Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Start of a Journey



Hello all my name is Josh Leahy, one of the members of cohort 6 who together have recently begun the journey to become law enforcement park rangers for the National Park Service. Though this will not be an easy task I know together we make a strong team that is more than ready for the challenge that awaits us.
To get where I am today as part of this journey I must take you back to my childhood. Growing up in Southern New Hampshire in a small suburban town named Londonderry I spent a lot of time outdoors exploring and discovering the world around me. With plenty of apple orchards, trails, and beautiful scenery I had an amazing setting to cultivate my love for the outdoors. Simultaneous and separately I remember around this age going on one of my first field trips around the town. The purpose of this field trip was to discover the history of the area around us. This was the first memory I have of becoming enthralled in history. Learning about everything from the founding of the town to the fact the man our school was named after, Matthew Thornton, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. This experience had helped start in me a great appreciation for history that often lead to me over reading chapters assigned in history class just to learn that little bit more.
To leave my journey just in my childhood would be to dismiss the next very important steps I took to be where I am today. As I grew older I often found myself hearing similar advice to follow the proven path to business school and get a comfortable safe job selling insurance. Though logical through the years my true nature would pull me away from this decision. Through seminars on economics, uninspiring financial seminars, and lukewarm internships spent ending in declined job offers I found myself looking towards a new path. Finding myself pulled by passion I began to look for a career and life I would value and be dedicated towards. Whether being pulled by my never ending itch for the outdoors or continuing appreciation for history I discovered the Pro Ranger Program and immediately went to the information session. The one thing I remember vividly from this presentation is when Ranger Fernandez told me, “there is not one person at this job who will not tell you it is the best in the world.” After hearing that I had no doubt. I am here today ready to begin my journey, together with my fellow cohort, on the best job in the world.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The First of Many Posts

Hello! My name is Kyle Maurer. I am a junior history major at Temple University, and I'm excited to be part of the newest cohort in the ProRanger program. As I was grew up, the National Park Service's sites and its mission played an important role in shaping my interests. I have been fascinated by history since I was young, and visits to National parks, battlefields, and historic sites helped to further develop that interest into a passion. Likewise, visits to National Parks helped foster an interest in both historic and nature conservation. My interest in becoming a Park Ranger was piqued two years ago during a service trip in Arizona with the Sierra Club. On this trip I helped do basic conservation work, and the combination of working outdoors and learning about the need for conservation in that environment intrigued me. I also met and spoke with a retired Park Ranger and for the first time I considered working as a Park Ranger. 


When I first heard about the ProRanger program, I was immediately drawn to it – the chance to work in such a unique field with purpose was simply too good to pass up. While I missed the deadline to apply that year, in that time I tried to learn all that I could about the ProRanger program and the National Park Service, so I did my research, volunteered over the summer, and spoke to several Park Rangers about their work. While I do not yet know where I will be for my summer internship, I am already counting the days. For this first internship, I won't have any say in where I will be going, but I am looking forward to being thrown into a new environment. Since my destination is still a mystery, I'm keeping my goals for the summer straightforward – I want to keep busy and gain as much experience as possible in the hope of gaining a better understanding of how the National Park Service operates and my responsibilities as a law enforcement park ranger.

Took a little while, but I made it

           Hello, my name is John Hardie.  I am a senior psychology major at Temple University, and after what seems like a great deal of time, a member of the Proranger program’s cohort 6.  When I first heard about the program in my sophomore year, I was pretty excited.  I had been losing interest in my psychology major and was searching for alternatives without much success.  With the thought of life after college weighing on me and little direction to invest my energies in, the email I received informing me of this program seemed like some kind of divine intervention, a cosmic coincidence if you will.  The idea of having a job after school was comforting.  The idea of a career spent outdoors, with varied activities, protecting the country’s most beautiful and significant places, felt like the direction I had been looking for.  There was only one problem.
          In my lack of satisfaction with my course of study, amongst other things, I had made plans to give myself some very literal direction, if only for a few months.  That direction was south.  When it came time to apply to the program, most of my arrangements had already been made for my southbound through-hike of the Appalachian Trail in the summer through fall of 2015.  As such, I would not be able to participate in the first summer internship or begin the coursework for the program.  Though I recognized the uniqueness of Proranger, the opportunity to hike the trail was something I could not pass up.  The journey took me through several National Park units I had not been to, Harpers Ferry, Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains (as well as the trail itself); and it only reaffirmed my desire to spend time in nature and to make sure that others could continue to enjoy that pleasure.
          Growing up, I was fortunate enough to visit many National Parks, from Grand Canyon and Grand Teton, to Bryce and Zion, to Yellowstone and Yosemite, to Gettysburg and Valley Forge.  The beauty of the nature parks speaks for itself, though many cannot hear or choose to ignore it.  The cultural import of the historical parks is often overlooked as well, but is an essential part of being conscious of the past in order to be better prepared for the future.  Having spent most of the last year or so here in Philadelphia, I would definitely appreciate being in a nature park. However, I also have an appreciation for history, and wherever I find myself this summer I am sure I will learn a great deal and discover something to get excited about.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Allow Me To Introduce Myself

