George Perkins Marsh Interns through the SCA are rising college freshman. They participate in a career exploration journey by participating in leadership development training as well as through completion of work projects in each park division. (Summer 2011 - previous posts)
Looking in on the VYCC Crew
The Faulkner Trail has been a part of Woodstock for more than 80 years. The trail and the connecting park were originally designed to allow for people with medical conditions such as heart problems or arthritis to still get out and exercise. Today it is used by everyone as a park and another way to get to the summit of Mt. Tom. Over the 80 years since its creation however, the trails show just how much it's used.
That's where the Roving Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) crew came in. They are spending time working on many projects to get these trails back to perfect shape. On August 8th we interns joined them with their efforts to rebuild the stone culverts that have been beaten up over the years. Today was probably one of my favorite work days because this is the kind of thing that I enjoy. Working with my hands to solve complex problems. Working rocks every which way to make them fit together. I definitely learned a great deal today about building stable stone culverts, making water bars, and way more about working in a team and the communication that goes along with the work. While I don't think that we will be working with them again, I cannot wait to see their final product. Keep up the good work VYCC!
- Evan Newberry
Interns explore a local state park
Field trip to Silver Lake State Park
Today we went to Silver Lake State Park. Silver Lake is one of the 54 state parks located in Vermont. We went with Scott, a lead ranger at the National Park, who worked at Silver Lake as the manager in 2004. He explained to us how when he was manager, there were six employees doing all the work at the park. Their responsibilities were the same as the nine workers that work there now. Silver Lake also had more responsibilities daily than we do and we are more heavily staffed than them. This surprised me and it made me appreciate my work responsibilities more, especially the fact that we don't have to clean toilets!
I learned that there are some characteristics that the National Park and State Park share but there are also some that make them different. For example, Silver Lake focuses more on recreation and enjoyment whereas Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP focuses more on conservation and preservation and a little recreation. The National Park also gets a lot of its funding from the federal government and the State Park uses most of their profits from recreation and concession fees for funding and gets a little funding from the state. I think that is because there are less funds coming from the state than the federal government. We also were able to test out the recreation opportunities they have. We took a swim in the lake and it was fun and enjoyable for a hot day.
- Nashaiyaa Davis
Interns enjoyed hearing stories from the sheep shearer.
Sheep Shearing & Stories
As part of our SCA experience, we are supposed to learn about how the SCA works, how AmeriCorps works, and how they relate to national and state parks. One of the goals is for us to learn what different types of jobs are available through the park service. To explore more jobs than just the ones in this park, we are going on several "field trips" to two state parks (Calvin Coolidge and Silver Lake) and a nationalhistoric site (St. Gaudens). We went on a tour of the Calvin Coolige site and birthplace in Plymouth to learn about the history and significance, but also to learn how the park is managed, where their funding comes from, how it's maintained and historically preserved, and what they hope to offer the public.
My favorite parts of the visit were the anecdotes and stories about President Coolidge's father, the pranks he was involved in as a child, and some stories an old sheep shearer told us as he did a demonstration. Some of the stories really seemed like "old Vermonter" stories, and the humor and wit were what added the other dimension from just any tour of a historic site. One of the funniest stories was about a 300lb cannon that lived in a barn and was only used for ceremonial purposes, but there were a group of boys who lived at the bottom of the hill and they had a rivalry with the boys at the top of the hill where the cannon was, so they would steal the cannon back and forth, which is no small task because they have to drag a 300lb bulky cannon. After a few times, the boys from the top of the hill rigged the barn where the cannon stayed with trapdoors. They knew where the trapdoors were, but if anyone tried to sneak in to steal the cannon, they wouldn't know where to step, and if they misstepped, they would be deposited in the pile of cow manure the next story down. The sheep shearer had some great stories and a clear Vermont accent. He told us that once somebody asked him to drive out two hours to shear his two sheep and he refused initially, saying that the cost of driving out wasn't worth the amount he'd get paid for 2, or even 10 sheep, but the owner insisted he would get paid well. He drove up, sheared the two sheep, and the man paid him 100 dollars. He asked, "what's the catch? why 100 dollars for me to drive all the way up here to shear your two sheep?" and the owner replied that he tried to shear his own sheep the year before, but it had taken him over eight hours, and the relief ofnot having to do it himself was worth the money.
The church that is part of Plymouth Notch is owned by a private organization, because the state owns the rest of the historical town, but the state is not allowed to own a church that is still active, andthere is still a small congregation and the occasional wedding held there. The church is beautiful, and the Coolidge pew is labeled with a small plaque.
- Rachel Allen
Saint-Gaudens Field Trip
The four of us interns spent the afternoon at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. This site is dedicated to the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He was a very well-known sculptor during his time, creating such works as the Shaw Memorial, the Puritan, and the Adams memorial. The property was a part of the Cornish colony, a community where artists lived together.
