Sunday, December 20, 2015

Crates, Shapes, but No Birthday Cakes - Final Event for 2015

Our group of ProRangers has been back together for the fall semester at Temple University. It is amazing to have a group of people by your side for the ebbs and flows of being back at school. Whether we are all in Philadelphia or scattered across the U.S., we always have a shoulder to lean on.
 During the semester, we meet at least once a month for some sort of activity. The most recent activity involved welcoming the new cohort. 
To the new cohort, Welcome to the ProRanger Program, Cohort 5! I hope that the new cohort will reach the amount of trust, friendship and group cohesion that I have felt with the my fellow ProRangers in Cohort 4. The best part about being in this program is the family bond that forms over time. For Cohort 4, it all started at leadership camp, where we lifted each other up, physically and mentally. Sometimes, I just have to let my squad carry me, when barriers emerge (see below - myself being carried on a chair).
I look forward to what the future has in store for us, like problem-solving activities and emerging from uncomfortable dynamics that involve not being able to stand inside your own crate (see below).

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned - I heard that walls will be climbed in January!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

“It’s better late than never.”

My name is Kelechi Akabogu and I’m the lucky ProRanger student who got to spend her summer in the magnificent Yosemite National Park. I am currently a Criminal Justice senior and would likely graduate by May 2016 from Temple University.
This summer (June-August 2015) was by far the best summer I have ever had in my entire life. It was my first internship in the ProRanger program and the experience in Yosemite was the best. I got to experience a totally different part of the United States, opened my horizons and embraced different kinds of challenges. This summer was the first ever time in my entire life away from my parents and family for more than a day in an unknown land. I got to spend 10 weeks without the supervision of a strict African parent and that showed me who I am and helped me learn a lot about myself.  This summer, I was able to recognize my innate ability to easily cope with new challenges and adapt to environments new to me.
This summer I worked with almost all the divisions in Yosemite and I saw how every single person works for the advancement of the Agency regardless of their job title. My summer however highlights wilderness restoration, interpretation and law enforcement divisions.
Working with the wilderness restoration crew, I got to learn maps, compasses and GPS, about archeology and the history of where I was. I camped in Mcgurk meadow, Mono meadow and Evelyn Lake and slowly but steadily I got comfortable with sleeping in the wilderness and outdoors in general. I knew what to take and not take, and I started to welcome the quiet environment where I found myself.
With the interpretation division, I was privileged enough to shadow the famous and brilliant Shelton Johnson in his Junior Ranger programs and also in the visitor’s center. Working with him made me appreciate and relate with the environment I found myself even more. He always had a way of making people relate to the magnificent environment, Yosemite.

With the Law enforcement I shadowed skillful and proficient Law Enforcement Rangers. I went on ride alongs, shadowed investigations and interrogations, sat through court cases and did traffic, Preventive Search And Rescue (PSAR), and Search And Rescue (SAR).

Ultimately, I want to use this medium to express my appreciation to the ProRanger Program for selecting me into this program, and also thank everyone who played a role and contributed in ensuring the success of my internship. I thank you all for your time, knowledge and support (participation) this summer. It was indeed a privilege to have spent my summer in your home, thank you for welcoming me with warm open hands.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why Does This Nuclear Reactor Have a National Park Sign?

The nation’s newest national historical park was formally created last week in Washington, D.C.  U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz signed a memorandum of agreement on November 10th, establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.  The agreement outlines how the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of Energy (DOE) “will work together to preserve, protect, and provide access to the historic resources associated with the Manhattan Project at locations in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and the Hanford Site in Washington state.”  More on this:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mysterious Building

You may be wondering what this building is. I'm going to rule out some possibilities. It isn't the Sheraton Suites. It isn't Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. It isn't the luxurious Marriot either. This is the building that President Abraham Lincoln stayed in the night before he delivered the Gettysburg Address. Cool right? During his speech, he reminded our country of the sacrifices that were made after the three day battle concluded. Many lives were lost during the Battle of Gettysburg. Unfortunately, I didn't get to go inside and take a nap on the bed he used during my break. However, stay tuned for that one.

