It was a scorching 95 degrees Fahrenheit in Denver today! The Get Outdoors Colorado event was a success. I was able to connect with many people focused on accomplishing similar goals, to diversify audiences in outdoor settings. Meeting the Urban Rangers of Denver was definitely a highlight. For those who don’t know, the Urban Ranger program is a partnership between the National Park Service, Environmental Learning for Kids and Denver Parks and Rec. Urban Rangers are high school and college students that teach environmental education programs to underserved youth in the greater Denver area. Seeing these incredibly young folks working hard to complete their mission is inspiring!
On the way back home from Denver, my supervisor and I decided to take the scenic route. From Morrison, we took CO-67 S to Woodland Park. Although most of the drive had a speed limit of 30 mph, it was worth it. Views of the South Platte River off CO-67 are incredibly serene.
Back at the ranch, progress on the Geo/Paleo Camp is rolling along. My brown bag presentation on Friday was lengthy but productive. One of the most significant changes we are making to the schedule is to have the camp run from Tuesday to Saturday, as opposed to the traditional Monday through Friday format. The reason for this is we believe it is incredibly important to provide parents with the opportunity of attending the last day of camp. Not only would the parents be present at the graduation ceremony, but they would also be exposed to the mission of Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and the National Park Service. Most of us can agree that parents serve as the role models for our youth. Therefore, if we can instill a sense of stewardship in our youth’s parents, they will, in return, pass it on to their children.
“From climate change to civil rights, the job of the National Park Service is to stand behind and represent our nation’s most challenging stories.”
On the first day of what will be two weeks of seasonal staff training, one of my supervisors stood at the front of the thirty members of the Division of Interpretation and Education for the East side of Rocky Mountain National Park and said these words. I was struck and excited, reminded of exactly why (and how) I am excited by the Park Service and my role here as the Science Education Intern.
This last week has been a whirlwind of long days, note taking and research, as the entire department convenes for seasonal training and explore our relationships with one another, the Park, our jobs and roles. I’ve really valued this first week, with opportunities ranging from beginning to research our own programs to develop, to traveling through the tundra, to engaging with our counterparts on the Western side of the Park, because of the emphasis every single one of our supervisors has placed on value, originality and depth. It is incredible to be part of a team that strives not only to represent the Park to its visitors and use the natural beauty and significance of Rocky to unlock an appreciation for natural spaces and environmental protection, but also properly arming and empowering its staff.
Each supervisor, with precise training, workshops, resources and sessions has asked each of us on the staff to be reflective in regard to how we see ourselves and others and think critically about our mission and task. Even as I am daunted by the prospect of having just one more week of training before I have to give my very first public programs, I feel relaxed knowing I have been entrusted with a plethora of techniques, skills and trainings to help me feel comfortable — with myself, the resources, the park and leading programming. The level of care and warmth I feel from this team is a big shift coming from New York, but a welcomed one. I was happy for the short break of this weekend and the opportunity to explore some more of Rocky by myself, but I am delighted by the prospect of next week’s training.
I have now completed my first week and a half of the internship (I started in the middle of last week), and I’ve got to say I’m pretty hooked on this place. The Pacific Ocean, the wildlife and the people here have welcomed me with open arms.
For the month of June, I will be working on several different projects. To name a few, I will be in the field conducting intertidal zone surveying to assess biodiversity, Elephant and Harbor seal surveys, invertebrate diversity monitoring in Drake’s Estero, Eelgrass mapping, and a marine science education program. (More details on each of these projects, to come)
So far, I have participated in an array of really awesome projects. This week, I have started my training in the statistical program “R”. In July, I will be analyzing an extensive dataset on Harbor seal population variations and will be using R to do so. The park is interested in understanding the variation in their population size across six different sites over the past several decades. Please enjoy this lovely photo of our field station housing’s resident Harbor seal to get a better idea on how absolutely adorable these guys and gals are (if you’ve never seen one before). Typically, Harbor seals are very skittish, but this guy just plops himself on the dock on a daily basis and doesn’t mind us kayaking by or birds joining him for his sunbath. (Disclaimer: Marine mammals are federally protected and can be dangerous when agitated, so keep your distance!)
(Photo credit: Till Groth)
I am also on the Social Media team here at Point Reyes. For World Oceans Day, which was on June 8, I created a post to celebrate the Earth’s oceans. I had the help of a couple of my lovely housemates. The picture I took is below. You see interns Till (Lupine Restoration Intern) and Michelle (Archeology Intern) showing their love and appreciation for the world’s oceans. Their love is so strong they couldn’t help but form a heart with their bodies as soon as they stepped onto the sand. 🙂