Friday, June 21, 2013
Harpers Ferry NHP Entry No. 2
Recently I have been able to work with the other divisions in HAFE for training and educational purposes. I spent three days at a seasonal orientation with most of the new interns who have come to park this summer. This training was centered around Interpretation and the skills a ranger would need for delivering information to park visitors. We discussed the proper way to interpret historical events of the park, while involving relevant and intangible meanings to the facts in order to connect the visitor to the park and promote stewardship. We went over universal concepts, interpretative opportunities, the three different parts of communication, the process model for a well thought out interpretative talk, informal visitor contacts, the "Visitors' Bill of Rights," and of course the many layers of history behind HAFE. This training was very helpful for me because, although I will not be giving my own interpretative talks, I will constantly have contacts with visitors throughout the duration of the day. Knowing the proper way to give educational information to them while trying to promote stewardship is a skill that any US Park Ranger should have. Each day of the orientation, we took a tour of our park, learning about the history of different areas available to visitors. During one of our lunch breaks, we made pizza the old-fashioned way in a brick oven with the Living History division.
Making pizza with fellow interns
In front of Jefferson Rock
The view from Jefferson Rock
John Brown's Fort
Another division I was able to work with was Administration. I worked with the Contracting Officer and learned the process behind buying things for the park through the General Services Administration, or GSA. She had to buy a few items for Visitor Services, so she took me through all of the different steps to obtain the items through GSA Advantage. We discussed the difference between the daily operations funding and project funding. I also worked with the Administration Officer. She explained her duties and responsibilities to me, as well as went over how to write a position description. Each employee of the NPS has a position description and knowing how to write your own is a good asset to have.
I also worked with workers from HPTC, the Historic Preservation Training Center. HPTC is a part of the NPS that has trained professionals who expert in maintenance and construction of historic sites in order to keep everything historically accurate. They are currently working on the investigation stage before stabilizing an alcove on HAFE property that lies adjacent to one of our parking lots. They had to dig underneath the stone walls to figure out if the foundation was live rock, which is bed rock, or if it was just built on top of the soil. Every time soil was dug out of the ground, it had to be carefully sifted through in order to find any possible artifacts. Every thing is important in telling the history of the land, so once something was found that was not rock or plant material, it was carefully put into a bag to be given to the park archaeologists.
While with Law Enforcement, I learned many valuable lessons that I will need in my future career as a US Park Ranger. During slow times, the LE rangers here helped me practice traffic stops. They role-played as the driver who has already been pulled over for a speeding violation. I practiced inspecting the surrounding area and the car on my approach, making initial contact with the driver, speaking to the driver about the violation, educating why it is a violation, obtaining the license and registration, filling out the citation (pretend citation), and finally re-approaching the driver with information on the actual citation and how to pay it. The LE rangers critiqued my performance and gave me advice on how to make it a safer contact for myself and the people in the car. I am very grateful they took the time to practice this with me, as I feel I will become a lot more comfortable with it by the end of summer. I also practiced calling in to Central over the radio about illegally parked vehicles. I practiced the alpha-codes for calling in tag numbers and license numbers. I also practiced asking for driver's license information (10-27), vehicle registration (10-28), and wants or warrants (10-29) on my own vehicle and license for practice since I am not commissioned and cannot ask for this information on an individual or car legally.
My supervisor introduced me to a very useful tool called the "Big Easy." This tool is used to open up cars that people have locked themselves out of. The tool set consists of a small wedge to pry open the door, an inflatable pouch with a hand pump to create spacing between the door and the body of the vehicle, and a long metal rod to slip through the space and hit the unlock button on the car door. He showed me the proper way to use it on one of our own government cars, and then he allowed me to practice using it. He instructed me to ask the driver to show their proper identification and registration to ensure that it is the correct owner and that the car has not been stolen. Also, one of the LE Rangers who is also the taser coordinator, trained me on the taser. I learned how it works, how it affects the body's nervous system, and how to properly fire one. The rangers here use the X26 model. I practiced discharging the X26 on a cardboard dummy at the ideal target zones on the suspect's body.
Big Easy Kit