Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Volunteer conducts safety research for Mount Rainier National Park

Some of you who are on our volunteer rolls may be receiving a letter or e-mail from Laura Rickard, asking for your help with a survey about safety issues at Mount Rainier. If you receive such a letter, I encourage you to participate--the survey is not only approved by us, it will provide us with invaluable information to help us identify places where we can improve our ability to work safely with both staff and visitors.

This is a great example of a partnership between a university research program--in this, a graduate research project at Cornell University--and the National Park Service, faciliated by the volunteer program and supported by our close partner, the Student Conservation Association. It's literally a win-win-win situation. Thank you, Laura, for your work on our behalf!

Similar research partnerships have been done in recent years in our biology and geomorphology programs.

Here's the letter Laura sent last week, introducing herself to the park community:

I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to the Mount Rainier National Park community. I am a graduate student at Cornell University working as a Student Conservation Association (SCA) intern at MORA [Mount Rainier] this winter/spring; if I haven’t met you already--either in the last few days, or when I was here in Summer 2009-- I hope to do so soon.

Because you have worked as employees and volunteers at MORA, I believe you have a unique and important perspective to share. Therefore, I’d like to invite you to take part in an online survey about visitor safety. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers to these questions, and your responses will be kept confidential. Your comments will inform my research at Cornell, as well as help to provide NPS with feedback on how to address visitor safety issues in the future.

In the next few weeks, you will be receiving an email invitation to access the survey. You may skip questions that you do not wish to answer, or discontinue participation at any time with no effect. (You can also fill out some questions, and then return to the survey at a later point). I estimate that the survey will take about 20 minutes to complete. Once you finish, you’ll have the option of entering into a drawing for a gift certificate to REI.

Two other parts of my research deserve mention. First, I will be contacting some of you in the next few weeks to ask you to participate in an interview, also relating to safety in the park. Second, you may see me at Paradise or the Carbon River area speaking with visitors, whom I will be recruiting to take a similar online survey.

If you have any questions or comments about any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to interacting with you all in the next few months!

Best wishes,

Laura Rickard
Cornell University

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