Education Intern Blog - Fall 2010
Read below for the adventures of Acadia's Fall 2010 Education Interns, Lisa Frank and Sharon Flesch.
Oct. 10-16 – Week 6 (Sharon)
This has been an interesting week because of having only one school program. We had bad weather and some scheduling mix ups so I got to spend a lot of time on the Native American Program I am developing for Grade 2 and maybe a summer program too. I am getting really frustrated because I can't seem to find answers to questions about what is acceptable in the park for a program. I am trying to pick everyone's brain with my ideas and some people act like they really don't have time for me. I plan on getting it in rough draft form in the next two weeks.
I did get to hike a lot which was fun – both the Bubbles and Beech Mountain which was led by Ranger Eleanor who is awesome. I also managed to fall on the Great Head trail while trying to see what the trail was like – thank goodness I had no students with me. I took the Frenchman Bay cruise which was cold but nice. Yesterday before the storm came in I got to bike once more to Eagle Lake on the carriage road and took many pictures of the colors. I am really getting sick of all the rain and wind and I am very cold but soon I will be back in FL.
Lisa and her sister Lena visiting from Germany cooked dinner for us the other night – food was great. I made dump cake for dessert.
Oct. 7, 2010 – Week 5 (Sharon)
It was so nice to have 2 days of nice weather before the rain and wind came in again! I got to observe the 4th grade animal program but won't do it myself until we have a bunch of students next week. We watched Tide Pool School with Ranger Eleanor on Mon. and then helped Michael with a group of mixed ages from the outer islands explore tide pools on Tues. but at a different location. It was very interesting talking to the teachers from the small outer islands. It brought back memories of my experiences in a one room school in Montana.
I had some time to start working on my Native American program outline for Grade 2 (maybe) and found some books in the park library and at the town library.
I had a wonderful trip to Fundy NP and Campobello last weekend although it was lots of driving and cold. The scenery was spectacular and the people in New Brunswick very friendly. I am looking forward to going to Portland and meeting my Boston daughter to go to the Fryeburg Fair this weekend.
Week 5 (Lisa)
After some more program scheduling and rescheduling, I had the chance to lead 2 groups of lively 4th-grade researchers on the Great Head Hiketo explore the peregrines' and beavers' habitats for the Animals of Acadia program. Speaking of habitat, it's high time I tell you more about my habitat here at Acadia National Park.
Starting with FOOD, I am happy to report that I finally had the main Maine delicacy on my plate: lobster. This is especially delicious if prepared by volunteer coordinator and chef deluxe Jonathan, eaten in a homey atmosphere and followed by blueberry cake – a real Maine experience! Another culinary highlight is the Sunday Farmers' Market in Bar Harbor where local farmers sell their lovingly arranged goods – everything from goat cheese to ginger cookies. Speaking of cookies, what would we do without our chocolate animal cookies supply that Ranger Donna provides for us at the office? This week our chocolate animal collection was joined by some freshly imported German gummy bears.
WATER is another very influential part of my habitat here, meaning that either we are on the water or we have water pouring down on us. This week we have had a little bit of both! We were lucky enough to pick a gorgeous sunny day to cruise Frenchman Bay on the impressive 4-masted schooner Margaret Todd. While I am writing this, however, the second storm in a week is whipping heavy rain against the windows.
I am glad to have SHELTER here in our comfy education office "under the bridge" (of the Visitor Center that is). Very convenient, the office is only a short walk through the woods from Hulls Cove House, where I am living for the 2 months I am here in the park. I share this cute house with education intern Sharon, Ranger Sasha, and sometimes we are joined by our friends the deer.
Last but not least, Mount Desert Island provides lots of SPACE to be explored either by foot or by bike. Whereas the town of Bar Harbor gets crowded on cruise ship days, the park offers lots of space to wander around, marvel at the fall colors that are at their peak now, and spot wildlife! For the best impression of MDI's expansive and stupendous views, hike (not drive) up Cadillac Mountain. Having the whole island at my feet made me truly appreciate that habitat at Acadia is a wonderful place!
Sept. 27-Oct. 1 – Week 4 (Sharon)
This was a very interesting week because of the rain. My family came from VT last weekend and we made the best of the weather. We did hiking and biking plus toured the whole island. It was super fun to have them here.
Many of the school programs were canceled due to the weather. I did two Island Life programs for fifth graders with swarming mosquitoes – very distracting when we were outside especially doing the presentation on navigational tools. My home school group was a challenge because of the age differences – 5-13 years old - but they built the best barrel yet! I really like doing the activities inside the museum.
I got to pass my first on-line NPS course with the Eppley Institute, "Foundations of Interpretation", which I have wanted to do for years. I also found someone in the park to play tennis with finally.
Week 4 (Lisa)
It was Island Life at its best this week! Unfortunately, the ever changing island weather made some schools cancel their island experience and we ended up only taking two classes out to Little Cranberry Island. The "tough pioneers" however, were rewarded with a clearing sky that made the perfect setting for teaching them about the navigational tools of early explorers and sailors. In addition, we sent them on a scavenger hunt through the Islesford Museum and tested their barrel making skills. In return they rewarded me with showing me how to tie seaman's knots. So even while teaching, you never stop learning…
True to the motto "there is no bad weather, only wrong clothing" I took advantage of having some free spots in my schedule to learn even more about the park's resources and research. My "Acadia Inside" learning experience covered everything from measuring water quality on Bubble Pond to night bat banding on the Carriage Roads to foggy geologic analyzing at Sargent Pond.
