Sunday, July 26, 2015

Best of Both Worlds

Time at Monocacy National Battlefield is flying by! They say "time flies when you're having fun" and I can say with confidence that this is the case in my situation. The last two weeks have been a great experience with two very different divisions. My weeks with Maintenance and Interpretation reassured me that it takes many diverse skill sets to run a park effectively.

For my days with Maintenance, we would report to the visitor center early in the morning to make sure that the place is spotless. We would vacuum, clean exhibits, dust, and clean the bathrooms. It may not be the most attractive duty, but someone's got to do it. With that mindset, the Maintenance team does a great job. 
Cleaning toilets isn't fun, but Andrew showed
me how to do it with a smile from ear to ear.
People come in from walking the trails with dirt on their boots. We clean the visitor center every morning, and make sure that the visitor has a pleasant experience. 
Thankfully, I was also able to get outside. 
Keeping the arrowhead clean and welcoming.

During the days with the Maintenance crew, I was able to continue sharpening my skills with the weed whacker. Pictured above, we also cleared brush and were able to put it through the chipper. I loved being outside and working with the guys, but was pleasantly surprised with a trip to Philadelphia.
Pictured above (L-R): ProRanger Tim Greene (me), ProRanger Isaiah Lewis,
Chief Ranger Jeremy Murphy, and ProRanger John Hesdon.
It was awesome to see my former Chief Ranger Jeremy Murphy (now at Gettysburg National Military Park) and fellow ProRangers John and Isaiah. We were able to be a part of the Incident Command Team meeting, which was a great display of effective planning, unavoidable stress, and amazing teamwork. As a member of the National Park Service, you have many opportunities to take on collateral duties that can take your career on a different and exciting path. Having unique experiences like this will only help you grow as a ranger. 

As my time with Maintenance came to a close, it was time to switch gears and work with the Interpretive Rangers. I enjoyed my time at the Visitor Center because you are constantly communicating with visitors. I may not be able to answer every question about Monocacy, but I can point them in the right direction and give them a nice smile. Making sure that the visitors have a pleasant experience is key to the growth of our park. I also enjoyed sitting in on the Ranger Programs, which we host twice a day. 
Ranger Brian Dankmeyer giving a program. 
The Interpretive Rangers are all about customer experience. They are never bored on the job, because there is always something that can be improved. Pictured above, Ranger Brian is outside on a beautiful day. He is feeling fine while being well covered from the sun. However, it is clear that the visitors are a little warm and the sun was impacting their comfort. Instead of going along with the program and ignoring the uncomfortable situation, Brian asked them for advice. The end result:
Improvising in order to meet the visitor's satisfaction is an important skill.
The whole crew moved into the air-conditioned Visitor Center and Brian gave the program from an electronic map upstairs. This may seem like a small gesture, but the visitors were beyond pleased. This situation impacted me because even while giving an in-depth program, the visitor's comfort was still on Brian's mind, and he acted. Having a passion for pleasing the visitors is another priority that I have noted for my future.

I say that I experienced the best of both worlds because the Maintenance crew works physically and tirelessly to give the visitor a pleasant experience, while the Interpretive Rangers take a creative and passionate mindset to please the visitor. These two divisions complete very different everyday tasks, but have the same mission. Giving the customer a satisfying visit is the goal and I have been lucky enough to see talented people dedicate their time and passion to achieve this goal, while continuing to improve as time goes by. 

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