Sunday, February 7, 2016

Meet Welles.

Greetings! Allow me to introduce myself... my name is Shauni Kerkhoff. I am currently a senior at Temple University studying criminal justice and psychology. I am also a member of the women's soccer team here at Temple, but enough about me. For you to truly understand who I am and why I want to be a part of the ProRanger Program and the National Park Service, I need you to meet my hero and inspiration for everything that I do in life, Welles Crowther.

            He was a tremendous athlete and a giving person, volunteering his time at the local fire station as a volunteer firefighter throughout his high school career. Ever since he was a child, he carried with him a red bandana that his father gave to him. His father told him the bandana stood for courage and Welles took that to heart. He carried that bandana everywhere with him. He always kept the bandana in his back pocket and he even wore it under his lacrosse helmet when he eventually played collegiate lacrosse for Boston College. In fact, Welles had it in his back pocket on September 11, 2001. Welles Crowther was an equities trader at the World Trade Center. His office was on the 103rd floor of the South Tower. Just after the first passenger plane hit the North Tower, Welles received a call from his college roommate, Howells. Just after Howells hung up with Welles, the second passenger plane hit the South Tower. That was the last the Crowther’s heard from their son.

Months after that horrible day, survival stories began to emerge. Mrs. Crowther was sure to read all of them, in hopes of reading that her son was safe. She read something entirely different. She read multiple stories in which the survivors stated that they were saved by a man in a red bandana. She knew that this mysterious savior was her son. She immediately sent pictures of her son to the survivors that reported being saved by the mysterious man in a red bandana. All survivors confirmed that they were saved by Welles Crowther. There were many acts of heroism that took place in the World Trade Center on the atrocious day, many of which were preformed by Welles. It is reported that Welles not only directed others to safety, he carried others to safety. One of the most heroic acts that was carried out by Welles that day, was the fact that he got several people to safety and then went back up in attempts to save more, without even thinking of his personal safety. Unfortunately, as Welles was ascending back up the stairway of the South Tower, the South Tower collapsed. Welles’ body was found on March 19, 2002 among the debris of the South Tower.

Welles Crowther is an inspiration to us all. What inspires me the most about Welles Crowther is the size of his heart as well as his selflessness. He gave his life in the pursuit to save others. If his heroic acts do not display his altruism, then the job application to be a firefighter for the NYFD that was found in his apartment should do just that. He shared thoughts with his father shortly before he passed about not wanting to be an equities trader anymore. Instead, he wanted to pursue a career as a New York City firefighter. He shared with his father that he just wanted to help people and he was not able to do that in an office. Welles and his heroic actions that day have not only had a significant influence on the lives of those that he saved, he has also been a significant influence in my life since I came across his story in 2011. After watching a documentary about his life and his final heroic acts, I had goose bumps. I was immediately confronted by a vast array of emotions; I was saddened that the world had lost such an amazing human being, but I was also happy for Welles because knowing the person that he was, I do not think that he would have changed a single thing that day. He lived his life to help others and he passed doing just that. He inspires me to do something meaningful with my life. Because of Welles, I have decided to dedicate my life to helping others in some way. He inspires me to be selfless and to put others’ needs ahead of my own and in doing so, he inspires me to be courageous. Because of Welles Crowther, I strive to be altruistic and selfless each and every day. Much like Welles, I simply cannot live my life in an office. I truly believe that Welles regretted not pursuing his true love and passion of firefighting and his story has influenced me to make sure that I have no regrets in life. I want to live a life that makes me happy and helps others in the process. This is why I have decided to be a part of the ProRanger Program.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Crates, Shapes, but No Birthday Cakes - Final Event for 2015

Our group of ProRangers has been back together for the fall semester at Temple University. It is amazing to have a group of people by your side for the ebbs and flows of being back at school. Whether we are all in Philadelphia or scattered across the U.S., we always have a shoulder to lean on.
 During the semester, we meet at least once a month for some sort of activity. The most recent activity involved welcoming the new cohort. 
To the new cohort, Welcome to the ProRanger Program, Cohort 5! I hope that the new cohort will reach the amount of trust, friendship and group cohesion that I have felt with the my fellow ProRangers in Cohort 4. The best part about being in this program is the family bond that forms over time. For Cohort 4, it all started at leadership camp, where we lifted each other up, physically and mentally. Sometimes, I just have to let my squad carry me, when barriers emerge (see below - myself being carried on a chair).
I look forward to what the future has in store for us, like problem-solving activities and emerging from uncomfortable dynamics that involve not being able to stand inside your own crate (see below).

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned - I heard that walls will be climbed in January!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

“It’s better late than never.”

