Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Prince William Forest Park Weeks 4 and 5
During these past few weeks the park staff has been keeping us very busy. We are just coming off our two weeks with the maintenance team and boy do they work hard! Both Jess and I got to do things that we had never done before, such as operate heavy equipment (which by the way is very nerve racking), use the chainsaws, paint cabins, mow the grass, and mulch the walkways. We also learned about what it takes to initiate a project, acquire the necessary funding, and track all the progress. After getting taste of how the maintenance division operates I definitely have a new found respect for how hard they actually work.
This past weekend all of us ProRangers here at Prince William got to go on a detail to Fort McHenry for the 200th anniversary of the war of 1812, where we worked crowd control. This was a neat way for us to experience the way that rangers have to operate during a large scale event. We got a firsthand look at the usage of the incident command system and were able to interact with the public and maintain order. The first two days of the weekend I worked as one of the leads on the ropeline and now I know how hard it is to manage a team to people during strenuous situations. The final day I was stationed in the fort to work the VIP event. While the views form the top of the fort were spectacular, I knew that I was there for a reason and I during the air show and naval demonstrations I had to keep an especially close eye on the visitors making sure that they didn’t do anything that was unsafe due to their excitement or in an attempt to get a good picture. It was a stressful weekend with very little sleep but it was a rewarding experience and I am glad that i was fortunate enough to be able to go.
The last two weeks were full of new experiences, tremendous learning opportunities, and of course I had fun along the way. At the halfway point this internship is everything I expected it to be and more, and I am looking forward to spending time with the rest of the divisions and whatever opportunities await.
Till next week,
During our time with maintenance, we were given a wide variety of tasks to complete and new things to try. When we got on the field Subhi, Charles and I were separated to give as much help to the maintenance workers as we could during our two weeks. I was sent with two mason workers for two days to fix the chimneys in Cabin Camp 1. We were sent there because the chimneys on the cabins were deteriorating from when they were originally built in the 1930s. Our job was to chip away the old cement holding the roof up and replace it with mortar. My first day on the job, I was told to pay close attention to how the mortar is made. It’s a good thing I did, because the next day I was in charge of mixing the mortar. The chimney is still standing upright and it’s going strong. So I think it’s safe to assume I paid close attention to how mortar is made. After spending those two days making the park beautiful, I spent some time making the park fun. I was reunited with Charles and Subhi and we did some preparations for an event known as “Paws in the Park”. For that event, the park allows visitors to bring their dogs and let them off their leash in a fenced in area and we were the ones to assist in putting up (and taking down) the fence that the visitors used. Also during our time with maintenance, we had the opportunity to try out the heavy equipment with the assistance of the equipment operator here at PRWI. We were taken to the “boneyard” where we could ride and operate the payloader and backhoe. I have never driven anything that big before, but I am thankful that I had the opportunity to try something new for those two weeks with maintenance. During our time there, my summer of learning new things continued.
While working with maintenance, I helped out with the Roads and Trails division, cutting grass, trimming, putting up fences. Most of the week, I tagged along with Eric Lepinsky, who taught me how to use zero-turn law mowers and weed trimmers, and a wood chipper. Up to that point in my life I had not used any mower other than one that you have to push, so it was fun to learn how to operate one of these machines, and cut some grass in the park. At the beginning of the week, we drove out to Entrance Road near the Pine Grove Picnic Pavilion, and Eric cut up some small trees growing near the road, while I threw the limbs into the chipper. It was cool to use one of these, and see up close how powerful this machine really is. We also spent lots of time in various areas of the park grass and weed trimming. The zero-turn mowers go much faster than they look, or so it seemed when I was cutting a field of grass with one. While lots of fun to drive, safety is a major concern with them. You always have to be aware of large sticks, rocks, and slopes when operating one. That said, they can cut they can cut a large area in seemingly no time. This week, one of the equipment operators took us out to drive and learn how to use a backhoe. He took time to show us both the bucket in the back, for scooping and digging large trenches or pipelines, and the front-end loader. We spent the day driving and learning the controls and how to properly operate the vehicle, as well as move large piles of dirt and gravel. Growing up I was always fascinated with this type of heavy equipment, and I was happy to have this opportunity to actually operate it. Later in the week, I got more experience working with the chipper, helping to clear debris from a fallen tree on the side of a road. I also learned about how to use a wood splitter. All of these machines were awesome to operate, and overall it was a fun two weeks with the maintenance team!
Putting together a fence for an event "Paws in the Park"