My summer at Mesa Verde is now complete; it was my 5th season at Mesa Verde National Park and my 9th season since 2011 with the National Park Service. I learned a lot this season about my leadership skills, my idea of professionalism, and more. Like last summer, it was still a weird feeling to be “looked to for answers” and support. As I am beginning to be in the group of my coworkers who have “been around for a while”. When in those situations I did my best to be supportive, understanding, and helpful. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed that a lot. I look forward to learning more about these different aspects of my career in the future.
Understanding, being supportive, and patience will be something we all need in the future of our outdoor spaces.
The popularity of Public Lands continues to grow, and with visitation increasing they are struggling. We are seeing a whole new dynamic of people visiting our public lands. There are not people who grew up going to these places, or have friends who go to these places. These are people who seen the benefits and beauty of outdoor lands and want to experience those places themselves. It’s a new place and experience, and just like when visiting foreign lands, there are new rules, ethics, and understandings to learn.
It’s easy to get frustrated with people. Even as a ranger, it’s just like any customer service job, it it’s harder and harder to give quality customer service when you continually feel like you must explain things that you think are self-explanatory.
However we must remember that just like how I may not know the proper way to ride a subway in New York, or how to order food in Italy; they may not know how to visit our public lands. The National Park Service has learned that one of the best ways to gain stewardship is through education. Teaching an understanding of the land and our effects on the land creates an appreciation for the land.
Whether in person or online, try to spread an understanding of why we treat our public lands the way we do. Remember to be kind, through-provoking, and willing to discuss ideas. I’ve read so many articles about how social media and the internet are ruining the parks. I think instead, we should use it as a way to share and educate people about our public lands. To educate our new community members as why we visit the way we do to welcome these people and encourage a love for our public lands.
Let’s #SpreadLoveForTheParks together, in a positive, encouraging manner.