Monday, June 29, 2015

SLBE Weeks 3 & 4

     The past two weeks I have had the privilege of shadowing the Maintenance and Natural Resource division of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
     In my week with Maintenance, I was introduced to a multitude of projects that Maintenance is working on in the park. I was also made aware that there is only one person who mows all of the grass in the park and only three people who clean all of the toilet facilities. I will never fail to be impressed with the jobs that these employees do-- a clean park and a clean toilet often can make or break a visitor's experience at the Lakeshore.
Barn made from Cedar bricks on S. Manitou Island
     I spent Tuesday and Wednesday on South Manitou Island where I was able to shadow the island maintenance crew who have the responsibility of powering the entire remote village via solar power and maintaining wells for the village and campground's potable water. The maintenance of their historical structures often has increased obstacles due to their distance from many resources. Still, with the help of volunteers, the historical structures are beautifully maintained regardless of the distance from the mainland.
     On Thursday, I was able to help the carpentry crew in replicating a rotting window frame from one of the historical houses. This was one of my favorite jobs-- it took me back to my years as an art major in the wood shop. I also helped in a barn restoration project in the Port Oneida rural historical district alongside the park's historical architect, where we stripped old window frames and re-glazed them to be put on the exterior of the barn. Inside, another crew replaced the barn's rotting floor boards. Friday, I was able to debrief with the head of Maintenance about budgeting, volunteers, and how projects are funded in the park.

Taking blood from a Piping Plover
     This past week, I shadowed crew leads in the Natural Resource division. On Tuesday, I worked with the Wildlife Crew and was able to GPS deer exclosure plots which were compared to other deer-accessible plots. These comparisons were used to examine what species of plants thrived inside the exclosures without grazing from deer. Wednesday, I was able to go into the field with the Piping Plover crew. The Piping Plover is an endangered shorebird, and 1/3 of the population nests within the boundaries of Sleeping Bear Dunes. I was able to watch researchers from the University of Minnesota take blood from one of the birds to do genetic testing on to determine what geographic area these Plovers had come from.
My first Baby's Breath
     On Thursday, I went out with the Vegetation crew. I shadowed the Baby's Breath crew which looks to control the invasive species. Baby's Breath stabilizes the dune with a very long taproot which creates an environment that many native plants cannot survive in. Native species, such as the threatened Pitcher's thistle, need shifting sands to cover their seeds to germinate new seedlings. The crew uses Integrated Pest Management methods to impact the dunes as little as possible, such as digging up plants, and only uses chemicals such as herbicides when absolutely necessary. It was great to work in a crew like this-- we used every team member to create a line so that we could cover as much ground as possible.
     Friday, I shadowed a campground rove, leaving reminders for campers about proper food storage, in order to ensure that the campers do not attract animals such as raccoon and bears.

These upcoming weeks, I will be shadowing Law Enforcement, and I am very excited
. Until next time!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Monocacy National Battlefield

Hello, my name is Tim Greene and I have the privilege of being a Temple University ProRanger at Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick, Maryland. Monocacy? I wasn't sure how to pronounce it either, or where to locate it on a map. However, after my first few weeks, I can not think of a better place to start my journey with the National Park Service. My short time here at a relatively small park has been a great experience and I am surrounded by a staff that welcomed me with open arms. 

Monocacy National Battlefield- Thomas Farm

My first week was with Resource Management, so I was able to break myself in by hauling logs, clearing brush, and getting the trails ready for the summer visitors. It was refreshing to be in the beautiful, rural environment. Unhealthy trees were removed to make a clear trail entrance and provide a safer place to hike and explore. My week with Resource Management was over before I knew it, but my time landscaping was not. The following week with maintenance included weed whacking for the majority of time, due to the heavy rain we received the week before. I was impressed with how much land the maintenance crew is able to mow and trim in a relatively short amount of time. The mowers are able to cover a lot of land quickly, however the artwork of handling a weed whacker also makes for a beautiful landscape. Learning how to properly put together, replace the string, and clean a weed whacker are skills that I will use for the rest of my life. My first two weeks of working in the sun and being outside was an experience that I enjoyed. Being in the outdoors is something I appreciate.

I was lucky to work with Nick, a Biological
Science Technician, who had experience with
cutting down trees.
 The guys at Maintenance showed me how they
work as a team to accomplish a large task.

