From Textiles to Trees

AsF on ALCA4Abby Sue Fisher (Ph.D ‘92 Textiles & Clothing) never planned to work for the National Park Service (NPS). But a few days after submitting her dissertation on racial identity and appearance in colonial Mexico, she accepted a job as a regional museum specialist in the NPS midwest office. While she wasn’t working with textiles, she drew from experience with historic preservation and museums. And that first position led to a rich career with the National Park Service.

She’s since worked for parks throughout the west and midwest, most recently as chief of cultural resources at Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Her current park offers some site-specific challenges. “We have an urban park that is 65 miles long. What’s unusual is people are often in part of the park but don’t realize it: they don’t cross a threshold entering some of the bigger parks. Here it’s just part of the urban landscape,” she said. Her day-to-day varies, but always includes collaboration and critical thinking. Because they work with so many external partners, “people always have input. It’s really exciting and challenging, dealing with all the points of view.”

Fisher may not work directly with the subject matter she studied in our apparel studies program, but she continues to draw from the skills she developed in the program. “My PhD helped me look at things analytically and make informed decisions based on facts and circumstances,” she explained.

Her advice to students and recent graduates? “There are hidden values in anything you do that you can apply to your career. I meet a lot of young people, and I tell them how valuable waitressing was for me: addition, multitasking, basic people skills.” And above all, appreciate your classes and assignments in the movement. “It was fantastic, I dream of those days. Be patient and enjoy where you are!”


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Photo credit: IceNineJohn and Fazia_ via Creative Commons

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