Monday, December 5, 2011

A Day of Rappelling

Members of all three cohorts along with some friends and family came out for a great day of rappelling at the Valley Green Inn, part of Fairmount Park. We spent the day learning how to tie seats and various knots, rappelling down the twenty-five foot “mini” rock face, learned how to put up shelter halves, and of course enjoyed some good eats with MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat).

Our rappel master, Chris Lattanze, along with some of his fellow experts showed us the proper ways to tie our seats making sure we were safe for our rappel. Many were first time rappellers, some of which were faced with overcoming their fear of heights. We are happy to say though that everyone made it through successfully with no injuries!

Many of us also had our first experience piecing together shelter halves. These two-man shelters are made from water repellent cotton sateen fabric and held up by two poles being secured with a guy rope and stakes. Of course us ProRangers needed to make a competition out of it, with the fastest assembly time being one minute and fifty-five seconds! This practice will pay off once we’re at Leadership Camp when we spend a night sleeping in them!

Everyone had a great time and enjoyed meeting the newest members of Cohort 3! We all look forward to our next event and coming closer as an overall group. Great job to all who came!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Volunteer Update

Volunteering at Valley Forge has been limited to just a few hours a week now. I need to maintain my focus especially because the end of the semester is coming closer. A few days ago Valley Forge hosted a Park Watch Patrol meeting that allowed all members to finally come together and interact with each other. Although we are modest in members now, we hope to soon expand and recruit more volunteers. During the meeting we discussed the program design, and we also discussed what our responsibilities are as Park Watch Volunteers.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cohort 3 Selected!!!

On November 15, the 22 new members of cohort 3 met at the U.S. Custom House for their initial processing. The Regional Director and Deputy Directors visited with them to share their vision of the ProRanger program and their enthusiasm for the exciting season ahead.

The Regional Chief Ranger discussed the responsibilities and challenges that they will face as they progress through the program, and the great support available to see them through.

Dr. Tony Luango of Temple University discussed the SLETP and offered advice on preparing for the physical and mental demands of this rigorous program.

With the addition of the Southeast and Midwest regions to the program, students have many more destinations available for their summer internships.

Join me in welcoming them during our December 3rd event at the Valley Green Inn.

Monday, October 10, 2011

On Saturday, October 8th, six of the ProRangers and Don Sweet had the awesome opportunity to visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty National Monument in New York. We woke up bright and early to begin the trek toward New York City. Our mission for the day was to educate park visitors about fire prevention and safety. When we first arrived, we were given a brief overview of Ellis Island's history along with a quick tour of the grounds and museum. (Fire prevention is a topic close to the hearts of the Ellis Island rangers. Soon after the first building was completed, the entire structure burned down! Thankfully no one died in that fire because they had recently practiced several fire drills. They re-built using bricks and cement instead of wood like the old building.) Soon after we finished setting up for the day, people started arriving by boatloads! The ProRangers helped greet visitors, direct people toward the fire safety table, educate kids about how to get out of a burning building the fastest and safest way, and hand out coloring books, fire safety stuffed animals, and stickers to the parks younger visitors.

Around lunch time we all boarded the New Jersey boat and headed over to the Statue of Liberty. One of the rangers there gave us a "VIP" tour around the Island and up into the statue itself. This was the first time any of us had ever been to the Statue of Liberty, so it was an extra special trip for us all! After a quick lunch, we got on the ferry and went back to the Ellis Island museum.

During the last part of our work day, all the ProRangers had the opportunity to go look at the wall of immigrant names. There are several hundred thousand names on the wall right now. They are there because they have donated money to the museum/park. However, there are many more names of families on record that came through the island and into America.

It was really great to spend time at a place steeped in so much history. I was excited to find the names of several other Hyde's on the wall at the museum. It made me feel just that much more connected to the island where I was working. One of the coolest things about the park, in my opinion, was getting to meet so many people of different nationalities. I don't think I have ever heard that many different languages being spoken in one place before! It was really a great sample of the "Melting Pot" that is America.