The next week included working with the Administration. Monocacy shares an administration staff with Antietam National Battlefield, where the Administration building is located. I learned how they handle the budget, determine paychecks, order things that the park needs and can afford, and really serve as the communication center of the park. I look forward to my second week with them in late July to learn more about programs like FBMS (Financial and Business Management System). 

I am currently serving with the Interpretative Staff who are stationed at the visitor center. 

Monocacy hosts Ranger Programs each day at 11am and 2pm
where visitors are told and shown what happened during
the Battle that Saved Washington.
I am enjoying working with these people who are so passionate about giving the visitor a great experience. Interpretive Rangers, such as Brian Dankmeyer (above), are the face of the park. They have taught me different ways to make sure the visitors enjoy their time at Monocacy, while learning the significance of what happened here in 1864. They are constantly working on different projects to enhance the experience, and are proactive thinkers on how to improve each day. I am fascinated at how many different skill sets it takes to run a park, and I look forward to learning more while having fun in my remaining seven weeks. 

More blogs to come!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Boston National Historical Park

My name is Brittany Kriner and I am interning at Boston National Historical Park this summer. During my first week, I attended interpretation training. This turned out to be an excellent way to not only get acquainted with the city, but also become familiar with the historically significant pieces of Boston that were imperative for the American Revolution. Needless to say, Boston is filled with history and I will share my particularly favorite pieces as my internship progresses.

The first piece that I will share is the U.S.S. Constitution. As one of the first vessels for the U.S. Navy, this ship is the oldest commissioned warship in the world that can still sail under her own power. Her nickname, “Old Ironsides” comes from the durability of the live oak that the ship is made out of. Cannon balls would literally bounce off the sides of her hull, providing the image of “Old Ironsides”.

On June 10, 2015, I had the opportunity of attending a tour of the dry dock that the U.S.S. Constitution currently resides. She is dry docked about once every 20 years in order to be restored. When the U.S.S. Constitution is not being restored, she is docked within high security.

 (Pictured right - I am standing under the U.S.S. Constitution in dry dock)

Another interesting day was June 17, 2015. In 1775, this day was the first organized battle of the American Revolution. Although the “rebels” lost this battle, the Royal Army suffered significant casualties.  Bunker Hill Day commemorates this day for without such an event, there would be no Independence Day. Before I came to Boston, I had a vague memory of this event from past history courses. After attending a week of interpretation training, my understanding became clearer.  However, my first Bunker Hill Day experience is difficult to put into words.  This day brought together some of the many pieces that allow National Parks to reach its audience, including patriotic members of the community, interpretive rangers, re-en-actors, and many more. From the speeches to the musket shootings, the sense of freedom and community was ringing through all that day.

The Bunker Hill Monument Association began construction of monument in 1825. The association kept running out of funding for the monument so it was not completed until 1842. The part that I find to be the most interesting involves the group of women, “the mothers and daughters of Boston”, that held an imperative role in contributing to the construction’s funding. This group held a fair at Faneuil Hall Market in 1840, raising enough money to complete the project. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Colonial NHP Weeks 2/3

For the past 2 weeks I’ve been shadowing employees in the interpretation & education division as well as the administration division.  It was eye-opening learning how much goes into everyone’s individual role, and how much work they personally take on in both divisions.  One of the most significant things I took away from interpretation & education is that they are two separate entities.  Interpretation is the opportunity to engage the visitor in our resources and make them more curious in the time they are here.  Education wants a certain outcome at the end for a group, and there are specific objectives.  They may use similar methods to obtain their goals, but they do not have the same goal in mind.  One of more valuable things I took away from administration, which was reiterated through the many people I shadowed, was that not all divisions always affect each other, but administration affects everyone in the park.  As a division, in a very broad context, they are responsible for payroll, managing the parks budget, making sure divisions have their projects in on time for contracting, IT, coordinating volunteers and the list goes on.  

Getting to shadow both divisions helped give me a new appreciation for the work they do from a different perspective, rather than just as an outsider.   

During special occasions, like the 
L'hermione, Colonial has live firing artillery 
events using cannons and different living
 historians such as the 
Royal Artillery. 
The Fifes & Drums of York Town are boys
and girls between 10 and 18 years old and 
perform regularly around the park.       

