Monday, February 15, 2016

Allow Me To Introduce Myself

          From the time I was a child I’ve always been fascinated with the way natural systems work. I believe this is largely due to me spending the first eight years of my life in the Tidewater area of Southeastern Virginia. This region lies right where the continent meets the Atlantic Ocean and is very rich in ecological diversity. This plethora of life gave me a pretty good reason to spend as much time outdoors as possible just taking in and exploring the intriguing landscape and the plants and animals living there. When I wasn’t outdoors I was usually listening to Sir David Attenborough or Steve Irwin narrate some spectacular ecological occurrence on a television program. This love of the natural world has stayed with me through my life and continues to shape my interests and hobbies in the present.

          My name is Taylor Johnson and I am one of the new ProRangers in Cohort 5. Today, as an environmental studies student at Temple University one of my primary interests in the National Park Service is their ability to simultaneously educate visitors and enforce laws regarding the treatment of the environment and local ecosystems. National Park Service units provide the perfect opportunity for the public to come and learn about the history and culture of the United States and to take in the scenery in some of the most beautiful areas in the United States. It is my belief that these beautiful, well maintained open spaces can serve as places of insight for those visiting. I feel that it would be quite a difficult task to leave from a visit to a NPS unit without having gained respect for the natural and cultural resources preserved there. However, when visitors decide to violate laws instead of taking in their surroundings, law enforcement ranger are there to step in and administer the appropriate action needed to help prevent visitors from violating these laws again in the future. I believe that this pairing of education and enforcement is an incredibly effective way to affect the public’s thoughts’ on environmental issues.

          What first got me interested in Temple University’s ProRanger program was the potential I saw for the availability of resources I’m going to need to shape myself into a highly skilled and refined law enforcement officer in the National Park Service. As I became further acquainted with the program I began to truly see the scope of these resources, whether they be aimed at my professional or personal development. There are ample opportunities for my fellow ProRangers and I to engage in hands on training and group exercises to prepare us for the situations we will be facing in the future as park rangers. Additionally, our engagement in a variety of academic and professional courses allows to gain an understanding of the full scope of the National Park Service and the effect it has on the American public. As a member of the relatively new Cohort 5 I’ve only had a small taste of these experiences but I am eager for more.

          Looking ahead to my first summer internship through the ProRanger program I’m incredibly excited to be spending it learning a National Park Service unit inside and out. When it comes to what type of NPS unit I prefer I’m very open, but I do have a preference for parks that are focused more on showcasing the natural world than they are on displaying history and telling the story of people and events of the past. Most of the NPS units I’ve been to in the past have been historical parks and sites but the parks I’ve visited that really stand out in my memory are the scenic and picturesque parks. I feel that natural, scenic parks encapsulate the excitement and adventure or spending time away from the normal landscapes of life that many associate with the NPS. However, the type of park I’m stationed as this seems fairly insignificant when compared with the fact that I’ll be spending my summer in one of the most interesting and educational places in the United States.

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