The fall education staff even went back to school yesterday - to Tide Pool School! We found lots of cool critters at Otter Point and explored their habitat and their adaptations to the stressful life in the intertidal zone. Have you ever seen the eyelashes-like feet of a barnacle? And did you know that sea stars have an eye on every one of their arms? It's also worth trying a fresh and salty piece of sea lettuce… It's amazing what you discover when you go down to your knees and have a closer look. Indeed, Shoreline Discovery is the nameof a tide pool program that we gave today on special request for a different kind of group: instead of kids from this island we had kids from the smaller offshore islands come all the way to Acadia National Park for their annual Inter Island Experience.
From now on, however, we'll turn towards the land and the animals' habitat on the Animals of Acadia program. We are ready to take more kids outdoors rain or shine!
Sept. 21-24 – Week 3 – First School Groups (Sharon)
On Tues. we observed the Carriage Road Program with a group of 3rd graders. I took lots of notes while Michael conducted the program, trying to help out as much as possible and learn too. On Wed. Matt, Lisa, and I did the same program for a homeschool group of all ages that was delightful. I did the first part of the program – about the people who built the roads and Lisa did the actual bridge building and the leaf ID. It was fun to do the first one alone and have such an interesting, laid back group. I especially liked interacting with the parents and finding out how they do their homeschool programs. The next day we went on an Island Life program to Little Cranberry Island and shadowed Michael. The fifth graders were very attentive. I enjoyed seeing Linda, a ranger near my age, who I met my first day here who now works at the Islesford Historical Museum. On the way back we stopped at the Granite Museum and I learned everything there is to know about granite. Now I will look at granite different ly!
Sept. 7 - 16 - Weeks 1 and 2 - Training (Sharon)
Hello - I am Sharon from FL. I am a retired teacher and have taught all over the US and abroad. I guess I am one of the oldest interns they have had but I wanted to get experience with school programs to add to my resume for a ranger position with the NPS next summer anywhere they will take me. Last summer I was an interpreter at Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial in OH and enjoyed that. I have always loved the NPS since I lived in Montana for 20 years visiting Glacier and Yellowstone in the off seasons to bike, hike, and X-country ski when there weren't many tourists. Before I came to Acadia this summer I camped and hiked in Rocky Mountain, Glacier, Yellowstone, and Teddy Roosevelt National Parks. In the off-season I work for Mickey at Animal Kingdom in FL as an interpreter of the animals in Asia Attractions.
It is fun to be here because I have family in VT and Boston and friends in CT I can spend time with on the weekends as it is really difficult to find people my age to do things with after hours.
During our training we did numerous trips - cruises and hikes - mostly ranger led which were super. We really got to know the island and it resources. The best was the whale watch where we saw the second largest whale in the world - a finback - 4 of them really close by. The other special event was the Night Sky Festival - I offered to help and became Neptune for the Picnic with the Planets in the park on Friday nite. It was super cold and this is something I am fast getting aware of - nights are like this in Acadia!! Sat. night the other intern, Lisa from Germany, Matt, the seasonal education ranger, and I went on a cruise to observe the stars - a perfectly clear night. It was spectacular!
Weeks 1-3 (Lisa)
Hello and greetings from Acadia National Park! I am Lisa, one of two education interns assisting the education rangers with school programs this fall. I am in my last year at the University of Freiburg, Germany (not Maine) where I am doing a teacher's degree in Geography and English. A field trip to the United States last summer introduced me to the unique national park system and inspired me to explore a national park from behind the scenes and learn more about best-practices in environmental education. So, here I am with the great opportunity to share my love for nature and the outdoors with the local kids that are so lucky to have a beautiful national park in their backyard!
My first 3 weeks have been flying by… Starting this week, I think I can be called "official"! Not only am I now the proud possessor of an American social security number, but I also take pride in wearing the volunteer uniform and being part of the wonderful education team here at Acadia National Park. Even more so, I was very moved when a little girl came up to me and chose me as the PARK RANGER to be interviewed for one of her Junior Ranger assignments.
We have done a lot of park exploring and I am getting more and more a sense of this place. I especially enjoy being on a boat almost every other day, since this is a new experience for me! Not being on a boat for 2 days in a row almost makes me restless… In particular, I remember our first boat cruise that took us all the way to Baker Island because it captured so well the seashore spirit. We set out in a gloomy atmosphere, but by the time we left the island the fog lifted and allowed great views of MDI with its rolling hills (I should call them mountains though!). For me, it's this combination of the mountains and the sea that makes this place so unique and varied! That's also what I answered the little girl when she asked me what I liked most about Acadia National Park.
The mountains and the sea also play an important role in the education programs that started this week. It was an inspiring group of homeschooled kids that were the first ones to become Carriage Road Explorers. We even do a granite cutting demonstration with a block of ice in this program - it's so much fun to do hands-on activities in this beautiful surroundings! So the ice is broken now… It was great to work as a team with the other fall staff on our first program and see how the kids enjoyed their carriage ride experience.
Today I'm navigating into the Island Life program that we'll be giving on Little Cranberry Island next week. I am looking forward to being back on the water again, this time with a crew of kids!