Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The second week at Boston's Navy Yard has been filled with learning new tasks and responsibilities. We spent our days with various Park Rangers as well as some Supervisors within the Law Enforcement division.
This past week, a marijuana joint was confiscated at the security gate for the USS Constitution. We then conducted a field test on it. It was really cool to see how easy it is to test drugs on site in a matter of minutes. It is a very simple process of putting a sample of the substance into the package with three vials of chemicals. You break the first tube and then agitate the package for a minute. Once you break the second tube, if the chemicals change color, the substance tests positive for the drug. The last tube separates the chemicals into two different colors proving a second time that the substance contains the drug.
Jeff and I also spent some time with one of the Supervisors, Dan Baker, to talk with him and see what daily tasks he performs. We both got the chance to make some keys to doors as well as drive the electric car around the yard. Another task we performed throughout the day was standing by the one entrance gate talking with visitors. We were there to help answer any questions visitors may have as well as to give simple directions to other parts of the park. We feel that this is an important aspect of a Park Ranger's duties. It is important to be helpful in many different ways besides crime related incidents. We also feel that having a Park Ranger's presence throughout the park helps make people feel safe and allows them to feel free to ask any questions.
On several of our various patrols throughout the week we were able to see many parts of buildings that are not open to the public. For instance we got our own special tour of the Commandant's House, the Monument at Dorchester Heights, as well as access to various roof tops. It is interesting to see these buildings beyond what you would see as just the general public.
The view of the USS Constitution from the roof of an old unused warehouse building within the Navy Yard.
Jeff and I had the great opportunity of doing a ride along with a Minute Man Park Ranger, Kevin Kavanagh. Minute Man National Park is located in Concord, Massachusetts about half an hour from Boston. The majority of their patrol focus within the park is making traffic stops on the main highway that cuts through the park. We were able to witness Kavanagh pull over several cars, issuing several warnings as well as give out a few tickets. It was a great experience for us to see another style of patrol and focus within a park that differs greatly from the urban setting within the Navy Yard.
We look forward to what we will be experiencing next week!
ProRangers Erin Langeheine and Jeff Parente
|Close up of Prehistoric Knife|
|Me and the Prehistoric Knife|
|A place of peace|
Monday, May 30, 2011
Hello and greetings to everyone! The picture to the right above the text is just another breath taking vista that are up and down Skyline Drive.. Heather and i were lucky enough to see this as we were driving back to the HQ after a 12 to 8 shift.
Shenandoah National Park is such a great place to learn about what it takes to maintain such a beautiful place for future generations. The second week of work further demonstrated to me what a team effort it really takes to keep this park a fun and exciting place for the public as well as maintain all of the Resources in an sustainable manner so that future generations will be able to discover the beauty just as we have the opportunity now.
My week started on Tuesday with SAR (search and rescue) training which I wrote about in my last post. On Wednesday I drove up to the North District of the park to work with one of the LE rangers there named Jim. It was really great to have the opportunity to ride along with him and talk with him about his experiences both at Shenandoah and all the other parks he has worked at. It was a slow day for the most part but we did make a traffic stop and we also stopped to help some visitors who were changing a tire on their camper. Thursday John, Pete, and I, along with several other park employees met at Black Mountain for tactical search and rescue training. Basically, we were dropping a 450 lb weight (simulating a patient, a rescuer, and a litter) off the side of the mountain to test the equipment to see how it would hold up in a real rescue situation. John and I helped out wherever we could and at the end of the day we rappelled off the side of Black Mountain! Friday provided me with the opportunity to see a whole other side of the search and rescue operation. I worked with PSAR (preventative search and rescue). The people who work in this division are educators for the most part. They either hike trails or stand at trail heads and advise park visitors about the proper footwear for hiking, how much water to drink and how to be safe while enjoying nature. The day I was with them we hung signs along the Appalachian Trail warning visitors that part of the trail was closed because of recent bear activity. Saturday I worked with the fee department at the Old Rag Mt. trail. I helped greet visitors, answer questions and tell them where to park in order to allow as many visitors as possible to be able to hike and enjoy the park.
Every day at Shenandoah is packed full of new experiences and things to learn. One afternoon after a brief thunderstorm John and I were driving down Skyline Drive coming home from work and we had to stop at Jewell Hollow Overlook because the view was so amazing! It was one of those moments that literally took my breath away. On the same drive home we also saw a wild turkey, a handful of deer, and 3 bear cubs! I never know what will happen on any given day and I love it! I hope everyone has been enjoying their parks as much as I am!
