Monday, July 9, 2012
PRWI Update: Two weeks with Visitor Services
Hello bloggers and readers, it's been a while since Subhi and I have updated you all on what we have been up to here at Prince William Forest Park. Valid reason: our supervisor and other park employees have been keeping the two of us delightfully busy.
About two weeks ago, Subhi and I started our time with the visitor services staff and have been working in and around the visitor center. Going in, I guess we both thought we would be going on various programs that take place in the park. We did, of course, but what we learned was that there is so much that the staff has to do at the visitor center and while we were there, we had the opportunity to help and learn.
When we reported to duty for our first day, Subhi and I were given a schedule for what we would be doing the next two weeks. During the beginning of the first week, we spent time shadowing the staff to see what they do. What we would see includes giving educational and interpretative talks to the public, collecting park fees, answering visitor questions and other things that dealt directly with the public. When we felt comfortable, Subhi and I would actually start collecting fees and answering questions rather than watch the staff do it. During those two weeks with visitor services, I felt like we were part of the staff and have been for a long time. During the weekend we were sent out to the entrance station to collect fees and interact with all the visitors. At our park there is only one way in and one way out, so being out there at the entrance for most of the day was a great opportunity for us to see every visitor right away. Also, our being at the entrance of our park provided the visitors to meet with a ranger right away in case they had any issues or questions they knew we were around and that we could help.
Other than the fee collection and dealing with the visitors inside the visitor center, the staff does interpretative talks and runs programs for visitors. Our first day, Subhi and I went with a ranger to see her to do a beaver talk to Camp Mawavi, a group that comes to the park every year. She has been told that it is a tradition of the camp to have a beaver talk every summer and because it is usually the same group of campers, she has the challenge and opportunity to change her talk and method each time so that the program is fresh.
One night, I had the night shift at the visitor center and went to another program with another ranger. This program was one that was centered on the “Leave No Trace” ideology. We went out to Oakridge Campground and I assisted in getting prepared for the program. Going out and giving a program like this ranger did was a good opportunity for me to see what it is like to be out in the field and interacting with the visitors. I thought it was very important for us to talk with the visitors before and after the program to get on a good foot with them. If we are easy to talk to, they would have no problem with coming to us with a problem that we can help them with.
The next week Subhi and I were given a project to work on. The Chief of Interpretation gave us the choice to either do a craft for children or given an introduction to a program. Subhi chose to do a craft, while I chose the introduction. Before I went out for a night hike I gave a brief history of our park to the hikers that focused on the Pyrite Mine, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Office of Strategic Services.
That about covers it for our time with visitor services, thanks for reading –oh wait!
Besides Subhi and I spending time in and around the visitor center learning the tricks of the staff, all three of us ProRangers here at PRWI were given the task to plan and host the all employees meeting. That kind of meeting is one that takes place quarterly and according to the administration staff, it is tradition to have the ProRangers in charge of it during the summer. During that meeting, we introduced the superintendent and chiefs of all the teams so they could give each other updates on what is going on within the park and the employees. Subhi, Charles and I started off the meeting with an introduction of us and other new employees who were mainly youth. We also gave a brief summary of the ProRanger program and what it is that we do during the summer at our respective parks.
Having given us the task to run the meeting was a bit daunting at first, but the meeting was not as bad as I thought it would be. Before, I was a bit nervous to stand up in front of the entire PRWI staff and people whom I have never met. Right before it was time to start the meeting, I got over my fear and realized that I actually enjoy talking to people these are people who I have either already worked with or will work with in the near future. There was nothing for us to be nervous about, so the meeting ran smoothly. During the meeting, the three of us gave a presentation on the Incident Command System. Luckily for us, the ICS is something we all have training on and practiced during our detail at Fort McHenry. We took some forms from the IAP, edited them so they could relate to the all employees meeting and handed them out to the employees as a preview of what they are going to see and use during an event that we are having later this month. Actually having to explain ICS and having practiced it made me understand the system better, so I am glad that we had the opportunity to show what we learned.
So that really covers it for the past two weeks. We haven't disappeared, we've just been working hard here at Prince William Forest Park. Stay tuned for our next post that covers our epic return to the law enforcement team.
Thanks for reading!
-Subhi and Jess