It’s taken almost three months, but Rachel Senzee is starting to feel settled into her job with Jefferson City.
Senzee recently started working as a neighborhood services specialist in the city’s Department of Planning and Protective Services.
“I feel like I’m starting to get a grasp on how the different programs work and what my role is,” Senzee said. “Now it’s just to start doing.”
Senzee’s role involves a mix of things, from organizing trash and recycling pick-up to historic preservation in the city. That variety is what she enjoys most.
“It’s kind of a mixed bag when you come in, and that’s one of the reasons why I like it,” Senzee said. “It’s something different every day. It’s constantly keeping things moving, so you have all these different balls in the air and you’re trying to catch them before they fall.”
Neighborhood services specialists also have a hand in managing various grants the city receives, which was nothing new for Senzee. She’s been working with or around grants for years.
Senzee worked in a grant-funded position for the Missouri State Museum around 2009, going through the museum’s entire collection — taking out every artifact, filling out condition reports and filing them into databases.
In 2011, she went to the University of Arkansas to earn her master’s degree in public history.
Before coming to work for the city, she worked for Missouri State Parks as grants manager for eight years, which primarily involved finding funding for Missouri’s 91 state parks and historic sites. After a while, she reached a point where, despite enjoying her job, she felt unsure.
“It needed to either grow, or it was going to stay the same,” she said. “I was like, ‘I either need to grow something, or I need to let somebody else take over.’ Then I was kind of in limbo and happened to see this position open, and I thought, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’”
Despite not really being in the market for a new job, Senzee decided to take the chance. Part of the draw for her was curiosity.
“When I was with State Parks I worked with a lot of counties, cities and third-party entities, and I also wondered — it was always so different depending on where you were — and I wondered what it was like out there,” Senzee said. “What it was like on the other side.”
However, with the challenge of learning a new role comes frustration with not knowing everything right away.
“I really like to know how everything works. That’s one of the down sides of coming into a new job,” Senzee said. “It’s a relief to start to learn things and figure out what your role is.”
So far, Senzee is enjoying working with the Historic Preservation Commission. She said it’s been a busy part of her job, dealing with tornado damage in the historic areas of the city.
“It’s going to be, I think, bittersweet, because there’s going to be some good stories and some bad stories, but you can’t help it because it’s a natural disaster — that’s just how things go.”
For December’s HPC meeting, Senzee compiled a presentation on a group of 17 historic properties recently purchased by the Jefferson City School District. They were asking for permission from the commission to demolish them.
“I really like doing the property research,” she said. “I’ve lived here long enough now to where I start to pick out landmarks, and you learn stuff about these places that you drive by and you see every day, and you just take it as a landmark on your drive and not of note.
“Then you start to think about this person who lived there and raised their family there, and now I’m raising my family over here, and you see yourself fitting into a bigger piece of the local history.”
As far as the future, Senzee hopes to continue growing in her position and working to spread the word on the resources the city can provide.
She’s also working to revamp a Facebook page called Jefferson City Recycles, a task that was given to her but one she’s excited to work on.
“We put all sorts of different ideas on recycling. I think, as far as recycling goes, and up-cycling and reusing … it’s sometimes hard for people,” Senzee said. “It’s a big bite to chew, so one of the things I’m thinking about is taking small, little bites.”
Senzee is working on her own “little bite” right outside her office in City Hall. She’s putting together a snowman decoration made entirely of recycled materials. So far, the shape of her snowman — torn-up plastic bags — and his coal buttons — painted plastic bottle lids — are in place. The rest will come along soon.
“It’s just little things,” she said. “Doing very manageable things that don’t necessarily take away from your way of living, but just maybe make you a little more conscientious.”