Monday, June 13, 2011

SNP --> Week 4!

Week 4 has come to a close. I have many exciting adventures to relate to you all once again! This week John and I had the opportunity to learn all about the inner workings of the Interpretation and Education Division at Shenandoah National Park.

I spent the day Tuesday working in the Comm. (communications) Center with dispatch. This was really exciting because I got to be "740" for the day! It may not mean that much to anyone else but 740 is the main radio number that LE Rangers use when they come on duty at the beginning of the day and when they call off duty at the end of the day. On top of that, every time there is a Search and Rescue event or other incident, the Comm. Center acts as the "home base" for ongoing operations. The small size of the building is deceiving... so much goes on inside that I never knew about before I spent time with the employees that work there! We received training on how to use the phones, the radio, and some aspects of the computer system used to look up people's names and criminal backgrounds during traffic stops.

Wednesday, John and I spent the day with Tim Taglauer. He is the chief of interpretation and education at Shenandoah. We first got to meet the two people (Claire and Neal) who work on and create multimedia projects for the park. This includes formatting and adding new things to the park's website, making hundreds of signs for the 75th Anniversary re-dedication ceremony, and making posters for various places around the park, among other things. From there we drove through the north district stopping at Dickey Ridge Visitors Center and talking more about interpretation and how things all fit together within the division. This was kind of our briefing for the rest of the week and the work we would be doing.

(John and I accompanied Sue on her nature hike/Ranger Talk on Hawksbill Mt.)

Thursday, John and I drove up to Byrd Visitors Center at Big Meadows. We met with Lorrie who is supervising us while we do our research, etc. for our ranger talk. That day we had the opportunity to stand behind the front desk and talk with visitors. We helped them decide which trails to hike and what other cool things to do during their stay at Shenandoah. Meanwhile, John and I began to build our visitor observation logs. One of the steps to writing a good ranger talk is to know your audience. The observation log will help aid us greatly in this pursuit. We were also lucky enough to meet Marcus while we were at the VC. He let us come along and watch while he fed the birds of prey and cleaned their cages! There are two owls named Bo and Screech and one red tailed hawk, aptly named Red. They all eat mice with powdered vitamins stuffed inside.

(This is a screech owl that I got to see up close during the birds of prey talk.)

Friday, John and I stayed at headquarters. We went to training on the foundations of interpretation. We had a good time along with 3 other "students" learning about each other and about how to create a good presentation for the public. You take a tangible resource, illuminate the intangible meaning behind it and then, by using universal concepts and values, you present the tangible resource to the public through an emotional connection. You must also be sure to know your resource and your audience in order to be successful.

Saturday began as a fairly uneventful day. John and I spent our morning at Byrd VC once again. We attended the birds of prey talk at the amphitheatre and did some research until lunch. Right around noon, though, a call came in for a SAR on Old Rag (where else?)... I've been noticing a pattern. There have already been 3 there since we have arrived at the park! John and I gathered our stuff and headed down the fire road with the PSAR guys and another ranger named Garret. Just about the time we made it to the summit to help with the carry-out a thunderstorm blew in. Needless to say this made for quite the interesting SAR! The whole way down the mountain it poured rain and thundered every now and then. We kept focused though and through a lot of teamwork and focus we all made it down safely to the bottom of the mountain. I surprised myself because I wasn't expecting to have as much fun as I did! The rain made the SAR more of an adventure and it was very rewarding to help a person in need.

(Me on the left helping carry the litter down Old Rag during the SAR)

Starting tomorrow John and I will be working with Administration. Who knows what we'll experience during week 5??? I know for me there is almost never a dull moment here and I hope everyone else is continuing to enjoy their own experiences as much as I am!

Until next time,

Heather Hyde

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