Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Here We Go

Hello everyone, my name is Lauren Butler, and I’m a proud member of cohort 6. I’m a sophomore Environmental Studies major and German minor here at Temple. I’ve spent my whole life growing up around forests, rivers, and taking every advantage I can to be outside. When it came time to leave High School and choose a career path, I was completely lost. I had too many interests, and felt too pressured to choose certain careers. I wanted a physical job, an intellectual job, a job outside, and so on. I needed a school that offered a wide selection of majors and career paths as to not limit myself, and despite my inclination to be in nature, I knew that a city education could offer me opportunities I wouldn’t find elsewhere, so I landed myself at Temple.

I was right about those opportunities.

My choice of major and my application to the ProRanger program coincided perfectly. I noticed that back home in the Poconos, the beautiful landscape I grew up in was being mistreated, over developed, and unappreciated. Learning about what it takes to manage land and preserve it inspired me to become an Environmental Studies major. I have a real passion for the protection of wilderness. I came across the “advertisement” for Temple's ProRanger Program many times in the Temple Honors emails, and before I had found my passion, I dismissed it as a career where you’re forced to wear funny hats. By the third or fourth time I had seen the ad, and had delved into the Ranger website to actually learn about the career, I was extremely intrigued. The ProRanger program embodies the protection of everything I hold passion for. The National Parks have always been places I hold in high esteem, large areas appreciated for their vast resources both natural and historical. To be a Ranger is to dedicate yourself to the protection, maintenance, and enjoyment of others in these magnificent parks. I of course applied, and the moment that I left Preview Day I felt a strong sense that what I was involved in was right for me, something that I wasn’t akin to feeling after so many years of trying to figure out what it is I want to do with my life. The community formed by the ProRanger Program is led by people that I cannot wait to learn from, and is filled with students that nourish the camaraderie, discipline, and excitement that comes with being an NPS Ranger. I am ready to start my journey as a law enforcement officer for the National Park Service.

Program Visit: OZAR

The visit to Ozark Scenic Riverways began with a flight to St. Louis where we stopped to visit the Jefferson Expansion Memorial.  It was great to see alumnus Dan Sweeney and to get some feedback on the changes we’ve made to the program.  Then Junior (Pro)Ranger Finn and I went up the Arch and completed the junior ranger programs at both the Arch and the Old Courthouse.  We learned from some of the rangers that there was another local park, Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, located on our way out of town.  We stopped by there and toured the home and farm of Ulysses S. Grant and earned a third junior ranger badge before (a late) lunch.  Score!!

Ranger Sweeney and Junior Ranger McGarvey

McGarveys and the Arch

Swearing in.

We arrived in Van Buren, MO late in the afternoon and met ProRanger Julia Klejmont for a visit to one of the park’s many springs, and quick tour of the park’s cabins that were built the Civilian Conservation Corps.  They looked beautiful but are unfortunately closed for restoration.  Next visit!

The next morning Julia and Emily, one of the other rangers, picked us for a canoe tour of the Current River.  

Ready to tour the park by canoe
Although we could see the concessionaire’s huge inventory of tubes, rafts and shuttle vans, it was hard to believe this peaceful and quiet river (on a Tuesday morning) is a crazy party scene on the weekends.  We only saw one other boat the whole morning.  Julia described the patrols she’d done on the river and many of the interesting cases that she’d had the opportunity participate in this summer.

Then we headed back to headquarters to present the plaque to Superintendent Larry Johnson and Chief Ranger Dennis Weiland.

Weiland, Klejmont and Johnson
Entering Round Spring Cave

After lunch, we headed to the Upper Current District to tour the Round Spring Cave. Unfortunately this is the only open cave in the park due to White Nose Syndrome which is affecting the bat population. The inside of the cave is about 58 degrees year around, which was a welcome respite from the heat index of over 100 degrees outside!  We finished the evening with a visit to a Van Buren institution, The Jolly Cone, for a cold treat!

Disinfecting shoes to prevent the spread of White Noise Syndrome

On our final morning, we headed to the Visitor Center to finish the junior ranger program and earn another badge!  Finn was asked to pose for the OZAR Facebook page!  

Another day, another badge
Bob the cat and Finn the junior ranger

Then stopped by the Fire Cache while we waited to see if the storm was going to pass.  While we were there, we tested out some equipment.  

Testing out the equipment

The rain stopped so we paid a visit to Alley Mill where we got to check out the old flour mill’s working equipment.  Maintenance was removing a damaged tree nearby so we didn’t get to see the turbine in action.  

Grinding by hand
Finally, we took a picnic lunch to a popular family swimming spot that Julia had learned about while patrolling.  Finn enjoyed swimming and climbing on the rocks while Julia and I sweated in the hot, hot sun. 

We said goodbye to Julia and hit the road for Buffalo National River a few hours away in Arkansas.

Up next:  BUFF

Monday, April 3, 2017

Program Visit: VAFO

ProRanger Stephanie Hudson was the only ProRanger this summer to get a visit from not one, not two, but from three members of the ProRanger Program staff!  One hot summer morning in July, Adrian Fernandez, Tony Luongo and I met at nearby Valley Forge National Historical Park for a visit.

After a tour of the Visitor Center and a screening of the park’s movie, we headed to park headquarters for meetings.   

It was great to meet with long time program supporters!   After interviews with Chief Ranger Mike Valora, Supervisory Ranger Lofton Wiley, we presented the program plaque to Acting Superintendent Pat Madden.

Luongo, Fernandez, Hudson, Wiley and Valora outside headquarters

Stephanie had clearly done her homework and planned a visit to the park that covered a lot of ground that none of us had ever seen!   We saw several areas of the park where Stephanie has been working and also checked out the Bone Cave and some ruins.

