Education Intern Blog - Spring 2009
Read below for the adventures of Acadia's Spring 2009 Education Interns, Tori and Cindy.
June 4, 2009. It's over! Can you believe it? Ten weeks ... just like that. Thinking back to the end of March, I was really only comfortable teaching Carroll Homestead. I figured, I was a history major, I can learn this one, but 10 weeks later I think I can stand on my own with any of the rangers, provided the questions don't get too technical with all the programs.
The whole experience was great! From getting to teach students from all over Downeast Maine and Mt. Desert Island to learning new trails to seeing how the Education District operates for the different seasons was exactly what I was looking for—a supportive environment that provided new challenges everyday. Thanks for a great season, Acadia!
June 4, 2009. The end is near! This is my last week as an education intern! A lot has happened in the past ten weeks, and on Friday, all of it comes to an end. I've greatly enjoyed my spring here; I've worked with some amazing rangers, and I've really gotten the chance to participate in something truly awesome. Over the past 10 weeks I've learned some definite life lessons from the people I've worked with:
From Ranger Donna, I've learned that “we can do it!” or at least if there’s enough enthusiasm, things will always work out in the end, one way or another.
From Ranger Michael, I've learned that being on time is a skill, not a trait, and that even if you're late, you can make up for lost time if your legs are long enough!
From Ranger Cynthia, I learned that birthdays are fantastic, but grapefruit cheesecake takes longer to make than originally thought.
From Ranger Kate, I learned that salt water taffy can indeed be a valid distraction during a meeting and that sliding on glacially polished granite can be hazardous to your pants.
And from my fellow intern Cindy, I learned that all of life's issues can be solved with a diet coke, a whoopie pie and a trip in to town for ice cream!
I'm certainly going to miss doing programs, I've always loved working with kids and the classes I got to work with this spring were wonderful. I'm hoping that at some point in the future, I'll get a chance to work with people and kids in a park again. And though this is goodbye from Education, it's not goodbye from Acadia! I am lucky enough to be able to say that I got a position at Seawall Campground for the summer season!! I am looking forward to doing something new, and I get to wear a REAL uniform, and that simple fact alone is enough to make sure this summer absolutely rocks! I'm excited to be doing something new, but I will surely miss Education. See you at Seawall!!
May 29, 2009. Unfortunately rain made for a lot of cancellations this week. Hey—what can you do! We were all ready to hike Great Head and do Fire & Ice but we will have to wait until next week.
We did have GREAT weather over the weekend, so I got to bike the Park Loop Road nice and early on Saturday morning, had popovers and popover a la mode on the lawn at the Jordan Pond House (yummy!), and did lots of exploring around Bar Harbor.
One week left...
May 22, 2009. Another week has gone by, and what a busy week it was! This week I did two Shoreline Discovery programs! For each one we had excellent weather, excellent kids, and some great finds in the tidepools. On Monday, one student found a red-gilled nudibranch, a really awesome-looking sea slug that was white with red "spines" all over its back! The student was very proud of it, making sure that everyone got the chance to see his discovery. On Tuesday, one of the students in my group fell down in the mud flats! He was covered in mud, but that didn’t faze him in the least and by the end of the day I think he had all but forgotten that it even happened! We found almost half a dozen crabs in the tidepools on that day as well!
Another program I did this week was the Carroll Homestead program. I got to do it with Ranger Kate this time, which was awesome because I hadn't gotten to work with her on a program yet. The day was a little bit overcast, and the black flies were out, but there was enough of a breeze every once in a while to keep the bugs from getting too ridiculously horrendous! The kids from Bar Harbor were great and they were super excited about everything. I got to show off my two handed "ball in cup" skills and also managed to stay on the stilts longer than two seconds! I am improving; there's hope for me yet! The cross-cut saw was a big hit, and those kids were really good at making that saw dust fly! I’m pretty sure that they could've cut enough for a whole house…by Christmas!
Today, we had our first Junior Ranger Day of the season! We inducted 36 new third-grade junior rangers! The kids did awesome at teaching each other things about spruce trees, granite, kelp, and sea urchins and a fantastic job at helping out maintenance by picking up trash and fixing up fire rings! We had lots of sun and clear skies! What a great way to end the week!
