Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Please RSVP! 2010 Winter Interpretive and Operations Training

West District Interpreter Lee Snook has just released this agenda for Winter Operations Training, to be held on December 10 beginning at Longmire. If anyone is interested in helping out with our winter interpretive program--helping in the visitor centers, assisting with snowshoe walks, roving by snowshoe near the visitor center or parking lots at Paradise to assist visitors--this training is highly recommended and useful. Please RSVP as soon as possible to Lee by e-mail or by calling 360-569-6043.

2010 Winter Interpretive and Operations Training
Friday, December 10, 2010
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Sessions will be held at: Longmire Community Building, Longmire Maintenance Area, Paradise Jackson Visitor Center and the Nisqually Vista Trail. The 8:30 a.m. session is for those who will be traveling in the interpretive van during the winter. Feel free to start your day with the session beginning at 10:00 a.m. if the first session does not apply to you. Please bring your own mug or water bottle for drinks. Coffee and tea provided.

8:15 a.m. - 8:25 a.m.: Gather at Longmire Museum

8:25 a.m.: Walk to Auto Shop

8:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.: Winter Driving - Interp Van
Auto Shop area Facilitators: Brandon Lipke, Lee Snook, Curt Jacquot
Topics: Van use, safety equipment, winter driving tips, How-to chain use
This session is primarily for those who will be traveling from Longmire to Paradise in the interpretive van. If this session does not apply to you, feel free to start your day with the next session at 10 a.m.

10:00 – 11:15 a.m. Winter Road Operation.
Community Building Facilitators: Curt Jacquot, LE, Lee Snook, Brandon Lipke
Topics: training notebooks, safety, snow plow operations, road restrictions, administrative travel procedures, gate opening- closing, communications with LE staff, Longmire to Paradise day and overnight parking, common issues, radio use, Q and A.

11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Lunch at Community Building (soup will be available, feel free to bring your own lunch). Tables and microwave are available at the Community Building.

11:45 - 12:45 Paradise Area Operations
Community Building Facilitators: Curt, Lee, LE
Topics: logistics, communication, snow play area rules, winter camping, Paradise parking, snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding trail reports, common winter issues, habituated wildlife issues, compressed air availability, Q and A.

12:45-1:30 Travel to Paradise
Please be sure to have chains. They may be required to travel to Paradise.

1:30 – 4:00 Guided Walk
Jackson Visitor Center Front Desk Facilitators: Lee, Curt Jaquot
A guided walk on the Nisqually Vista Trail, snow permitting, using snowshoes.

4:00 – 4:10 Wrap-up at the end of snowshoe walk.

4:10 – 5:00 Travel safely to Longmire.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tales of a Campground Host

Phill Vanderschaegen, this summer's Campground Host at Ohanapecosh, has put together a nice web page about his experiences there, which makes a great introduction to what it's like to be a volunteer (and specifically a campground host) at Mount Rainier National Park. Check it out!

Former Rainier campground hosts honored at Yosemite

During the 2004 and 2005 seasons, George and Charlotte O'Hare served as Campgrounds Hosts here at Mount Rainier National Park. They've since moved on to other jobs in other places, but, judging by the word received today from Yosemite National Park, they've continued to excel! This from a press release issued today:

Yosemite National Park Volunteers Recognized at the
First Annual Yosemite Volunteer Awards Ceremony

The first annual Yosemite Volunteer Awards ceremony took place in September of this year. The ceremony was held to recognize outstanding volunteers who have donated their time, talent, and skills to help improve park facilities.... The recipients of the first annual Yosemite Volunteer Awards are:

Individual Volunteer:
George and Charlotte O'Hare have been volunteering at Yosemite, as well as other national and state parks for many years. In Yosemite National Park they have worked for the Interpretation Division at Glacier Point, for the Visitor Protection Division at Badger Pass, and as Campground Hosts at Tuolumne Meadows Campgrounds. In all their work they have shared their constant enthusiasm and vast knowledge of the park to enhance the experience of countless park visitors.....

Special Award Presentation of Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award (for 4,000+ hours):
The Presidential Service Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented to volunteers who have accumulated over 4,000 hours of service. Each recipient received a letter of commendation from President Barack Obama, a certificate of achievement, and a Lifetime Service pin. This year, five volunteers were given this award during the Yosemite Volunteer Awards ceremony [including] Charlotte O’Hare [and] George O’Hare

Congratulations, Charlotte and George!

Update: Superintendent Dave Uberuaga, who served as Acting Superintendent at Yosemite for a time, says "they asked me to say hello to MORA folks. I did see them a few times. She bakes cookies and other great items for the staff & is like a House Mother to many seasonal folks. I saw them the first weekend I was in the park." So, Hello everyone from the O'Hares!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Meadow Rover Updates and new correspondence e-mail address

Hello Meadow/Snow Rovers!
From: Curt Jacquot, West District Area Ranger and New Meadow/Snow Rover Supervisor

Recent Happenings
I am writing to update you on the Meadow/Snow Rover program and happenings at Paradise.  Fall colors have faded and Winter is close at hand (or is it here?).  Several feet of snow fell at Paradise in the last few weeks.  The foxes are still making rounds and some people are beginning to carry skis up to enjoy the Muir snowfield. The "Stay off the Meadow" signs and rope-pole barriers have been removed for the season.  Several park roads have also closed for the season.

