nonprofit sector, and this internship was a good window to see what that working world is like.”
Kempf also found Shelby Farms to be the perfect laboratory in which to use skills learned in the classroom. With her knowledge of Geographic Information System (GIS), a computer system designed to manipulate and manage spatial and geographical data, she was able to conduct two projects on her own for the park.
Kempf’s first project focused on the many benches located throughout the park. She first photographed each one and then pinpointed its exact location on a GIS map, making it easier for the park to maintain the benches and to connect them with potential sponsors. Kempf’s second project used the rental and reservation information on file at the park to locate on a GIS map each visitor’s home address. The purpose of this project was to emphasize that people from all over Memphis—and even from out of state—frequently use Shelby Farms Park, information that will help the park to secure funding in the future. Kempf was in charge of completing both of these important projects from beginning to end and says, “I actually helped the park in its long-term success.”
In addition to the GIS mapping projects, Kempf helped develop internet ads to promote the park. Aside from her internship, Kempf enjoyed the activities offered at Shelby Farms, which include biking and hiking trails, laser tag, fishing, paddle boating, and bison watching. Her favorite attraction is the Go Ape Treetop Adventure, where park-goers explore the forest canopy via a treetop rope course. Says Kempf, “Shelby Farms offers so many different programs, events, and opportunities that everyone can connect and interact with nature in their own way.”
This summer, Kempf is the program coordinator for Rhodes’ Summer Service Fellowship, which provides fellowships to students to engage in community projects while also participating in group programming on campus. But even in this position, she found a way to promote the park. As part of the fellows’ group experience, Kempf has arranged for a guided tour of the park and invited as a special guest Rhodes alumna Jen Andrews—who also just happens to be the executive director of Shelby Farms Park.
By Drew McCormick ’18