May 22, 2009. This week we mixed it up! Ellsworth and Bar Harbor came out to Ship Harbor to explore around the tidepools and mudflats. Students found sea urchins, sea stars, sea anemones, periwinkles and their rasping radulas, dogwinkles, limpets, and so many other cool creatures. We learned about what it is like to live in one of the five intertidal zones and how each poses its own stresses for a little creature living off the coast of Maine. The mudflats were slimy and smelly but also proved to be a wonderful environment to learn how many more creatures survive.
We had more Carroll Homestead programs. Getting the swing of making butter from cream—it tastes so yummy!
To round out the week, we inducted 34 new junior rangers from Bar Harbor. The kids did a fantastic job cleaning up the Seawall Picnic Area. We even had a special guest appearance from a maintenance ranger, who stopped by to see if the students needed anything and to thank them for working so hard in the park. The kids were happy to tell about all the trash they found.
Weather has been great and our schedule really allows us to take in a lot of what Acadia has to offer. One of the sunsets this week was one of the prettiest I have seen. Mt. Desert Island continues to impress! Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and so some time to get out on my bike. I will also take in a ranger-led cruise to Little Cranberry Island on Sunday with my parents who are here visiting.
Next week is Fire & Ice and Carroll Homestead. Stay tuned...
May 15, 2009. This week brought sunshine, warmer temperatures, blackflies, and a bunch of school groups out to explore Acadia. Yeah! We went back in time this week, to the Carroll Homestead. Students from both Bar Harbor and Ellsworth explored what it was like to live on the farm. It is really cool when you hear kids, who have lots of conveniences, using their imagination and saying "it would be fun to live in this house." I think the Carrolls would be pleased to see all these young minds so interested in their way of living. A fourth grader from Bar Harbor said it best today...students LOVE to play a traditional ball game called "Hailey Over"; I was saying we are gearing up now to have some fun, meaning starting to play "Hailey Over." He looked at me, deadpan, and said, "we've been having fun all day!" Sweet!
In addition, another group of third graders took part in What do Rangers Do? and prepped for their upcoming Junior Ranger Day. Acadia will be filled with Junior Rangers helping in the park over the next few weeks.
Fingers crossed for more good weather! We hit the tidepools next week. A couple rangers were out there this week with some classes and had a great time! Can't wait...
May 14, 2009. It’s May already! Hard to believe we only have one more month left to go! We haven’t had much downtime to think about that; since May has arrived we’ve been very busy!
We had quite a bit of rain in the beginning of the month, but did that stop us? No! We ran back and forth across Mount Desert Island and even all the way to Ellsworth to do a number of What Do Rangers Do? classroom programs. I can honestly say that I am now a master genius at getting the kids prepped and ready for those skits!! WDRD is great; it would’ve been awesome if they’d had that program at my school when I was in third grade!
The Carroll Homestead program is now in full swing. It takes quite a bit of work, and is pretty complex, but after having observed the program and running it a few times, I’m finally starting to get the hang of things. It’s great that kids come all dressed up and look like little Carroll children! I do my best to look half decent; Ranger Donna says I look like Annie Oakley, in my red-checked dress, braided hair, big straw hat, brown sweater, and brown boots. I never heard a Master Jedi Park Ranger be called Annie Oakley, but I suppose I’ve got to start somewhere!! I think the high collar of the dress helps keep away the black flies, which are just now starting to make an appearance on the homestead. The wind has been blowing enough to make them more tolerable, but I have a feeling when I’m out there next week I had better be covered in bug spray!!
This morning, Ranger Michael and I had the first Shoreline Discovery, a fifth-grade program on the challenges of intertidal life down at Ship Harbor. It was awesome!! This is the program I made the tidal zone teaching props for, and they were a huge success! It feels good to have made something that contributes to a program, and it was great to see that the kids really liked the cards. The weather was beautiful, a little breezy out on the rocks, but that just made it even more real and memorable. My group was pretty good about not getting stuck in the mudflats, but one kid in Michael’s group almost lost both his shoes there! In the tide pools, we found a great variety of things to share: green crabs, limpets, sea anemones, sea stars, sea urchins, scuds, sea slugs, and more. The kids were fantastic and super excited to learn, which made my first time doing this program just excellent! I’m looking forward to doing more of these programs next week!
May 7, 2009. This week saw some excellent field learning out on the Great Head Trail. We test ran Fire & Ice with Ranger Kate. Rocks, volcanoes, shatter zones, and glaciers make great sense when you can bring Geology 101 to life. Outstanding views and possibly the best stop for a picnic I've experienced. Hint: when you get to Mrs. Satterlee's old teahouse look to your right. It is the best natural version of a lounger out there! Watch the gulls; they like to nibble!
