This week, I'm shadowing Ranger Sam for an insider's view into the heart of National Parks, interpretation. Through interpretive programs, an average day out becomes a memorable journey. Interesting exhibits add a new dimension to your trip, guided tours paint a vivid picture of the past, and interactive displays bring the park's stories to life. These elements enrich a visit and create a lasting connection with the park. In short, interpretation is about more than information—engagement, education, preservation, and personal connection. Interpretation elevates the visitor experience, turning an ordinary park visit into an extraordinary journey.
Ranger Sam and Tom informed me about various techniques interp rangers deploy when presenting programs. For example, adjusting to environmental factors is critical to programs. An interp ranger that sticks to the scheduled program will not acknowledge anomalies, while an experienced interp ranger will acknowledge abnormal events and attempt to weave them into their program. Ranger Tom experienced such a dilemma during his program. He developed a new interpretive program for twelve (12) kids. The kids were split into two groups: Swedes and Dutch. Each group had to decide where to settle in the Brandywine Valley. One of the participants became disruptive because they wanted to avoid working in groups. So, Ranger Tom added a third group to appease the juvenile. Soon after, the kid became more disruptive, and Ranger Sam had to step in. But Ranger Tom handled the situation like a pro.
The next day, Ranger Tom and Lexi showed me various projects interpretation was working on and multiple spots along the trails I had yet to come across. During the tour, Lexi told me about the different volunteer organizations that work with FRST. In addition, she and Ranger Tom answered my outstanding questions at the time.
My last day at FRST felt like the last day of a beautiful course in college. I went into HQ prepared to say my goodbyes and continue the journey. My presence at FRST was not a big deal. I was just another intern leaving, making room for the next. This day, Friday was filled with many meetings. Earlier in the day, I saw the FRST staff passing around a card and signing it. The card was for another intern, Mario, who is also leaving. The suspense of when they would give Mario the card was prevalent during the meetings. Then, Sonja and Sam escaped and came back with Pizza and cake. While everyone scattered, I was given a card. I was in absolute shock and did not know how to respond. My brain couldn't compute this action.
As I read the heartfelt scriptures, I realized the arduous journey to FRST was worth it. Thanks for having me, FRST!