If you have been following me for a while, you know I have worked with the National Park Service for a few years now. My goal, years ago, was to work as an Interpretive National Park Ranger, and I have completed that goal in many ways. This year, the summer of 2018, I was able to expand my skills in the field and online through digital media and publications.
At Shenandoah National Park I worked in the field giving programs and working at the Byrd Visitor Center. Two days of the week, I worked at the headquarters area in the “Media Office.” I had the opportunity to create new content for the Park’s social media accounts. I worked with my supervisors and coworkers in designing new signs and interpretive panels. Below are a few of the projects that I worked on.
– Created new campground fees, etiquette, and self-registration signs in an already established theme.
I really enjoyed this project, as Shenandoah National Park(NP) has multiple campgrounds throughout the park. Each is a little different, and there was no theme to the signs that were created with directions for visitors. Most often they have just printed Microsoft Word documents that were taped to the walls. My supervisor had already established some new signs to be posted throughout the campgrounds with themed graphics last winter. With his help and guidance, I used the same theme of graphics and created additional signs.
I learned with this project that sometimes, asking too many people for their opinions or suggestions can make for “too many cooks in the kitchen.” We ended up with a LOT of signs. The goal is this winter, for them to put the signs on a permanent substrate and for the new signs to be permanent!
-Traveled to Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park to take photos of “Inalienable Rights: Free & Enslaved Blacks Crafting Life in The Shenandoah Valley” event.
It was fun to get back into my photography a little bit. I traveled with one of my colleagues to this “new-ish” park and was able to use my photojournalism style to take photos of speakers and attendees to the event. It was cold, smokey, and dark, but I enjoyed every moment of it. Except the part of getting carsick on the way home.
-Created and designed new interpretive panels for the Mobile Visitor Center.
This is probably the project I am the proudest of from the summer. Which is really saying something, because I never have any confidence in the work I do. (Hey, maybe I finally learning to accept my work and myself?!) With help from coworkers we were able to brainstorm new interpretive content for the Mobile Visitor Center. What is really neat is the fact that we can change out and create new panels throughout time, as different interpretations and needs arise. I worked with my supervisor and colleagues on creating content and designing panels for identifying fall leaf colors. I took an idea from my season working at Yellowstone to create the side panels. I wanted something a little bit more interactive but didn’t necessarily have the requirement of speaking to a ranger. Following Yellowstone’s’ “Wildlife Olympics,” I found different adaptions from native animals to Shenandoah NP and related them to what humans can do.
While giving programs, I would take the time to also document through photos different events. As well as work with my supervisor and colleagues to capture new video footage of animals and plants.