A song that I’ve listened to countless times in the last week is “Connection” by One Republic. It made me think a lot about how interacting and connecting with people may require lots of energy and maybe even more effort for some people than others but in the end it is always worth it. As part of my internship, I have the opportunity to interact with visitors of all ages and backgrounds and this past week was no different. Every time I walk the trails and talk to visitors I see how important the Siuslaw’s recreational opportunities such as hiking are in connecting people with each other and with their environment. This weekend when I observed these interactions and connections the song came back to me and made me appreciate the opportunity to witness people being happy and smiling and spending time with family.
Since late June Karen, the interpretive staff and I have being doing interpretation and outreach programs at Drift Creek Falls Trail and it has been an amazing time! One of my favorite parts of interpretation has been hearing visitor’s stories when I stop to say hello. For example, on Saturday I met a mom who was hiking with her family and wanted to learn about the coastal mountain range. After giving her the gist of this incredible ecosystem we began talking about her love for teaching Spanish and the different countries she’s been to in order to learn the language. I could not believe that we both studied abroad in Spain and visited the same cities. Walking further along the trail I met two Latino families and it was fascinating to see how communicating in Spanish with them allowed the parents to become comfortable and ask questions rather than having their kids interpret for them. Those are the interactions and connections I love the most; when you can relate to someone either through stories about traveling abroad or better yet through a common language that makes the conversation between two people more enjoyable. Creating these connections with visitors makes it easier for a field ranger to connect their audience with the thing they love the most; the natural wonders of Drift Creek Falls Trail! So rather than ‘connecting’ to the internet why not connect with each other through outdoor explorations and begin creating meaningful stories?