Until next week,
Bright and early Wednesday morning, Ben and I arrived at the ranger station and were surprised to be greeted by two dogs. They had been found chasing after a runner in the park earlier that morning.
The two dogs were obviously friendly and reminded me that one never knows what to expect throughout the day in our National Parks. Luckily the dogs were wearing the proper tags and were quickly reunited with their owner.
Later that same day, Ranger Quinn Hackwelder was kind enough to drive us over to the radio room for Montgomery County. Here, all radio communication and 911 calls are intercepted and distributed to the proper district. This fusion of local and Federal communication cuts down response time and keeps our rangers and local police in close contact.
Friday was an important day at Valley Forge for many people and their families. Valley Forge hosted an event to award a new generation of American's their citizenship. The naturalization ceremony took place at 2pm, however many of these dedicated people arrived hours early just to make sure they did not miss this important event. At the ceremony, Deputy Superintendent Barbara Pollarine gave a brief welcome speech on behalf of the park and the Park Service. Her speech was followed by a video from President Obama, also welcoming the new wave of American's to the country. After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, hand over heart, the crowd cheered for their new citizenship. Each person was called up to the stage to receive their certificate of status, with the entire event lasting only about an hour. It truly was a touching moment to see all these people from countries around the world rejoicing at becoming an American citizen just like me.
Saturday was a quiet day since many visitors headed to the shore for Memorial Day Weekend. The park was full mostly with runners and dog walkers, many of which I had the pleasure of chatting with during my day walking the trails solo. After walking the heavily visited Joseph Plumb Martin trail in the morning, I headed to the north side of the park for some scenic views of the much quieter Schuylkill River trail (and to see if the toads were still there). All day long, many visitors greeted me and seemed sincerely happy to see a Park Ranger out interacting with the environment. It was an exciting day for both me and those I chatted with. Needless to say, the tiny toads must have escaped into the brush because only three days later, none were found.
Today, Memorial Day, our national parks are a great place to spend this day of remembrance. Here, at Valley Forge, we are having a staff picnic. I must be going so I can join the rest of my park in celebrating the sacrifices made on behalf of freedom.
Happy Memorial Day and until next time!
-ProRanger Angela Forney
Sunday, May 29, 2011
This week was Jim's second week and my first week at the park. Throughout the week we spent quite a bit of time messing around with GovTrip. It has been a frustrating application for all of us but hopefully we are through the worst of it! On Tuesday we spent most of our time touring around the park, getting to know the area. Tom (our supervisor) would quiz us on some of the roads within the park as we were driving around. In order to help the people within the park, you must have a good general idea.We are both still working on learning the few but difficult named roads throughout the parks as well as the different major landmarks. Jim is doing a lot better than I am at that. I also attended the one hour video that is done on the park - it is considered the better of the two movies. It provided me with quite a lot of background on the park.
We also got our car on Tuesday! We have our own retired patrol car, without the sirens or other police equipment, that we can drive around for government business. It is a lot of fun to drive through the park in our own car - it allows us to see how individuals interact with the Park Rangers first hand. We were also issued our radios which let us hear what is going on at Antietam and Monocacy NationalParks. We keep our radios with us at all time, especially when we are driving around in the car. On Wednesday we went to Seasonal Orientation – it was a quick overview of the park for the seasonal workers, whether they were returning or new. It was a good informational meeting about the park and we got to meet a few other people working there this summer. After the orientation we got to go hike one of the trails called the West Woods trail. Tom showed us a spot where there was a looting problem last year. It was just one example of the problems that are found throughout the park. We learned that it is often hard to figure out whothe individual looting is unless you catch them in the act.Friday we learned about the boundaries of the park. We were shown the congressional boundary and the current boundary of the park. Each property deed has certain limitations and it is the responsibility of the Rangers to know when these limitations are being violated. After going over some of the boundary stuff we went and walked one of the boundaries. On the walk we saw two tree stands and a deer feeder. These were all on private property so they were allowed. These areas are monitored though, because one of the stands has the shooter facing into the park. We also went to dispatch to learn about what happens at dispatch as well as tour the C&O Canal Headquarters. Unfortunately, there wasn't much activity at dispatch so we did not get to see what happened when a call came in. It was still good to see what dispatch looked like and to meet the people behind the radio.
