Friday, July 1, 2016

The Waiting Game

“Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on what we’re waiting for.” -Charles Stanley-

For the past two weeks, I have been working with the interpretation division here at BUFF and I have had a great time getting to know the amazing interpretative rangers here and interacting with the park visitors. I have learned so much about the park just by listening and observing the interactions the interpretive rangers have with the park visitors and I have even been able to begin to field some visitor questions and help guide them to their destinations.

Ranger Ramseyer posing at our
BUFF booth at Elk Fest
One of the highlights of my experience thus far with interpretation was being able to work a booth at Elk Fest in Jasper, AR. This festival takes place in the elk capital of Arkansas and attracts both locals and tourists. The festival has live music, vendor booths, food trucks, a talent show, and even a pageant, but the main event of the festival is the elk permit drawing where hunters put their name in to be able to hunt elk within park boundaries on a restricted basis. I helped set up, take down, and run a Buffalo National River information booth and in doing so, I was able to represent the Park Service and interact with hundreds of festival goers and park visitors. It was an honor to be able to represent the Park Service at Elk Fest. I learned so much about the park and really honed my interpretive skills.

With that being said, I have come to learn that being an interpretive ranger is somewhat of a waiting game. Due to staffing shortages, the interpretive staff here at BUFF is spread rather thin and instead of planning and executing interpretive programs for park visitors, they spend most of their time in the visitor centers answering any questions (that can be few and far between at times) that park visitors might have both over the phone and in person. Because most of their time is spent in the visitor centers, interpretive rangers spend the majority of their time orienteering rather than interpreting.

While this may be the case, the interpretive rangers here at BUFF are some of the nicest and friendliest people that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and despite not getting to do what they love (interpreting) as much as they would like to, they still maintain a positive attitude and come to work excited everyday with a smile on their face. They do an amazing job representing the Park Service. As a future protection ranger for the National Park Service, I hope to have the same passion that the interpretive rangers here at BUFF do for their job and for the Park Service as a whole.


  1. Awesome blog, Shauni! BUFF is lucky to have you!

  2. Thank you so much Lauren, but I think it's the opposite... I'm lucky to be here!