Sunday, February 12, 2017

Took a little while, but I made it

           Hello, my name is John Hardie.  I am a senior psychology major at Temple University, and after what seems like a great deal of time, a member of the Proranger program’s cohort 6.  When I first heard about the program in my sophomore year, I was pretty excited.  I had been losing interest in my psychology major and was searching for alternatives without much success.  With the thought of life after college weighing on me and little direction to invest my energies in, the email I received informing me of this program seemed like some kind of divine intervention, a cosmic coincidence if you will.  The idea of having a job after school was comforting.  The idea of a career spent outdoors, with varied activities, protecting the country’s most beautiful and significant places, felt like the direction I had been looking for.  There was only one problem.
          In my lack of satisfaction with my course of study, amongst other things, I had made plans to give myself some very literal direction, if only for a few months.  That direction was south.  When it came time to apply to the program, most of my arrangements had already been made for my southbound through-hike of the Appalachian Trail in the summer through fall of 2015.  As such, I would not be able to participate in the first summer internship or begin the coursework for the program.  Though I recognized the uniqueness of Proranger, the opportunity to hike the trail was something I could not pass up.  The journey took me through several National Park units I had not been to, Harpers Ferry, Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains (as well as the trail itself); and it only reaffirmed my desire to spend time in nature and to make sure that others could continue to enjoy that pleasure.
          Growing up, I was fortunate enough to visit many National Parks, from Grand Canyon and Grand Teton, to Bryce and Zion, to Yellowstone and Yosemite, to Gettysburg and Valley Forge.  The beauty of the nature parks speaks for itself, though many cannot hear or choose to ignore it.  The cultural import of the historical parks is often overlooked as well, but is an essential part of being conscious of the past in order to be better prepared for the future.  Having spent most of the last year or so here in Philadelphia, I would definitely appreciate being in a nature park. However, I also have an appreciation for history, and wherever I find myself this summer I am sure I will learn a great deal and discover something to get excited about.

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