Saturday we were able to help out with the Sharpsburg annual Memorial Day parade. We helped to set up, give people directions, and take down after the ceremony following the parade. This week was very interesting and we are definitely looking forward to another week!
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The people here at the park that I have had a chance to work or meet have all been great as well. From the time I arrived I have felt welcome and now only have been here a week and feel like I have been here a month.
I do have actual pictures of me working but am having some technical difficulties. I will post them ASAP.
Our second day was very educational. We learned how to use a GPS unit as well as input this into a GIS program on the computer. Paul walked us through each step. GIS and GPS are very useful for parks and other organizations. They contain a tremendous amount of information and store it into an easily read file/map.
Wednesday we received training in how to drive the electrically powered vehicles that the park recently purchased with the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. These vehicles are powered entirely by an electric battery and have a very different feel from a car. The only way you know that the vehicle is on when you put the key into the ignition is by looking for a little glowing green light, as the engine makes no sound. Its top speed is about 25 miles per hour, and the battery lasts for a total of 30 miles before it has to be recharged. As part of the training we each had the chance to drive the vehicle as well. After breaking for lunch, Colette gave a talk on introduction to cultural resources. She told us the basics of cultural resources and its importance to the park and in the National Park Service in general. We got a tour of the collections building where they keep all artifacts found in the park. Later that afternoon, we went on a scavenger hunt with maps and had to find clues hidden throughout the park. The scavenger hunt was not only informative, but also served to help us to better navigate our way through the park.
Today we did more work in cultural resources, but we spent most of the day indoors. We scanned slides onto the computer and logged them in an excel file, we entered books from the library into the computer archive, and we sorted through files and put them in their correct location. Surprisingly, this activity was a lot of fun. After lunch we learned about water quality and chemistry. We took macroinvertebrate samples and E. coli samples from stream sites. The entire group really enjoyed this and learned a lot about stream insects and how they can indicate stream health.
Our second week at the park was completely different from the first, but equally educational and eventful. We are both looking forward to week three; we will be with law enforcement again. Next week we have defensive driving and firefighting training as well. We are excited to see what the rest of the summer internship experience entails.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Its been a little over a week since I arrived at Colonial, and I must say that I am pretty pleased so far with all the staff that I have met, and the area that I live. My first few days was mainly an orientation to the area with my supervisor, Ken, who drove me around the park. The first couple of days would remind me of how Steve Clark informed us of what Rangers are required to do in the park when a problem occurs. Two juvenile fugitives broke out of their transport van and escaped onto park grounds, and were hiding in the battlefield areas.
This prompted the rangers of Colonial, and also other law enforcement officers from the surrounding area such as, York County Police, Sheriff's Dept, Newport News Park Rangers, and assistance by the K-9 Squad. I had the chance to witness a debriefing and plan of action taken by all these agencies together in the maintenance portion of the park. The communication by these agencies in the working together to achieve a common goal was a phenomenal thing for me to see, because one can often hear of how ineffective communication in times of crisis can occur and make matters worse. However, it also made me have the thought process of that, "If you break the law, we will hunt you down and find you", and surely later on that night the two individuals were back into custody. It was a very fun introduction into law enforcement in the park. This week I've been doing interpretation at the Visitor's Center, and have had the chance to attend various tours, as well as visit many sites in order to increase my park knowledge concerning the events that Colonial signifies. I look forward to a fun summer, and wish all of my prorangers the same!!
The picture to the left is a picture of the daily flag change at the star fort. There was a class there all the way from Montana. It was fun interacting with everyone and hearing one of the rangers tell the history about the flag and Fort McHenry to the children. The people I work with here are so nice. I have so much more to learn and experience here at Fort McHenry and I am super excited to see what the rest of the summer has to hold!
We also went around to all of the various buildings to check supplies within the first aid kits, AED packs, and first responder kits. We had a check list and needed to make sure all were present within the packs and that they each had sufficient supplies.
We made sure all of the necessary tools were present as well as a back up set of keys to all building sites and another first aid kit. We were also taught to check the back seat where prisoners are seated to make sure weapons or other objects were cleared out. All of these are key to check prior to leaving the station.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
|Ryan giving us a great pose in the Mortar Battery|