I've mentioned my coworker, Fawn, on here before. But my actual supervisor is Anne, who's been out sick with bronchitis most of the past 3 weeks (most of the time I've been here). Anne is the one who interviewed me and offered me the internship I have now. She's the one who did the paperwork and technically runs the education program at the park.
Today after our staff meeting, Anne called me "The One with All the Ideas".
I think I do have lots of ideas. Some of them might even be good. But perhaps, rather than ideas, I have a bit of vision. It's really the dream of a little girl who fell in love with those alpine sunflowers who face east to capture the morning sun.
I was one of those lucky few kids. We had a car that we could pile full of stuff and drive out to the mountains every summer. There simply is no feeling like running out into the middle of a wide open mountain valley, surrounded by wildflowers and gurgling rivers, hugged on all sides by rugged sentinels that have stood the test of time.
There really is no finer cathedral in all the world.
In the next 11 months, I need to get my act together. I need take my ideas and put them on paper. When one of the park's permanent staff suggests something, I need to spend a few hours working out that idea. I've decided that I don't need credit for the work or projects, as long as the park benefits, I'll be happy. This is not a battle for the environmentalists. It is a struggle that must be embraced by those of us lucky enough to have a relationship with our wide open spaces.
Today in our staff meeting, Julia (acting East side interp lead) mentioned her excitement over the idea of creating podcasts for the park. Julia is young enough still that she has fresh ideas and isn't hindered by the old-school vision of the NPS that some of our colleagues have. But she's also been around long enough to understand the dubious, often political game-playing, mentality of her bosses.
Tonight, I started on a project that Fawn suggested. In June, we have all of the 4th graders from a local town (about 80 students) coming to the park for a field day of sorts. We are going to create a set of scavenger hunts to get the kids involved in learning about the park and its resources. We are hoping that the kids will get a kick out of finding the details. From there, I'd love to turn these scavenger hunts into a continuation of the Junior Ranger program. This park has a lot of returning families year after year (from what I understand), just like our beloved Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. If these families have kids that have gone through the Junior Ranger program in past years, we would like to engage them again in a new activity. I think Fawn's scavenger hunt idea could be adapted for each of the four main road regions (as I see them): Longmire, Paradise, Ohanapecosh*, and Sunrise*. We also have tons of families out here every weekend during the winter specifically for sledding and winter activities at Paradise. But the current Junior Ranger program is geared for summer activities and conditions. I'd like to adapt the U.S. Forest Service's Junior Snow Ranger program for our park, as we have 6-8 months of heavy snow cover every year.
We need to engage, and capture the imagination and spirit, of the kids that come to the park. They are our future supporters. We need to reconnect them with the world around them and the resources that make their lives possible.
Give him a fire in his heart
Give him a light in his eyes
Give him the wild wind for a brother
And the wild Montana skies
-John Denver, Wild Montana Skies
*These areas are only open in the summertime.
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