           Hello! Welcome to the first of many exciting blog posts from yours truly, Sam Vecchione. I am new to the ProRanger Program and can proudly say that I am more than excited to be a part of such an outstandingly motivated team. I am currently a junior Criminal Justice major at Temple and am a member of the Men’s Crew Team here at the university. I am a native of the Philadelphia area and being that I take a lot of pride from where I am from and who I spend my time with, I found it easy to find familiarity within the National Park Service. I thrive on being on a team and using my individual talents in conjunction with so many others to achieve something greater than all of us, and I know that the comradery in the NPS is something to be recognized. I am ready to wear the uniform and represent all the NPS has to offer. Being that there is so much, I am ready to learn quickly over the course of my internship.
            I touched upon this in my first activity as a ProRanger at the Defensive Tactics and Use of Force Training on January 29th, but my greatest attraction to the National Park Service was the opportunity to give back to the country that has given me so much. I owe everything that I was able to accomplish throughout my life to my parents and this country for giving me the chance to do so. Especially in today’s world, it is evident that the opportunities here are endless and I feel it is my duty and only in my benefit to act upon them. The ProRanger Program offered, in my opinion, a tremendous opportunity to serve the country in a field that I excel in and an environment that I can use my talents best.

            What do I mean by that last statement? Being a Law Enforcement Ranger for the NPS means serving those who appreciate the same amenities that I do, those amenities being the system of 417 units across the mainland and more. I have always had a fascination with being outside or immersing myself in the rich history of the United States since a young age. I found that the young man that I want to continue to grow as is best nurtured when I am outside, particularly in the beautiful landscapes and naturally-occurring architecture that is found all over the country. To me, it is nearly impossible to not feel a strong sense of pride and humility every time I overlook some stretch of land, waterway, or forest in front of me. The wilderness offers a sense of peace and motivation that John Muir so often would allude to in his writings. However, being that the NPS protects and interprets over 84 million acres of land, it is inevitable that law-enforcement is necessary to protect the resources that we hold so dearly. Being a member of this team provides the amount of like-mindedness, discipline, appreciation, and inspiration that I am looking for in my own life. I am excited to see what lies ahead of me in the National Park Service, and I am ready to take the necessary steps to learn what drives the organization and how I can be a part of it.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Monthly Activity: Use of Force Training

Hello Everyone, this is Tim Greene from Cohort 4. Last week we had the pleasure of visiting Independence National Historical Park for some training. The original plan was to spend half of our time talking about when to use the appropriate amount of force, and the rest of our time to practice control tactics. However, our discussion about use of force went so well with critical discussion points that we decided to keep it going for the duration of our training period.

Training Room at INDE
Our instructor was Supervisory Ranger McLeod, who we have worked with in the past. We began by learning about each other and our motivations, as there were people from 3 different cohorts present. It was important that we established why each of us wanted to be here because some of the topics we discussed were pretty gloomy, but it is part of what we will deal with as Law Enforcement Officers. The use of force training comes at a great time, because it something that we should start thinking about as early as possible on our career paths. As some of us have seen first hand at our internships, it is a "hot" time for law enforcement, so this type of training is crucial. 

Among many things, Ranger McLeod talked about the constitutional standard, reducing hesitation, and factual articulation. Balancing hesitation and aggression was also a major point, while stressing that more force soon equals less force later. We benefited greatly as it was more of a discussion format for much of the time, rather than a lecture. We watched videos where we practiced identifying facts, debated the appropriate use of force, and bounced ideas off of each other. We tried not to criticize the individual or be a "Monday morning quarterback" because in most cases, the officer was under extreme pressure and possibly felt as if their life was at risk. The major takeaway is that we will always be learning and should always have more training. The stress of the job and having your life at risk each and every shift can be demanding, so it is important to do all you can to stay in control of yourself, your peers, and the situation in whole. 

Many thanks to Supervisory Ranger McLeod and INDE for having us and hosting such a beneficial discussion. Be sure to check back for more blogs on our various activities during the school year.  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Program Visit: SHEN



I planned our visits to COLO and SHEN so we could spend the weekend camping and hiking at Shenandoah National Park.