We also had a fun, and unexpected, opportunity to slide on glacier polish. I was unsure in the beginning, but it was fun! Amazing how smooth these rocks were and how your pants heated up going down!
Tuesday was a ranger group field trip to Ellsworth for What do Rangers Do? Four third-grade classes back to back, and I now can definitely answer What Do Rangers Do?
Unfortunately, rain canceled some Carroll Homestead programs, but I am ready for next week.
Time away from the office welcomed opportunities to hear a cool band from NYC, grab a yummy BLT and eat some ice cream at local restaurants, and take in a couple of bike rides on the carriage roads.
May 1, 2009. Hello. Greetings from Acadia National Park! I am one of two interns working this spring with the Education District for 10 weeks. Our primary job is to assist the education rangers with school programs. When I applied for this internship I knew a couple of things-I wanted to expand my love of history, I wanted to explore Acadia from behind the scenes, and I wanted to re-establish my interest in teaching. I was committing to being a "student" again and learning all that I could about how the National Park Service works and what different jobs rangers can do. I wanted to learn about the beauty that is Acadia. And boy, so far, so good! My experience so far has just been awesome. We get to meet new people everyday and learn about their career paths. We get to travel out to different schools and learn about different parts of the island. In the morning we can learn about the Carroll Homestead, a subsistence farming family in Southwest Harbor, and in the afternoon we can play around in the tidepools-and this is work! My only complaint is that time is passing too fast!
Tori, my fellow intern, and I are quickly learning and exploring the amazing school programs Acadia offers-What Do Rangers Do?, Carroll Homestead, Shoreline Discovery, Where in the World is Tuzigoot?, and Fire and Ice. Getting an opportunity to ignite excitement with the kids about plants, animals, land, and history is just so cool.
Like I said, everyday is different, which I love. So far we have explored the tidepools of Ship Harbor, got up close and personal where the land meets the sea at Seawall Campground, experienced what life might have been like in 1825 at the Carroll Homestead, and taught third graders about the different kinds of rangers. We also assisted Ranger Donna teaching the Fire and Ice program on the Great Head Trail with students from Isleford, an island off the coast of Bar Harbor that has only 70 year-round residents.
We are gearing up to teach on our own, which will require some more practice, but that is the fun of it! The students are energetic, the teachers are supportive, and the NPS education staff is extremely patient, so getting ready is really exciting.
In addition to being an education intern, there is also the wonderful world of Bar Harbor and Mt. Desert Island to explore. There are yummy places to eat, ice cream galore, cool places to hear live music, and whoopie pies for eating. Bar Harbor has it all. Its size is really its wonder. You can get around town and the island so easily, it is often hard to choose what to do today. Weather changes daily, but it only adds to the beauty.
Stay tuned … we've got a lot of programs coming up, and sun in the forecast!
April 2009. Hello, my name is Tori, and I'm proud to say that I'm an education intern here at Acadia National Park! I'm a 2008 graduate of the University of Maine at Machias with a degree in recreation and tourism management (which is basically a fancy way of saying I've got a degree in fun and games!). I've wanted to be a part of the National Park Service since I was in high school. I mean come on, who doesn't want to wear that uniform! Park rangers are real-life Jedi Masters, superhumans who leap to the rescue, stop evil doers, and share their knowledge throughout the corners of the galaxy…or at least throughout their park.
Being but a young apprentice park ranger, I find it simply amazing that these Master Jedi Rangers can roam freely and easily in those uniforms about the confines of the visitor center basement, where I have my desk. Those uniforms! It's comparable in its simplicity to the robes of the Jedi, a simple but elegant mix of grey and green, topped with the best-looking, most-recognizable hat this side of the Milky Way! How they can walk about so casually? I tell you, even getting my volunteer duds with the insignia of the National Park Service, I was absolutely floored. It was all I could do to accept them with reverence and to keep from squealing like a little school girl. I can hardly think about what I'll do when I get my chance to wear that flat top. I might just keel over from overexcitement. How am I going to keep from checking myself out in a mirror all day?? How you doin'?
