Bringing the Interns Together

After making their way here from states across the entire country, all of our summer interns have arrived in Siuslaw National Forest. Once everyone landed in Oregon, it was time for our Siuslaw Field Ranger Training! Tuesday and Friday were split exploring the areas where each of us will be stationed over our summer here, whether it be to run programs, lead guided hikes tours, or engage in public outreach.

Cape Perpetua was the first stop on Tuesday. All of the interns who had not yet had a chance to visit got the opportunity to explore the visitor’s center, as well as meet the staff and volunteers.  After a brief introduction and some information on the Field Ranger Program, we met with Vicki Penwell, the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center Director. One of our Volunteer Hosts, Jim Nechols, gave a presentation on invasive species, so we could familiarize ourselves with some of the species we will come to know very well during our project work. After a special address from the Forest Service, we moved down to the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area for the rest of the afternoon. The topic of the presentation here was, ‘Secrets of the Oregon Dunes,’ by Dina Pavlis, one of the members of the Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative. She took us on a guided hike, sharing her knowledge of dunes, the plant and animal species, along with some of the geomorphologic processes that formed the dunes.

On Friday, we spent the morning traveling the dunes with Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation (OHV) Team. Our time was spent learning program management alongside the OHV Coordinator, Samantha Solomon. With her team, we made site visits to the campgrounds, staging areas, and recreation sites. The OHV Crew has a lot of area to cover, so we will be helping them out in the future by informing people about the OHV regulations and tips for safe camping. We kept to the sand for the afternoon, but later switched our focus to the topic of Plover Habitat and Protection Efforts. Wildlife Biologist, Cindy Burns, and her staff at the Siltcoos Recreation Corridor gave us a “Plover 101” overview. Afterwards, they took us to the beach to specify where the restricted area of the beach begins for the plover nesting habitat. This is likely where we will be doing a majority of our public engagement and outreach aimed towards spreading Western Snowy Plover awareness. Education plays such a large role in every area of the Forest Service. Our job as the interns will be to communicate with the visitors throughout the summer, informing them about what we will learn from each of these specialists over the two weeks of training. They can learn what resources we offer that allow the public to become more involved with The Siuslaw.

On the days that we did not have the training, we were separated into teams to help out on various field trips. My team headed north to Mary’s Peak to assist the Mary’s Peak Alliance with their field trip for the 8th graders from Corvallis. These middle school students were separated into small groups, and each group would get presentations from different members of the Alliance on a variety of topics related to Mary’s Peak. We met botanists, ecologists, geologists, hydrologists, and historians who told us the history of the peak and what is in store for its future. On this field trip, I did not act as the educator, but as a guide for the student groups. We were there to not only facilitate the children’s learning experience but also to engage with the materials ourselves. It allowed for a chance to step back and learn from these presenters, as if we were students again.

Taking on this new perspective made the trip different from any we had been involved in so far. Most of the information was so new to all of us so learning alongside the students was a fun experience. I look forward to this next week, which will be spent learning as the Field Ranger Training continues! Our week is packed full of new places to visit and specialists to meet, all in preparation for the summer of adventure that awaits. It’s time to get ready for the week! I hope you look forward to learning with me as I share my experiences here.

Yselia Cortez
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