Cyclorama At Gettysburg

During my internship at Gettysburg National Military Park, I learned that we had a variety of amenities and attractions to accommodate the 1.2 million visitors that tour the park each year. The first one that I would like to note as a very convenient attraction called FREE PARKING. I'm from Philadelphia and free parking where I'm from is the equivalent to a unicorn flying in the sky twice a day. It doesn't exist.

However, aside from free parking at Gettysburg we have this very cool attraction that depicts the third day during the Battle of Gettysburg. We call this feature the Cyclorama painting. This is a 360 degree canvas oil painting that surrounds the room it is placed in. It looks like the painting is 3D the way the illustrations pop out at you but, you can't touch it. I tried.

The room the Cyclorama is in features dimmed lights, narrative voices to depict what is in front of visitors, and sound/light effects (for the big bad cannons). During the late 1800s, the Cyclorama style of painting was very popular in the U.S. and Europe. However they lost popularity with the rising of motion pictures which we use today in modern society. None the less, it is still very cool to see these type of paintings.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Horsing Around

I was scrolling through photos of my summer internship at Manassas National Battlefield Park and came across several photos of the horses at the park that I had a chance to work with. At MANA, a Law Enforcement ranger runs the mounted patrol program. He works closely with the horses day in and day out. He trains, cares for, and maintains the horses and their stables. As well as training volunteers that go out on rides to get the horses some exercise. 
I personally have never worked with horses. I had never ridden one, fed one, or knew any sort a caring techniques for a horse. Well, that all changed this past summer. When I first arrived at the park a ranger met me at the law enforcement office, which happened to be attached to the horse stables. The ranger I was meeting was going to show me where I would be staying for the summer, but before we left the Law Enforcement office he gave me a quick tour, which led to the stables and began introducing me to each of the four horses MANA has. He handed me a snack to give the horse and I stared at him with a wide-eyed expression and he gave me my first lesson of how to feed a horse.
My Chief made it my duty to feed the horses each morning whenever I arrived at the Law Enforcement office. It was an interesting experience learning how to work around such a large animal of that size, and learning to control any signs of being nervous around them. I helped "muck stales"with my Chief, disposing the animal waste and placing down new straw for the horses. Taking care of these horses and keeping the program running takes a lot of work and dedication. Manassas is not just a place for lovers of history to visit and enjoy, but a place of recreation that many local residents go to run, walk, hike, and even go on rides with their horses. 
Frankie the Horse
Ginny the Horse

Can't forget Sadie the Cat, the mascot of Manassas!

To the new ProRanger Cohort, welcome and remember to take on every new experience you can get out of your summer internships and the classes at Temple. This program has a lot to offer, it is up to you what you make of it.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Watching the Seasons Change

I was just thinking to myself as I took notice of the leaves changing their colors how beautiful Shenandoah National Park would be this time of the year. Whether you're taking a drive along the Skyline or going for a hike in the back country to spot rattlesnakes and waterfalls it's a beautiful sight. I was stationed at Manassas National Battlefield Park, but I was less than an hour away from the North entrance of Shenandoah through the small town of Front Royal. Midway through my summer experience my Chief thought it would be great if I could take the Wildland Fire course, S-130/190 at Shenandoah NP where it would be taught. Luckily with a couple phone calls and a few forms to fill out I would be staying just outside the park for the 4-day training to receive my Red card along with a seasonal maintenance worker at MANA.
We spent three days in a classroom going over basics and essential tools used on a fire, and the last day was spent in the field getting to use the equipment and understanding how to deploy your shelter in a matter of seconds. Not only did the training teach me about wild land firefighting, but in order to go on this training I had the opportunity to work closely with Manassas's administration staff. I was fortunate enough for them to support me going on the training and help teach me about how to send someone out on a training or even on a fire, as well how one would get paid or reimbursed during such an event.
Overall I had a great time at Shenandoah, getting the chance to meet other people working in the park and seeing Shenandoah in a different way rather than from a visitor perspective. A way in such that can help protect and prevent the spread of fire throughout the park if such an unfortunate incident ever took place.
Here we are all lined up, each ready to head out into the woods to do
some practical training with different tools.

