A foggy Saturday morning, we arrived hands full of boxes, cables and misting machines. “Why a misting machine, when you have mother earth right?” We all low key panic, but smile and walk to our set up tent. “All the planning put into this event and a little fog might ruin it” I think to myself “Stop, you have to stay positive” — Sail Boston had arrived and the weather was not really on our side.
Sail Boston is a tradition that welcomes crews and cadets from all over the world to the Boston Harbor. About fifty six sail boats from thirteen different nations had embarked in a long journey to the harbor, but the weather conditions were so bad that their arrival was delayed. Nevertheless, we began setting up our engagement tent in the pavilion of the Charlestown navy yard. We prepared a series of fun family activities, a scavenger hunt, button making(as a prize for completing the scavenger hunt), a relay station , kite making, write a letter to a sailor, message in a bottle, and cork boats.
Throughout the day, I was really interested in seeing how engaging the stations would be, and I tried to keep track of which station worked for what age group. To my surprise, I noticed that our most engaging station was the kite making, followed up by the cork boat making station. Also kids of all ages really engaged with both stations. I believe that the reason why these stations were so popular is that the kids could see, touch and keep their end product. It made me think about how a project might work in a similar way. The story map I am creating, that will share the experiences of the summer connections program, will help the kids leave Thompson Island with an “end product” like the kite or cork boat. They can share this story map with their friends, teachers, and family, and be proud and excited to show off what they learned and where they went. I hope my final project actually accomplishes this goal and I will keep you guys updated on the progress of that! For now I will continue to work on it and learn more and more about base-placed learning.
Rain has many benefits which I appreciate but I don’t specifically enjoy being stuck inside when I work at a national park. Unfortunately, it rained for a couple days here in Virginia during our work hours so we were not able to go out into the field. This wasn’t any ordinary rain, it was what I would call a downpour. The water under the stone bridge in the park had risen more than halfway up the bridge structure and the roads surrounding and in the park looked more like rivers than roads. Even surrounding major roads were blocked off because of flooding and the quarry nearby had waterfalls in it! It was pretty fun going around and seeing parts of the parks and taking photos for records of how high the water gets under the bridge. We even helped maintenance alleviate the flooding around our building and headquarters because the water was pooling near doorways. I’ve never experienced a rain like this with so much of an impact but it was exciting to say the least.
Despite the rain, I still managed to learn a lot. There is a flowerbed in front of headquarters which is next door to our office and the other intern and I were put in charge of designing it and picking what native species we want planted there. It was really interesting to learn about all the species we see in the park that are actually native as we looked up different flowers we had seen around to look into. Once we picked species and designed it we all went to a huge plant nursery and got to pick out and buy all the species we wanted. It was a really fun experience and we are going to plant the garden on Monday so I will share pictures of it next week! Also, I got the chance to look more into my project that is my focus at the park this summer. I will be helping to create and improve a management plan for the Quail species and the grassland habitat they utilize. I spent a lot of time reading through some research papers and past plans and the impacts that have been recorded in the park. I am getting really excited to put together information and create my own plan with the help of our team here.
I got the chance to go pick up my card that will allow me computer access at my park on Friday! My supervisor was out so she let me and one of the other interns go into D.C. to pick it up and then spend the day visiting other national parks in D.C. which was a lot of fun! We went to a lot of the monuments including the Washington Monument and the World War II Memorial. We even went to the Department of Forestry building which has a small museum area you can go see where I got to meet Smokey the bear! Here are a few pictures of me picking up my card, at the monuments, and with Smokey!
Returning, finally, to Rainier, I got my first view of the mountain, and enough snow had melted on our routes for our crew to begin performing butterfly and wildflower surveys. Being a citizen science project, the Cascades Butterfly Project encourages volunteers to help us by participating in our surveys, even if they would prefer tagging along for a hike to catching butterflies. We saw our first volunteers of the season this week, and surveyed 3 of the 5 routes we will be frequenting this summer.
Relatively cold temperatures and cloud cover, combined with the early season state of most of our nectar plants meant that we didn’t identify a large number of butterflies. A boon for us was the wildflowers. In the places that had melted, wildflowers were already flourishing and we found that the temporal patters their blooms follow are as intriguing as the flowers are beautiful.