What a great first week it has been, everyone at Valley Forge has been so welcoming. After meeting much of the staff on the first day, Ben and I spent the next two days in Operational Leadership class. The class, instructed by John Waterman and Kate Jensen, taught us about core values that are important to the National Park Service, including how to be an assertive, more aware employee.
The last two days of our week, we experienced firsthand the diversity of activities that occur on any given day at the park. We sat in court Friday morning and observed the civil side of law enforcement. After court, it was particularly interesting to chat with the District Attorney that represented Valley Forge on behalf of the law enforcement Rangers. Ben and I concluded Friday, our forth day, by familiarizing ourselves with Valley Forge NHP. We visited every tourist destination labeled on the trail map and drove on every road in the park. We even explored some places for NPS employees only not labeled on the map.
Our last day of the week, Saturday, was a perfect day for the outdoors. We met Kate Jensen, the park Ecologist, at her headquarters early in the morning. She briefed us on our task for the day; catching crayfish in Valley Creek. We learned about the potential danger that invasive species of crayfish can have on our rivers and streams here in Valley Forge. We met up with a group of volunteers, mostly middle school-aged children, and set off into the river to overturn some rocks. Kate and the children, who were seasoned crayfish hunters, pointed out the differences between the invasive crayfish and the native Pennsylvania crayfish. Invasive species were removed from the stream.
Later in the day, we met up with Amy Ruhe, the Bio Technician for the park, and she took us on a quest to capture fawns. It was incredibly important that we were gentle with the babies and wore gloves to protect our scent from transferring to the fawn. For data collection, we took weight, length and chest measurements of the fawn and tagged it for future recognition. This data will be used to monitor the population of deer in Valley Forge over the next years.
I hope all my fellow ProRangers are having as much fun as we are! I look forward to reading all about your summers in the parks.
-ProRanger Angela Forney