ProRangers and All-During Week 3 of our internship, we had the chance to get to know many of our peers during a four-day seasonal orientation. Tuesday, we kicked the day off with a lecture from Ranger Deirdre Gibson about the preservation of important natural resources in our park. Valley Forge, being a suburban park, is encroached on all sides by development. In this age, natural resource preservation is playing an increasingly important role in the historical authenticity of Valley Forge, for people, animals and plants alike. Later, we viewed the park from the visitor's perspective by taking a ride on the interactive trolley tour. Graham Dellinger, who also staffs the encampment store in the Visitor Center, led the tour. We finished our day with a park wide scavenger hunt, organized by Ranger Stephanie Loeb, which was designed to familiarize ourselves with the park and each other.
Wednesday Ben and I learned some valuable information about fire control. Ranger John Waterman educated us on how to use a fire extinguisher along with how to check an extinguisher to be sure it is still functional. After that, we went outside for some hands on practice with extinguishing a blaze. I am grateful for this information because I have never used a fire extinguisher before.
Later on Wednesday, Waterman instructed us of the proper way to safely use the types of golf carts offered at Valley Forge. I was surprised at how much the electric carts drove like regular cars. It definitely was a fun experience!On Thursday, we reported to the lower lot of the Visitor Center for a basic driving course. Using the types of vehicles we drive at Valley Forge, I maneuvered through cones in reverse, familiarized myself with the turning radius and practiced my parallel parking. I feel a lot more confident driving the big Tahoe after a few hours out on the course.
Friday morning we were with Ranger Bill Troppman, a seasoned Valley Forge Interpretive Ranger, for an introduction into "Why Valley Forge?" Troppman, who was filled with a wealth of knowledge, reviewed the pertinent history before, during and after the encampment at Valley Forge. To sum everything up, he listed three main reasons for Valley Forge's historical importance:
- Highest death rate of all winter encampments (though no battles were fought here)
- The establishment of the French Alliance which reinvigorated the young army
- Prussian officer von Steuben's reorganization of the new Continental Army produced a better trained and more cohesive force
Saturday was National Trails Day, so Ben and I spent our time down at the Betzwood Picnic area supporting the event tent. This was a great opportunity to chat with Ranger Ernestine White, volunteer coordinator, about her important role in Valley Forge NHP. Prior to White's employment, volunteers in Valley Forge Park were virtually nonexistent. Today, as you can see in the photos, our VIP (Volunteers In Parks) program is bustling with interest. Volunteers play such an important role in supporting our park and thanks to Ernestine's dedication, we have growing interest.
Partners of the park, a local police department and various vendors joined our rangers in promoting the many scenic trails here in Valley Forge for this special occasion. While Ben was leading a group of volunteers in trail cleanup, a local newspaper stopped by and interviewed me about the event; and more specifically about the ProRanger program.
If you are interesting in reading the story on the paper’s website, please find the link here.
We at Valley Forge hope all is well with the other ProRangers and their partner parks, until next time!
ProRangers Ben and Angela