As some of you may have heard I have been hired on a permanent basis as the West District Area Ranger. I am also the Meadow/Snow Rover supervisor. I am still catching up on the changes that took place last summer, but I hope to continue the momentum in the meadow rover program that was started by Erin Whittaker and Lee Snook. One of the ways we plan to do that is by having an email strictly for Meadow/Snow rovers. All questions, concerns, comments about Meadow/Snow Roving should now go to:


Kevin Bacher (Volunteer Program Manager), Lee Snook (West District Interpretive Supervisor), and I (Curt Jacquot) will check the inbox at MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov .

What Volunteers are Needed for in late Fall and Winter
Even with a couple of feet of snow, the meadow is not protected when people venture off trail. Meadow rovers are definitely needed in late fall!  Rovers can assist by greeting people at the Skyline trailhead and discussing fragile plants and the importance of staying on deep snow and not on the vegetation. Many people will have questions about the snow play area and why it is not open yet. We need to explain the need for deeper snow and grooming the run before the snow play area can open as planned on December 18th. Rovers can also talk with visitors about the avalanche forecast and "Keeping Wildlife Wild."   Once we start leading snowshoe walks on December 18th, Meadow/Snow rover volunteers can assist by taking the "sweep end" of the groups so no one falls behind.  Other things volunteers might assist with:  Trail updates. What condition are they in? Is a trail completely snow covered, or just partially? Has a trail been wanded/marked? Once the trails are wanded/marked Snow Rovers can help reset the poles if they start to get buried or fall over. If you prefer to be inside it is possible to rove the visitor center giving directions or answering questions about the exhibits.

Winter Interpretive Training Open to Volunteers
On December 10th we will have Winter Interpretive training at the Longmire Community building from 8:30 AM through 5:00 PM. The training will cover Winter park operations, safety, and Winter interpretive programs. In the afternoon we are planning an example guided interpretive walk at Paradise. Please RSVP for the training by emailing or calling West District Interpreter Lee Snook (lee_snook@nps.gov , (360) 569-6043).

Who to Contact:
If you are planning to come up to volunteer it is helpful for us to know when you are coming.  If you could email me at the new Meadow Rover email address (MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov) to let me know in advance I can be sure to save room in the van if you would like to ride up with staff. The Van will leave from the Museum on weekends and holidays at 9:15 a.m. If you wish to use the volunteer apartment at Tahoma Woods please confirm your duties with Lee Snook or I via the Meadow Rover email and let us know you would like to use the apartment. Lee or I will check to see if the Tahoma Woods VIP apartment is available on the date(s) you need it.  If you are coming up to volunteer during the week, you can check out a radio at the Longmire Museum (if you have been trained on park radio use). The Museum is open from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM daily.

If you have questions about volunteering at Paradise or Longmire, please contact Lee Snook or I via the Meadow Rover email. If time is short and you want a quick response don't hesitate to call us. My days off are usually Thursday and Friday and Lee is off primarily on Sunday and Monday. If you have questions about the overall volunteer or outreach programs, please contact Kevin Bacher at kevin_bacher@nps.gov  or (360) 569-2211 extrension 3385.

Once again, contact information:
The best place to send email regarding the Meadow/Snow Rover program:
Meadow Rover email: MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov

Curt Jacquot: curt_jacquot@nps.gov, phone: (360) 569-6426
Lee Snook: email: lee_snook@nps.gov, phone: (360) 569-6043
Kevin Bacher: kevin_bacher@nps.gov, phone: (360) 569-2211 extension 3385
Longmire Museum: (360) 569-2211 extension 3314
Paradise Jackson Visitor Center: (360) 569-6036

Thanks for being a Meadow/Snow rover! As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Curt Jacquot
Park Ranger - Interpretation, Meadow/Snow Rover Supervisor
Mount Rainier National Park
55210 238th Ave East
Ashford, WA 98304
(360) 569-2211, Extension 6426

Friday, November 5, 2010

Best wishes to Evan Escamilla

IMG_1855If you had any interaction with our volunteer program this summer, you almost certainly crossed paths with our volunteer coordinator intern, Evan Escamilla. Evan came to us through the Student Conservation Association in early May from Western Michigan University, and for six months served as my right hand man, answering volunteer correspondence, processing paperwork, and visiting volunteer groups in the field to welcome them to the park and thank them for their service. In many cases, he organized groups from start to finish, helping them establish the contacts they needed with park supervisors, arranging their overnight stays in the Longmire Volunteer Campground, and coordinating other logistics.

Anyone who worked with him will tell you that Evan is extremely good at what he does. He's a quick learner, highly capable, friendly and outgoing, and has an attitude of calm competence that puts everyone at ease. He was the perfect intern for an extremely busy summer in which my time was constantly pulled in other directions to deal with budget issues, various administrative "fires," and the other half of my job, managing the park's outreach program, including our highly successful but intensely time consuming CAMP program. It's good to work with someone you can trust to take a task with minimal background information, run with it, and produce positive results. Look at our numbers for this year! Even more important, listen to the feedback from volunteers and supervisors, who were universally appreciative of Evan's efforts.

Alas, it is the nature of internships and a seasonal workforce that eventually November arrives and their time is up. Evan wrapped up his job this week, turned in his keys, and checked out of his housing, departing for points unknown. He has several options, including another internship here in Washington or job prospects in Michigan or Colorado. He may return to college to pursue a graduate degree. Whichever door opens for him, I have no doubt that he'll excel in whatever he does next.

And I hope he comes back to visit. He's made a lot of friends here at Mount Rainier, and in the community of volunteers and employees that orbit the park, not least of which is me. It was a pleasure to work with Evan, as a supervisor, colleague, and friend, and I wish him well.

P.S. I just received this link to an article Evan wrote about his experience this summer for the SCA website. It's a great story!