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.