Bethany Henry, Neosho, is following in her mother’s footsteps as being a part of the National Park Service.
Bethany’s mother is Lana Henry, with George Washington Caver National Monument.
Bethany has been working at the Arkansas Post National Memorial, Gillett, Ark. She is a second year doctoral student at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, studying history with an emphasis on Native American studies.
“My first position was at Fort Scott (Kan.) National History Site then at Pea Ridge (Ark.) National Military Park and now I'm at Arkansas Post National Memorial,” said Bethany. “But my time with the park service began from infancy, when our family would sing and perform at the annual Carver Day and Prairie Day celebrations at George Washington Carver National Monument. I remember being very young and volunteering at Carver helping to serve food, run Junior Ranger programs, pick up trash, or perform gospel songs for the visitors. It was in the seventh grade when our class took a field trip to Carver and my mom gave the tour that it finally hit me: ‘I want to be a Park Ranger! I want to wear that hat!’ I wanted to be just like my mom. The family joke is that someone out of the seven of us had to!”
Bethany said her mother inspired her to work for the National Park Service.
“It’s a huge, huge honor to walk in her footsteps. She is the hardest worker I know, respected by the community and park family, and the best mom in the world,” she said. “Even with her heavy loads at work and any challenges she has placed God and her family first and the Lord has blessed her for it. I am blessed to carry on her legacy and honored to wear the green and grey... just like my madre!”
Her duties at Arkansas Post are to work with school groups providing educational programs, tours, and interpretive programs in the fur trade or interactions between the Quapaw and Europeans and also guide the Junior Ranger Program.
“I also conduct in-depth research on the Quapaw Indians, who lived at the confluence of the Mississippi, Arkansas, and White Rivers long before the Post was established by the French in 1683,” she said. “I enjoy working first-hand with the Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma, who work with us to develop educational and interpretive projects to expand the park's programs telling more of the native story. Working as a liaison between Indian nations and the federal government is my heart and passion. After receiving my doctorate I intend to continue working for the National Park Service as a cultural historian or tribal liaison. My passion for preserving Native American history and culture stems from my Cherokee ancestry.”
Bethany went through the Pathways Program of the Midwest Region Student Academy of the NPS.
“In 2009 I was recruited by the National Park Service under the Midwest Region Student Academy — a new program designed to incorporate diverse students into the park service,” Bethany said. “The Midwest Region Student Academy is under the federal Pathways Program, which pertains to all federal departments, including the Department of Interior. The academy places student employees in parks relevant to their interests and studies to help build skills, experiences, and provide training throughout their schooling. Upon graduation the student employee is converted to a permanent position within the National Park Service. I was one of only 19 selected for this program. The program has allowed me to work at three different parks gaining new experiences and skills while still completing each degree program.”
Bethany started working at Arkansas Post in the summer of 2013.
“The superintendent, Ed Wood, approached me about coming to due research on the Quapaw and work with the tribe because he knew of my interest and passion for cultural resource management,” she said. “During the summer, I work full time on-site and during the school year when I live in Fayetteville to attend classes for the PhD program I work part-time doing research.”
Along with this position, she is also busy planning her wedding.
“My fiancé (Jordan Rosenbaum) and I are getting married Oct. 18 in Neosho and plan to live in Fayetteville, where I will finish up my doctorate.”
She plans to finish her studies in 2017. Her doctorate will be in history with an emphasis in American Indian studies.