But first, we made a stop along with way at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  We spent the afternoon with Ranger Matt Roland and his family, touring the park and earning some patches!  

The Rolands and the McGarveys.
Junior ProRanger with the grave of Stonewall Jackson's arm.




I also got to catch up with ProRanger alumnus Eric Morgan who has recently returned from FLETC and field training at SHEN.

Ranger Roland, Dr. McGarvey, Ranger Morgan and Junior ProRanger McGarvey
Shortly after getting settled in Shenandoah NP at Mathews Arms campground, where I should note there is no cell service, I broke a crown on my tooth!  Fortunately I was not in too much pain and we continued with the visit.  I'm just glad it was only a minor inconvenience -- it does make a person think about how used to cell service we have all gotten!  

The campground is in the North district where ProRanger Dan Bussell was working.  After a coincidental meeting with Dan and his supervisor Ranger Jacob Wahler we decided to have an impromptu meeting at the ranger station.  Just then they got a call to back up another ranger and I almost followed them to the call!  After a quick grocery trip, we worked our way down Skyline drive stopping to admire the sunset at every pulloff!

Sunset along Skyline Drive
Sunset along Skyline Drive



One of many bears on or near the road.

We later saw them again as they passed through the campground and learned of a missing hiker from a campsite just across from us.  Later Dan told me about their search – they found him later that evening, lost and dehydrated but otherwise fine.  SHEN is a busy park on the weekends!

































Aislin and I spent our weekend camping, exploring the park, attending ranger programs and getting started on our junior ranger badges.  We saw several bears by the roadside during our travels on Skyline Drive.
Dinner!

We ate s’mores for dinner (shhh!).

Lots of work to earn that badge!

Byrd Visitors Center at Big Meadows

Junior Ranger Program with Ranger Meredith!

Climbing is fun!

On our final morning, Dan met us at our campsite.  As I finished packed the car, I heard rustling the bushes and out emerged a smallish bear!  I scared him when I jumped in the car and slammed the door.  So, alas, no photos!  But, then I did remember all the rustling in the bushes that I heard from the tent each night.  I had assumed they were just deer - now I'm not sure.  I sure was glad that I had followed all of the park’s safety rules to properly store coolers and food items!!

Fun at the Dickey Ridge Visitors Center!
Working on the badge with ProRanger Dan Bussell.
Taking the junior ranger oath is serious business.
We spent the day with Dan on a hike, finishing our junior ranger badge and learning about Shenandoah NP and the law enforcement issues he has gotten to see this summer. 


ProRanger Bussell and Ranger Wahler.




We also moved back into cell phone range, so I made an emergency appointment with the dentist!  So, after a meeting with Ranger Jacob Wahler and presentation of the plaque, we hit the road for home!

Up next:  VAFO

Monday, November 7, 2016

Program Visit: COLO

I was accompanied on my visit to Colonial National Historical Park by Junior (Pro)Ranger Aislin.  After an uneventful drive, we arrived at COLO to visit ProRanger Taylor Johnson.

Our first stop was to the ranger station for a visit with Chief Ranger Steve Williams.  Program Manager Adrian Fernandez had stopped by COLO earlier in the summer and presented Chief Williams with the program plaques.  I was pleased to see that they were already hanging proudly on his office wall!  Chief Williams presented Aislin with a park ranger doll and she scored some awesome Centennial tattoo bling!

ProRanger Taylor Johnson and Chief Ranger Steve Williams
Colonial NHP has been a five summer participant in the ProRanger Program (the superintendent has the 2016 plaque!)
You can't beat this for Centennial bling!














I was also thrilled to see ProRanger alumnus Wayne Lamb!  Ranger Lamb is back at Colonial after completing FLETC and his field training at Glen Canyon.  The day ended with a meeting with Ranger Mark Krebs who has been working with ProRangers for four summers starting with students at Cape Hatteras National Seashore!

We even got a chance to see a local high school band!


Drawing of the doll, wearing Georges Island Junior Ranger Badge
High school drum and fife band

With Ranger Lamb!

With the meetings out of the way, the second day of our visit was devoted to Taylor showing us around the park.  We toured the Yorktown area of the park and saw some of Taylor’s favorite spots and he showed us some of the park’s problem areas.  We visited Jamestown and met some of the rangers who Taylor has worked with this summer, earned a junior ranger patch, watched the park movie and toured the settlement.  But, most importantly, we saw the statue of Pocahontas!!

ProRanger Johnson swearing in Junior Ranger McGarvey

A young buck was cooling himself in the swampy water.

Pocahontas!!
We ended the day back at the Yorktown Visitor Center and earned a final badge for the day!  Then we were off for a stop at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on our way to Shenandoah NP.

Up next:  SHEN