My name is Kelechi Akabogu and I’m the lucky ProRanger student who got to spend her summer in the magnificent Yosemite National Park. I am currently a Criminal Justice senior and would likely graduate by May 2016 from Temple University.
This summer (June-August 2015) was by far the best summer I have ever had in my entire life. It was my first internship in the ProRanger program and the experience in Yosemite was the best. I got to experience a totally different part of the United States, opened my horizons and embraced different kinds of challenges. This summer was the first ever time in my entire life away from my parents and family for more than a day in an unknown land. I got to spend 10 weeks without the supervision of a strict African parent and that showed me who I am and helped me learn a lot about myself.  This summer, I was able to recognize my innate ability to easily cope with new challenges and adapt to environments new to me.
This summer I worked with almost all the divisions in Yosemite and I saw how every single person works for the advancement of the Agency regardless of their job title. My summer however highlights wilderness restoration, interpretation and law enforcement divisions.
Working with the wilderness restoration crew, I got to learn maps, compasses and GPS, about archeology and the history of where I was. I camped in Mcgurk meadow, Mono meadow and Evelyn Lake and slowly but steadily I got comfortable with sleeping in the wilderness and outdoors in general. I knew what to take and not take, and I started to welcome the quiet environment where I found myself.
With the interpretation division, I was privileged enough to shadow the famous and brilliant Shelton Johnson in his Junior Ranger programs and also in the visitor’s center. Working with him made me appreciate and relate with the environment I found myself even more. He always had a way of making people relate to the magnificent environment, Yosemite.

With the Law enforcement I shadowed skillful and proficient Law Enforcement Rangers. I went on ride alongs, shadowed investigations and interrogations, sat through court cases and did traffic, Preventive Search And Rescue (PSAR), and Search And Rescue (SAR).

Ultimately, I want to use this medium to express my appreciation to the ProRanger Program for selecting me into this program, and also thank everyone who played a role and contributed in ensuring the success of my internship. I thank you all for your time, knowledge and support (participation) this summer. It was indeed a privilege to have spent my summer in your home, thank you for welcoming me with warm open hands.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why Does This Nuclear Reactor Have a National Park Sign?

The nation’s newest national historical park was formally created last week in Washington, D.C.  U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz signed a memorandum of agreement on November 10th, establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.  The agreement outlines how the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of Energy (DOE) “will work together to preserve, protect, and provide access to the historic resources associated with the Manhattan Project at locations in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and the Hanford Site in Washington state.”  More on this:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mysterious Building

You may be wondering what this building is. I'm going to rule out some possibilities. It isn't the Sheraton Suites. It isn't Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. It isn't the luxurious Marriot either. This is the building that President Abraham Lincoln stayed in the night before he delivered the Gettysburg Address. Cool right? During his speech, he reminded our country of the sacrifices that were made after the three day battle concluded. Many lives were lost during the Battle of Gettysburg. Unfortunately, I didn't get to go inside and take a nap on the bed he used during my break. However, stay tuned for that one.

Cyclorama At Gettysburg

During my internship at Gettysburg National Military Park, I learned that we had a variety of amenities and attractions to accommodate the 1.2 million visitors that tour the park each year. The first one that I would like to note as a very convenient attraction called FREE PARKING. I'm from Philadelphia and free parking where I'm from is the equivalent to a unicorn flying in the sky twice a day. It doesn't exist.

However, aside from free parking at Gettysburg we have this very cool attraction that depicts the third day during the Battle of Gettysburg. We call this feature the Cyclorama painting. This is a 360 degree canvas oil painting that surrounds the room it is placed in. It looks like the painting is 3D the way the illustrations pop out at you but, you can't touch it. I tried.

The room the Cyclorama is in features dimmed lights, narrative voices to depict what is in front of visitors, and sound/light effects (for the big bad cannons). During the late 1800s, the Cyclorama style of painting was very popular in the U.S. and Europe. However they lost popularity with the rising of motion pictures which we use today in modern society. None the less, it is still very cool to see these type of paintings.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Horsing Around

I was scrolling through photos of my summer internship at Manassas National Battlefield Park and came across several photos of the horses at the park that I had a chance to work with. At MANA, a Law Enforcement ranger runs the mounted patrol program. He works closely with the horses day in and day out. He trains, cares for, and maintains the horses and their stables. As well as training volunteers that go out on rides to get the horses some exercise. 
I personally have never worked with horses. I had never ridden one, fed one, or knew any sort a caring techniques for a horse. Well, that all changed this past summer. When I first arrived at the park a ranger met me at the law enforcement office, which happened to be attached to the horse stables. The ranger I was meeting was going to show me where I would be staying for the summer, but before we left the Law Enforcement office he gave me a quick tour, which led to the stables and began introducing me to each of the four horses MANA has. He handed me a snack to give the horse and I stared at him with a wide-eyed expression and he gave me my first lesson of how to feed a horse.
My Chief made it my duty to feed the horses each morning whenever I arrived at the Law Enforcement office. It was an interesting experience learning how to work around such a large animal of that size, and learning to control any signs of being nervous around them. I helped "muck stales"with my Chief, disposing the animal waste and placing down new straw for the horses. Taking care of these horses and keeping the program running takes a lot of work and dedication. Manassas is not just a place for lovers of history to visit and enjoy, but a place of recreation that many local residents go to run, walk, hike, and even go on rides with their horses. 
Frankie the Horse
Ginny the Horse

Can't forget Sadie the Cat, the mascot of Manassas!

To the new ProRanger Cohort, welcome and remember to take on every new experience you can get out of your summer internships and the classes at Temple. This program has a lot to offer, it is up to you what you make of it.