Tuesday, July 5, 2016

One Big Happy Family

“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” –Edna Buchanan-

I have now been at BUFF for five weeks and have grown to not only love the park itself, but also the community within it. My supervisor Kevin Moses told me even before I arrived in Saint Joe, Arkansas that Buffalo National River was “one big happy family” and that working at BUFF was one of the best places to work because there is just an awesome sense of community and Kevin was one hundred percent right... here at Buffalo National River, everyone is family.

Over the past five weeks, I have made so many friends within the BUFF family and have made so many memories that I am sure I will remember for years to come. BUFF is home to some of the nicest, most caring people that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Everyone is constantly checking in and making sure that I am feeling at home and at ease. I feel as if I have known the BUFF family for years and it has only been weeks.

Chrissie (center) and I (right) at the starting line
of a local Fourth of July 5k
Just this past weekend, I was able to ride along with an Upper District protection ranger, Billy Bell. After our shift, Billy invited me to his home to have dinner with his wife, Chrissie, and his parents. It was one of the best meals that I have ever had! It was COMPLETELY homemade! Everything we ate was grown in the Bell family garden. The next day, which just so happened to be the Fourth of July, Chrissie and I ran a local 5k together and enjoyed the "Fire in the Sky" event that was held in Harrison, AR. Billy and Chrissie told me that I was welcome to stay at their home anytime I would like and come to find out… I am not the first to have felt at home at the Bell’s.

Eating some post-race watermelon
After dinner, they told me that their home has always been open to seasonals, field trainees, and interns alike that may be feeling a little homesick or lonely. The Bell’s even took in a local teenager and gave him a home when he needed it the most and helped him get into college and start a life for himself. They are two of the most caring and thoughtful people that I have ever met and they are just two members of the “big happy family” that is here at BUFF.

I have come to realize that, much like BUFF, the National Park Service is also “one big happy family.” As an agency, the NPS is small and close-knit. Everyone in the Park Service is working towards a common goal… to conserve, preserve, and protect our national parks and this common goal is the glue that holds the family together.

My awesome experiences at BUFF have made me very excited for my future within the National Park Service because from this point forward, I will always be a part of the National Park Service family.