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

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