The event was a great success! The weather was perfect and we educated many people about fires and how to prevent them. We also met a lot of new people and expanded our park service family. Now, we are looking forward to the next time we get to go back for a visit - October 28th! Thank you to everyone who made this opportunity possible.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Volunteer Update

This past Saturday and friend of mine, Preston Mandes, who also graduated with me from the Temple SLETP accompanied me on a Park Watch Patrol. He and I have both been volunteering at Valley Forge for about three weeks now and finally got together this past weekend to go on a partnered patrol. Unfortunately for me and fortunately for him, Preston will be partaking in a Wilderness EMT class that is scheduled to last for about a four weeks. He is doing everything he can to be recognized, from volunteering his time at the park and by putting himself through an EMT course. I am without a doubt certain that he will stand out and be placed soon. Good luck!

Today, the park hosted an annual event that commemorated Von Steuben. He played a crucial role at Valley Forge, to get more info. I suggest searching his name on a reputable site. I was able to help out with traffic control and was pleased to be able to use road flares for the first time. Everyday at the park is a new learning experience!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Empire Strikes Back

Empire Strikes Back… And of course I’m not talking about Star Wars. On Sunday October 2, 2011, Valley Forge hosted an event that recognized a British raid that took place at the site in 1777. The event was organized and executed by a senior at Wissahickon High School as part of a senior graduation project. All reenactors showed great dedication and fidelity as they played out their roles.

As for my volunteering, I’ve been hiking the many trails at Valley Forge. It has been about a week since I began and I still feel like I have only scratched the surface. The Chief was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to take me on a very long bike ride that seemed to have covered every square inch of the park. Needless to say, I was sore the following day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Post Academy

Well I’ve got to say, it sure does feel good being done with the academy. I finally get to catch up on some sleep! It’s so exciting to see that all our hard work is paying off. A couple of my fellow cohorts are in the process of getting hired while a few of us, including myself, are in the process of finishing up our education.

Starting last week I have been able to volunteer some of my time to Valley Forge National Historical Park, a place where I soon hope to be commissioned. I thought to myself that it would be beneficial to me if I started to get a grasp of a park that I know so little about. To kick off my volunteering, I was able to partake in the National Public Lands Day event held at Valley Forge. Members of the community volunteered their Saturday morning to help clean and revitalize the park in an effort to preserve its natural beauty. The event was a big success and was celebrated with a much needed barbecue.

Monday, September 26, 2011

After Action Meeting 2011

The ProRangers met with officials from Temple university and NPS leadership from the Northeast & National Capitol regions to not only review the accomplishments of the past year, but to also hear where the program is heading in the future.
The Chief Ranger of the Northeast region, Stephen Clark, reviewed the successes of the program and shared his personal connection with several of the students that grew up in the area, revealing a personal photo from his early camping experiences in urban Philadelphia.
Northeast Regional Director Dennis Reidenbach, champion of the Director's Call-to-Action item "Home-Grown", shared how the ProRanger programs will lead to similar programs across the park service, servicing numerous types of positions, expanding from law enforcement.
Associate Director for the National Capitol region, Phillip Sellek, a strong advocate for the program, reflected on the successes enjoyed by the NCR and renewed his commitment to developing the ProRangers into sought after Rangers.
Dr. Peter Jones, one of the programs architects from Temple university, described how ProRanger has evolved in a positive way, and looks forward to maintaining Temple's forward-looking approach while striving for excellence.
Dr. McGarvey, Vice-Provost for University College, home of the ProRanger Certificate program that she has passionately brought to reality, shared her passion for making the program even more successful as we drive forward.

After a short video, all that gathered enjoyed a "meet and greet" where the attendees asked questions and were afforded an opportunity to meet with Temple and NPS leadership.

Thanks to all the caring leaders that made the time to attend this event. the impact that your presence made will be felt by these young people for years to come.