Myself, in (borrowed) Personal Protective Equipment.
Seasonal Maintenance employee at MANA, Christian, carrying the leaf blower.
Digging a line.
Not only is the leaf blower used to help control and reduce fire in the field,
but also used to simulate the rough wind speeds of fire rolling over a deployed shelter. 
Saying goodbye to Shenandoah NP.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

From Casting Iron and Forging Progress to Preserving Stories and Enlightening Visitors: Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Nestled in the heart of Berks County, PA, and surround by bucolic French Creek State Park, lies Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site (HOFU), a place that will surprise, enlighten and offer a rare glimpse into Southeastern Pennsylvania’s iron-making past and its influence on America’s industrial revolution.  Six Temple University ProRanger students joined Landscape Architecture and Design Associate Professor Robert Kuper’s class of senior design studio students to explore this unique historical site and draw inspiration from the beauty of its natural resources and the culture of its former inhabitants.  

Division Chief Frances Delmar
Hopewell Furnace Site Manager and Interpretation Division Chief Frances Delmar and Park Ranger Norman Feil, II provided the interpretative narration and walk-through necessary to accurately envision Hopewell Furnace at the height of its operations and iron-making production from the late 18th to the late 19th centuries.  But, as Delmar was sure to point out, “Hopewell is everyone’s place”; that is, unlike other very well-known national historic sites, Hopewell Furnace is the story of everyday people and everyday life.  

And, Delmar is right – while Hopewell figures prominently as the most intact example of an iron-making settlement, the real story is with its inhabitants and their day-to-day lives converting plentiful, local raw materials into finished products ranging from “Hopewell stoves” to hollow-ware to mortars and cannons used at the final battle at Yorktown.  In later years, Hopewell’s furnace produced “pig iron” that was used throughout the U.S. and the world.  

In addition to being technologically ahead of its time, Hopewell Furnace was a leader in gender and social equality.  The practice of equal pay for equal work was the norm – women earned the same as men for their work – and the workplace (including housing) was racially integrated.  

Park Ranger Norman Feil
After the last iron furnace was extinguished in the late 1880’s, the site fell into disuse and disrepair until the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the national stimulus program under the leadership of President Teddy Roosevelt, put the young and unemployed to work on large scale conservation projects on federal and state lands, including Hopewell Furnace.  The CCC’s preservation efforts in the 1930’s saved Hopewell Furnace from ruins, but in a twist of irony, were a social step backward for Hopewell, as the CCC was limited to young men only, and racial minorities were required to work and live separately from whites.  

Today, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site (just over an hour’s drive from Independence National Historical Park and less than 45 minutes from Valley Forge National Historical Park) is managed by the National Park Service and draws visitors looking to understand the cultural, natural and human resources behind the American industrial revolution, or to find respite and a quiet place to walk, run or recreate, or to simply take in the fall foliage in glorious shades of red, yellow and orange.  

Delmar also suggests families visit this time of year to gather and enjoy the kind of apples “you won’t find in a supermarket.”  For the bargain price of a dollar/pound (buckets provided), families can stock up on enough apples to last them through the fall.  Hopewell Furnace has something to offer to every visitor, but perhaps Neil put it best when he said the most valued finished product Hopewell “casts” today is enlightenment.