I personally found this site very different from Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, but still just as important. The property was much smaller than our Park, but the rangers still make it feel huge, busy, and important. The land is covered with Saint-Gaudens' work; if it's not the original then it's probably one of his models. I found this amazing since here at the Park; nothing can be touched and is all inside to be preserved. At Saint-Gaudens, a great deal of the work is outside there, exposed to the elements. I think the rangers there do a very good job of keeping the visitors interested, even though the property is small. The house is very beautiful, and the gardens surrounding it adds to its beauty. I was a little disappointed by the tour, our tour guide Kelly did a very good job and it was a very informative tour, but I would have liked for it to be longer. Getting the chance to enter his workshop was truly amazing. He set the place up to actually be a show room as well as a studio. He was clearly a clever man as is evident by all his works, and I'm ashamed to say that I did not know who he was before I arrived. I had never heard of Augustus before, but the Site and its employees did a wonderful job at showing me how important he was, and what the Site means to our history as Americans. I look forward to returning to Saint-Gaudens again and checking out all the locations and art that I missed, and to gain an even greater knowledge about this great man who did so much for our country.
- Evan Newberry
Rolling Down the River
Today the four of us helped out with the Mountains and Rivers Forever camp. We helped the kids learn about orienteering so that they could navigate with a compass. I found it enjoyable as I haven't orienteered since I did the camp a number of years ago, and I was very rusty. We broke off into groups and set off with compass in hand. After a long morning of bushwhacking up Mt. Tom, we reached the Pogue. My group was the first ones there so we waited for everyone else to arrive and share stories of the morning's adventures. After a nice lunch overlooking the pogue and enjoying the company of the campers, we headed back down to the Forest Center to pick up the tubes for a river float. I had spent several hours the previous day inflating those tubes, which was no easy feat. Unlike the rest of the interns, I did not take part in floating down the river. Instead, I hiked alongside them on the shore, with an extra tube strapped to my backpack. I must have looked completely ridiculous. I found this hike a great was to get another look about a rivers ecosystem. I saw just how many animals used the river, evident by all the tracks, and how necessary this water source is for every living thing. This experience really opened my eyes to the ecosystem most of us take for granted. This was something you cannot learn in school or in a book, it needs to be experienced. I think that children near these river ecosystems should actually visit these areas and study it, getting them out of the classroom. The entire day was very enjoyable, and I look forward to working with the public more in the future.
- Evan Newberry
Interns learn the correct way to plant a tree from the park horticulturist.
Learning the Ropes
One of the things that makes MBRNHP such an unique place is the level of comfort any visitor can experience, whether they're coming for their first time or their 100th. I'm really thankful to have a job in such a good environment, and I can tell, even from the first few days that I'm going to be as comfortable working here as I was when I visited.
In my first week at the park, we learned the ropes around here. I learned about places and jobs I never even knew existed. There are so many different levels of jobs to do, it's not just about the grounds or the tours, it's about being welcoming and the experience as a whole. There are people here who coordinate everything, people who execute the important tasks, and people who seem to do it all. Yet, through all the planning and impressive government presence here, the park still has a nice feel to it. It's maintained, but not to the point of tourist perfection. The mansion is preserved, but still open for tours and viewings. There is a very interesting balance between federal business and what could be a small town wilderness park, and it flows together well. I love being at the park on days like today when I can be working outside.
One of the jobs we do is "rove" which entails walking the carriage trails, greeting visitors, and helping with directions. Being in Vermont in the summer is beautiful! We've also been training to work the Billings Farm desk and acting as mansion stewards. The rangers here are great about training us first by example, and then letting us try it under supervision and then again unsupervised.
- Rachel Allen
NPS Director Jarvis with George Perkins Marsh Intern
All park employees recently had the opportunity to meet with NPS Director Jon Jarvis and Deputy Director Mickey Fearn. Interns listened to comments from the Directors, and then engaged in dialogue with them. It was meaningful and inspirational. These are some reflections from one of the George Perkins Marsh Conservation Interns who traveled from his home in Boston to participate in this internship this summer.
"As young black men living in the urban community it's hard to think outside the box. We don't know any other place to go than the community we live in." Mickey Fearn The Deputy Director of the National Park Service
I agree with Mickey because I myself live in the urban community. I will have no idea of what I can find and see if never try to look outside the box. Living in the city, I have no reason to be thinking about anything else because some people are so crumbled in one place that they can't even get themselves out of it. I feel like if there was more opportunities in the city maybe kids would think outside the box like I did. I never really pictured that one day I would be an intern with the National Park Service. When the opportunity came to me I was happy to finally get outside of my comfort zone and go to a strange place and explore the nature that I wasn't able to see in my community. I wish more kids in urban communities would have a chance to experience what I am experiencing at the National Park Service.
- Monty Bembeleza