A Park Ranger guided tour of Historic Jamestown's 
New Towne (shown) and Old Towne, and explains the 
history of the first permanent English settlement.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

SLBE Week 1 & 2

     Hello! My name is Julia Klejmont, and I am the ProRanger interning at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore this summer in Empire, Michigan. I am currently a rising senior at Temple University, studying Public Health. I am thrilled to be at Sleeping Bear Dunes this summer. This park is rich with bountiful natural resources, including beautiful bluffs and beaches, as well as plenty of sand dunes to climb, all of which inspired me to set the goal of hiking every trail in the park before my 10-week internship is over.

The Mobile Command Center - North Bar Lake Incident
     My first few days at the park consisted of employee training days, where all new and returning employees discussed the mission of SLBE, new projects the park was undertaking, and many policies: ranging from bat and tick safety to operational leadership. Wednesday, I spent the morning with Chief Ranger Phil Akers discussing my goals in the National Park Service and spent the afternoon in dispatch with Mr. Tom Davison learning how to use the radios, various groups and modes to ensure interoperability with other departments. Thursday, I went on my first ride along with Ranger Joe Lachowski, where we responded to a medical call outside of the park. We arrived first on scene, where Joe performed CPR and the patient was delivered six shocks from an AED, before being transported to the local medical center. They underwent surgery and survived! Saturday, the Ranger division-- accompanied by Benzie County and Leelanau County Deputies, Michigan State Troopers, and the Traverse Narcotics Team-- responded to a planned 800-person illegal party at North Bar Lake they became aware of through social media. The show of force showed a reaction on social media and deterred any illegal activity in the area.

     My second week, I sat in on the Wildland Fire Refresher for employees with their Incident Qualifications Card. Below are pictures of the class practicing deploying fire shelters, which rangers should only use as a last resort when a route of exit from a fire is not available.

      The rest of this week, I will be shadowing the Administration Department, where I will learn about personnel, job descriptions, hiring, property, purchasing, as well as budgets, accounts and the various systems that allow administration to respond to these needs within the park.

     Until next time!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Colonial National Historical Park

Hi my name is Hannah Sender and I am part of the new ProRanger Cohort.  I am currently interning at Colonial National Historical Park in Virginia, and living at the Yorktown Coastguard Base.  At Temple University I will be going into my senior year as a criminal justice major, with a minor in environmental studies.  I have been intrigued by this program since my freshman year and was esthetic that a new cohort was finally started.  Our first major outing as a group was at leadership camp, which was a fantastic week.  Most people would think of the saying “too many chiefs and not enough Indians,” when you put twelve natural born leaders together for five days, that there would be lack of communication, or too much, and ignorance of others ideas.  Yet this was not the case, we worked through what communication problems we had, and made sure everyone’s ideas were heard.  We could not have worked together better and the week flew by.  

At Colonial NHP I had the privilege of meeting the Acting Superintendent Jennifer Flynn, Acting Deputy Superintendent Steve Williams, Chief Ranger Ken Doak and many other employees my first day at the park at a staff meeting.  I spent the first week doing ride-alongs with my supervisor Ranger Mark Krebs, getting to learn about both Yorktown and Jamestown.  A major part of CNHP is the Colonial Parkway, which connects Yorktown to Jamestown.  Similar to the Tour trails of Yorktown, Island Loop Drive takes visitors around where the settlers arrived Jamestown.  

This past weekend starting Friday June 5th, the L’hermione was docked in Yorktown, which is a replica of the original French ship that arrived in the U.S. in 1780 bringing Marquis de Lafayette.  Lafayette’s forces and the Hermione were crucial in the surrender of the British in Yorktown.  This event was streamed live so the French could see the ceremonies over the weekend.  French dignitaries, and the Governor of Virginia attended for ceremonies including a 21 gun salute, with a multiple canon returns upon the ships arrival, followed by a wreath ceremony.  It was a busy weekend with visitors coming all the way from France, but a fantastic learning experience. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Fort McHenry National Monument & Historical Shrine

 This gorgeous view of the fort with the big star spangled banner flag!
 I love being at this view I can see the whole fort, visiting center & also seeing the whole river and being around the sea wall is a great wind feeling. I enjoy every moment I spend on top of bastion 5 where I can see the whole fort & its very relaxing.