While I don't get to wear an official National Park Service uniform just yet, I am happy for now to be able to be in the presence of true greatness. Even though I'm not in green and grey, sometimes that doesn't matter. There are those who, like me, think that anything that comes from the National Park Service is super awesome, including us lowly interns. Even though those I speak to may be only eight years old, every time they call me "Ranger Tori," it totally makes my day.
Because I'm an education intern, I'm lucky enough to get to venture out into the great unknown, to the local elementary schools, armed only with my new knowledge of the program we're offering that day and a box of props. But along with that, I do have Acadia National Park's secret weapon: Ranger Donna. Donna is simply the most enthusiastic Master Jedi Ranger there is. If we were suddenly surrounded by a flaming torrent of hot molten lava on our way to a program, and Donna said "We can do it! We can get around that!" I would believe her whole-heartedly. Nothing beats this woman's willingness and enthusiasm about simply everything around her. As an intern, I view her as a perfect example and role model of everything I think a Master Jedi Ranger should be. While I might still be getting the hang of the Jedi thing, Donna has it down pat. I never have to worry about messing up, 'cause Donna is there to avert any disaster I might inadvertently cause (although I'm sure the kids wouldn't notice if I messed up the order of a Where in the World is Tuzigoot? program…).
So becoming a Master Jedi Ranger is my ultimate goal, and I couldn't ask for a better place to start my journey than Acadia. The rangers are great, the park is beautiful, they've got dill pickle potato chips right next door at the general store, I get to be outdoors on a regular basis, and I get to share my knowledge with a ton of little kids who actually want to hear it!
Needless to say I'm looking forward to this spring, and while the Master Jedi Rangers may have no idea that I'm watching them and sucking up everything like an impressionable three-year-old, I can report that they are making a most excellent impression indeed, as I would expect from any self respecting superhuman Jedi.
April 30, 2009. And the journey continues! I've really come to love learning about and doing school programs. My Jedi skills are improving; already I feel that I've made an improvement in my presentation skills, and my general knowledge is definitely growing. I just recently finished a big chunk of a project I took on early in the month-a set of illustrated tide zone cards that will be scanned, copied, and laminated. There was a set of teaching aid cards, but they were falling apart and were one of a kind. Having a little bit of artistic skill, I volunteered to draw up and paint a new set that could be scanned and saved so that more could be made if necessary. I wouldn't say that I have mad crazy skills-I am no master artist-but I figured that this was something that I could do reasonably well that would work as part of the Shoreline Discovery program we offer. So right off, I sketched up a draft on some yellow paper I found, and from there, went to Bristol and ink. Throughout this month, when I had some extra time, I did a little bit more work here and there on it.
Today we had some prep time, so Donna and I went down to Ship Harbor to do a bit of scouting for slow-moving tidepool creatures (sea anemones and the like) for our fifth-grade Shoreline Discovery program. Ship Harbor is a great trail, absolutely fantastic, you couldn't have asked for a better place to be on such a great day! The water was calm and a brilliant blue, and the tide was a very low one. On the way down to the tidepools, we saw a bunch of bufflehead ducks and various types of gulls. I've never been very good at identifying gulls before; to me, they've all been "Sea Gulls." Apparently I was wrong! We got down to the tidepools and had an awesome time! Now I've been tidepooling before (I grew up in South Portland, so the ocean was always pretty close) but tidepooling with Donna was something else all together. Donna is out there on those slippery, rockweed-covered rocks, all but lying down on the stuff to get a better look at what might be living in a tiny little pool of water in the crack of some rocks. Now I have no such Jedi skills that allow me to walk on seaweed-covered rock and not fall and bust my head open. I did my best, but Donna is a "Rockweed Ranger," stepping nimbly from one slimy, slippery rock to another. And we found a TON of stuff! Sea stars, sea urchins, a variety of kelp and Irish moss, limpets, nudibranchs (sea slugs), horse mussels, sea anemones, and even something we believe is a type of sea squirt. And of course now that I'm there seeing things that I've just finished painting, I realize that many of the creatures I've painted are actually a different color entirely than the one I gave them…but at least they haven't been scanned yet so I still have time to fix it! On the way back from Ship Harbor, we saw a deer in the middle of the road, which was awesome because Donna just got through saying that this will be the day she sees a deer on the Crooked Road, because she never had.
Now back at the Environmental Education Jedi Headquarters, I'm about to go find another project to leap into, which is looking like it might be a bit of toy repair for the fourth-grade Carroll Homestead program that starts next week.