Checking out some ruins

Stephanie shows us how to identify crawfish
The “Crayfish Corps” at Valley Forge works to remove invasive crawfish species from the Valley Creek.  So, we donned waders and joined the corps!  Stephanie taught us how to catch the crawfish, determine if they were native or invasive, and to remove or release them as appropriate.  She kept a careful count of efforts for the park’s resource management staff.  We also had a little friendly competition amongst ourselves (I don’t want to brag, so I won’t tell you who won!).

Cool water on a hot day!
Measuring our catch

A private carillon concert up close and personal!

Crayfishing in the cool water on a hot day seemed like the highlight of the day.  But, Stephanie had one more surprise for us.  There is a church, Washington Memorial Chapel, that is encircled by VAFO, but not actually part of the park.  The carillonneur, Doug Gefvert, took us on a tour of the chapel.  The chapel houses the Justice Bell, which is a replica of the Liberty Bell commissioned by suffragists - the bell's clapper was chained to remain silent until women were permitted the right to vote.

On the Veterans Wall of Honor, I was excited to find the name of my great-(not sure how many greats to put in there)-grandfather, Abraham Miller, a Revolutionary War soldier who was part of the winter encampment at Valley Forge.  Finally, we ascended the carillon tower for a better view and got to watch up close as the carillonneur played a private concert for us.  Well, as private as an instrument that broadcasts its music from a tower can be!  If you've never seen a carillon played before, it is quite amazing to watch!

Fernandez, Hudson and McGarvey at the end of the day!
Since it was well into the evening, all the offices and conference rooms we closed, so we finished up the day with a meeting in Valley Forge’s [air conditioned!] gym! 

Up next:  OZAR

2017 Park Assignments!

The ProRanger Program is pleased to announce student assignments for Summer 2017!

Boston National Historical Park - Josh Leahy
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park - John Hardie
Christiansted National Historic Site - Brennan McAuley
Colonial National Historical Park - Sam Vecchione
Gettysburg National Military Park - Kyle Maurer
Hot Springs National Park - Nick Gosik
Mammoth Cave National Park - Angelo Algeri
San Juan National Historic Site - Brennan McAuley
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area - Stephanie Hudson
Yosemite National Park - Justen Willliams

ProRangers Lauren Butler and Kayla McComsey will be postponing their first summer internship until Summer 2018.

2017 Partner Parks!

The ProRanger Program is pleased to announce the participating parks for Summer 2017!

New Parks to the ProRanger Program
Hot Springs National Park 
Mammoth Cave National Park

Returning Partner Parks
Boston National Historical Park
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Christiansted National Historic Site
Colonial National Historical Park
Gettysburg National Military Park
San Juan National Historic Site
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Yosemite National Park 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Exciting News for Summer II

Hello everyone! It is me Brennan from Cohort 5. Roughly a year ago I posted my first ProRanger blog post, where I was able to introduce myself and announce my first summer internship would be with The National Parks of Boston.  The succession of blog posts that followed told the story of my summer and I will include the links to all of my previous blog posts below so you can catch up if you are new to the blog. Overall, my summer up in Boston taught me so much about the park’s operations and how all five of the division work together to ensure that the National Park Service’s mission is carried out. 

The ProRanger program has kept me on my feet (in the most literal sense) all school year. Over the past year I have been involved in so many ranger related activities such as PEB’s, control tactics trainings, MOCC Training (Motorboat Operator Certification Course), recruitment events, guest speakers, Firearms Safety Training, weekend camping trips, and so much more. In addition to these hands on experiences, I was able to engage in three classes offered here at Temple University for the ProRanger Program titled, “Leadership & Communication, “Land Management and Federal Law Enforcement,” and finally “An Introduction to Heritage Interpretation in the National Park Service.”  I found these courses to be extremely informative and applicable to my summer internship and ultimately my career in the NPS. Both my experiences in and out of the classroom this past school year are all adding up to give me the valuable tools I need for my summer internship and beyond.
Getting quite familiar with this handbook  

     ↓↓Announcement ↓↓

Now that I have brought you up to speed, I would like to make a huge announcement! For my summer II internship I will be at St. Croix which includes Christiansted National Historic Site, Buck Island Reef National Monument, and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve and at San Juan National Historic Site in San Juan Puerto Rico.  I have not yet mastered the skill of being in two places at once, so my summer will be split up between the two islands. The first five weeks will be spent on St. Croix and the following five weeks will be spent at San Juan National Historic site.

This summer internship will be different from my first internship in that I will be spending the entire ten weeks with Law Enforcement. I am very excited about this, and really look forward to focusing all of my attention on learning as much as I can in terms of LE in the Park Service. That being said, my experiences in Boston and with the program have taught me the importance of the five divisions all working together to ensure the park runs smoothly and safely. With this knowledge, I am eager to extend myself to the other four divisions and learn from them to gain an all-encompassing understanding of the parks.

Summer reading never looked so good 

In other news, the Park Leaders show is a podcast I enjoy listening to that focuses on leadership in county, state, federal, and even international parks. I was able to connect two of my favorite park leadership influences, Temple Prorangers and The Park Leaders show which led to the creation of this episode.  Listen closely to my segment at the end of the podcast!

“In this episode of the Park Leaders Show, Adrian discusses the ProRanger Program. We also hear from Brennan McAuley.Brennan McAuley is a student in the ProRanger program. Brennan shares his experience in the program and gives us an inside look to being a student working towards becoming a Park Ranger”. – Jody Maberry 

Here are the National Park Service units I will be working at this summer!

 Christiansted National Historic Site

Read up on my last summer internship here!!

Thanks for reading.  Be sure to stay tuned because it is going to be one incredible summer!