Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sandy Hook Week One!

Hello everyone,

We are having fun and enjoying our stay at Gateway National Recreational Area, Sandy Hook Unit. For our first week, we worked with the interpretation division. Working with the interpretation division was a great start for us because it helped us learn the history of Sandy Hook, which was once considered a key coastal defense system for New York Harbor. On day one we shadowed interpreter rangers as they gave tours of the Sandy Hook Light House, the oldest operating lighthouse in the United States that has helped guide ships into New York Harbor since 1764. With 95 steps and a 9 step latter it can be a little bit of a work out to climb to the top, but the view is completely worth it. On a clear day you can see the Verrazano Bridge, Manhattan, Staten Island, the Empire State Building, Freedom Tower, and the Coney Island Parachute Drop, not to mention an amazing view of Fort Hancock. In addition, we learned about the Fresnel lens and how it was placed in 1857 when the iron lens house was added to the Tower. The lens still remains today and can be seen 19 miles away!




On the second day we worked with Clean Ocean Action, a program whose mission is to “improve the degraded water quality of the marine waters off the New Jersey/New York Coast.” We helped Clean Ocean Action prepare for Student Summit (an educational program that gives young students the opportunity to hands-on marine environmental education). The school kids were separated to many different groups and stationed at different activities. The group we helped supervised was learning how to test water quality and learned about Sandy Hook’s Holly Forrest. It was a rainy and cold day, but everybody made the best out of it and most of all the kids had a great time. In the afternoon we took a ride with the Park Historian where we were given an in depth tour of the park and learned a lot.

On our third day, we helped worked the light house and Battery Potter. There was a large group of kids on a field trip and we helped transition the groups in and out of the light house and at Battery Potter. In the afternoon, we helped prepare Battery Gunnison for the Junior Ranger Program. Battery Gunnison was part of Fort Hancock's arsenal of defenses on Sandy Hook and contained 6-inch caliber rapid-fire guns. The kids participating in the Junior Ranger Program learned how to load one of the remaining guns in 15 seconds. 



On our fourth day, we worked the visiting center and helped answered visitors questions, answered phone calls, and helped cleaned out the storage room. We met many vacationers from all over including England, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland just to name a few. One of the most rewarding parts was helping people in the visitor center and suggesting different things like visiting the light house and then seeing them there in the afternoon.

On our last day with the interpretation division, we participated in a beach cleanup with a group of high school students. We walked up and down the beach and picked trash. As we picked up the trash we separated the plastics from regular garbage. In the afternoon, we helped tear down and replace the cork bulletin boards that post fliers and information posters to inform visitors. 

In all, we had a great first week. Everybody we worked with was very nice and welcoming. We are looking forward to the rest of the summer because we are positive that Sandy hook has many wonderful opportunities and adventures in store for us.

-Vinny Lemba and Christina Cintron

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