|Visitor Center||Flora and Fauna||Landscape||Fossils and Preparation|
|Desk Duties||Trails/ Roving||Field Trips for American History||Resource Management||NPS Recognition Week Presentation|
What is it like to be a part of the National Park Service and wear the NPS uniform?
For some wearing the National Park Service uniform may be a dream come true; the chance for adventure, to embrace the great outdoors, to discover and to share the treasures this nation embodies. For others it may be to live the mission of being the guardian of our national heritages, whether natural, cultural, historical, and recreational or a combination of these. For me the reasons for donning the uniform by partnering with the National Park Service as a Teacher Ranger include them all and the rewards were more than I had imagined. To serve as a Teacher Ranger in partnership with the National Park Service opens doors for experiences and education that inspires a pride and respect for all of those who wear the NPS uniform and serve its mission.
I learned this past summer that it is never too late to serve in this noble profession. I was awarded the opportunity to be a part of the National Park Service, to wear the gray and green, the badge, and the famous Ranger flat hat and live my dream of being a Park Ranger at Fossil Butte National Monument near Kemmerer, Wyoming. With my children grown, and a very understanding and supportive husband, I packed up and left home to move to the high desert plains for eight weeks.
My official duties were such an education and adventure. As a Social Studies teacher, interpreting and socializing with visitors was right up my alley, and it was an amazing place with an amazing story to tell. I worked the information desk, roved the trails visiting with tourists and answering their questions and providing relief with water and first aid, worked with the monument’s resource management program, and provided other interpretive opportunities through “Ask a Ranger”, where I mingled and visited with tourists throughout the visitor center. At the fossil preparation station, I demonstrated the skills and tools used in preparing 50 million- year-old fossil fish for study and exhibit.
The adventures given to me by the staff and community were unexpected and wonderful gifts. Because of my love for American History, I was taken on several field trips by Marcia Fagnant, Fossil Butte’s Lead Interpreter to sites on the Oregon Trail and its cutoffs. She also introduced me to a local trapper, Brad McMillan, who shared the history of the rendezvous system and fur trapping industry along with trips to the Oregon Trail. I represented Fossil Butte National Monument at the annual Kemmerer Fossil Festival. I was invited by the monument superintendent Dave McGinnis to meet local citizens and speak at the Rotary Club luncheon. The staff paleontologist included me on field trips with his geology staff to local sites and to his home on several occasions. The entire staff, from administrative to maintenance and all in-between, were a family that was an honor to become a part of, even for such a short time.
Now I look forward to the school year and to sharing with my students and staff of the Carrollton-Farmers Branch School District my experiences through the Teacher Ranger Teacher Program. In April, I will once again wear the NPS uniform with pride, and promote the love of discovery and exploration of this country’s treasures. I will encourage and foster the responsibility to preserve and protect our heritage. I will forever be grateful to Ms. Fagnant, who hired me, and to Donna Smith from Fort Davis National Historic Site, who forwarded my application to her. This is just the beginning of a new chapter in my personal and professional life. I cannot wait to do it again!