Hopewell Furnace Site Visit

Hopewell Furnace Site Visit

Yesterday, ProRangers Hannah Sender, John Hesdon, Julia Klejmont, Brittany Kriner, Kelechi Akabogu and I went on a site visit to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. Our Land Management and Federal Law Enforcement class, taught by Tony Luongo, teamed up with Temple Ambler landscape architecture students who are preparing an exhibit for the Philadelphia Flower Show. We were given an exceptional tour of the historic site from the very knowledgeable Ranger Normal Feil II. We learned about Hopewell's history and involvement in the iron production during the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. Many historic sites are deemed important because of a specific battle or event that took place. Hopewell Furnace is different because it represents American culture as a whole. It is not unique and there were many other villages that resembled Hopewell Furnace, but this specific site is the best preserved iron plantation of its time. Hopewell's iron production helped the United States grow into an industrialized society. We all gained an appreciation for lesser known historic sites and the beautiful scenery. We all plan to come back soon to pick a pound of apples for $1!

Hunting Season is Here

Hunting Season is Here

I spent my summer at Assateague Island National Seashore. Unlike many parks, Assateague Island has recreational hunting for park visitors. I was able to learn more about the hunting program and hunting procedures during my summer internship. For my conservation project, I helped Ranger Ian Morton prepare for the hunt season, which is now here. For my project, I researched the Maryland state hunting regulations and applied them to the new hunt plan for Assateague. I then hiked out to all the hunting areas and blinds and took photographs, GPS coordinates, and performed trail maintenance along the way. This was an amazing way to get to know all areas of the island and find some of the hidden beauties within the marsh. I also learned a lot about the hunting culture, firearm safety and hunting regulations from Chief Ranger Walt West. While I was working on my hunting project a sika deer, a non-native elk species, unfortunately got hit by a car. Chief West used this event to teach me how to age a sika deer and examine a hunt kill just like a Ranger would have to do during the hunt season. I am not a hunter so it was great opportunity to expand my knowledge and get familiar with a new subject. I gained a new appreciation for hunting and for the marsh, thank you Assateague!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

ProRanger Workout

ProRanger Workout

Tonight after night class ProRangers Nick Fitzke, Julia Klejmont, John Hesdon, Brittany Kriner, Tim Greene, Hannah Sender and I worked on our speed and endurance. Some of us are natural sprinters and some of us are natural distance runners. Working together and finding a balance between the two is making us all better runners. I'm looking forward to developing my speed and becoming a stronger cohort.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Papal Detail

Where do I begin about this past weekend event for the Papal Visit? The extensive preparation for such a historical event for Philadelphia? The TSA security checks? The amount of different government agencies that I discovered existed this past weekend? I do not know where to begin because of the overwhelming anticipation of such an event of this importance. Fellow ProRangers and I rallied up in front of the Liacourus Center at promptly 0445 hours. We greeted each other with sleepy eyes and eagerness to see what the day entailed for us. We entered the "zone" and ran through the TSA security check point heading for our 0600 hour briefing for the day and to find out more of what we would be doing. After the briefing, several of us were assigned to a Ranger and from there we followed orders of what to do.
Working next to U.S. Park Police from the Statue of Liberty
I had the opportunity to be stationed with my mentor Jordan Keiffer, who I got to know a bit better and helped guide the ProRangers and I through this confusing new experience of working a detail. We moved around to several different posts that needed to be covered and then later on in the day most of us were placed in Washington Square. From there we stood on post behind the Pope's personal tent making sure only Law Enforcement officers passed by us. Several others spent time roving the park of Washington Square to monitor for any suspicious activity. It may have been a lot of standing in one spot, but that's what building character is for. For myself, and I'm sure I can speak for the other ProRangers as well that we are all grateful to have been apart of such a truly life changing experience. To have had the practice of working a detail of this extent. To learn about CTR's and watch the process of an incident command system being run before our own eyes was absolutely amazing.
A view of the Pope's personal tent.

On our way to work at 0530 hours.

Sneak peek of the Pope!
Nothing like a classic family photo.
ProRanger Tim Greene and I protecting the Liberty Bell...or just asking for a photo in front of it.