Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Secretary Sally Jewell: From Rainier to the State of the Union

Secretary Jewell volunteers with the Northwest
Youth Corps at Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.
Photo by Matt Christenson/BLM Oregon.
Watching the President's State of the Union address last night, it was fun to see a familiar face sitting in the front row in the audience: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. Hers is a familiar face to Mount Rainier's volunteer and outreach programs for several reasons. For one thing, she's the only Secretary ever to have climbed Mount Rainier seven times! Admittedly, that's a high standard. But prior to becoming the Secretary of the Interior last spring, Jewell was a long-time Seattle resident and CEO of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) headquartered there. Under her leadership, the business found many ways to support the park. REI employees have volunteered repeatedly, usually helping with trail maintenance projects. The company awarded a $20,000 grant to the Washington Trails Association, which helped maintain a partnership to engage volunteers in trail work at the park. When our outreach program created a program called "Camping Adventures with My Parents" (CAMP), REI donated some equipment items and rented others at discount rates. After the 2006 flood that devastated roads, trails, and campgrounds throughout Mount Rainier, local stores encouraged shoppers to donate to our recovery effort, and Jewell herself visited the park and pulled on work gloves to lend a hand. Jewell's son Peter also served as a volunteer climbing ranger at Mount Rainier for several years.

In her role as Secretary of the Interior, Jewell has championed youth engagement and volunteerism, and continues to lead by example, putting on the hard hat and working alongside crews at every opportunity. Who knows--someday we might talk her into returning to her old climbing grounds and working with us on, say, National Public Lands Day!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Geology Interns have compiled an impressive bibliography of research

Nisqually Glacier Survey, 2011
While researching last week's blog entry about internship opportunities at Mount Rainier, I discovered that the National Park Service has posted an impressive bibliography of research products created over the years by our Geologist-in-Parks interns. The list is searchable by topic or by park. Here's the list for Mount Rainier National Park. You can see right away what an asset this program has been for us over the years, and how much these interns have contributed to our understanding of this dynamic landscape, and to our ability to communicate that knowledge to the public. Happy reading!

2013, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
2012, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
2011, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
2010, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Carbon River Topography Study
2006, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
2005, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Friday, January 24, 2014

Internship positions NOW OPEN at Mount Rainier!

A wide range of internships are now
awaiting your application!
Every year, Mount Rainier National Park hires several interns for spring and summer positions ranging from wilderness patrol to interpretation to research and volunteer program management. These positions offer excellent opportunities for young people to get a foot in the door with the National Park Service (or other conservation agencies). Many of our job announcements for the summer have gone "live" just in the last week, so now is the time to apply! Here's what's currently posted:

Student Conservation Association (SCA)
Mount Rainier has worked with SCA almost as long as the organization has existed. In addition to Community Crews recruited from high schools in Seattle and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, we typically hire about half a dozen individuals to serve in positions lasting anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks. The following four positions are currently listed on SCA's website, and more may be posted later:
 Geologic Society of America (GSA)
"Geoscientists in Parks" have worked at Mount Rainier for years, and a few have gone on to seasonal and permanent positions in the National Park Service. "GIPs" may work in the field of interpretation and education, educating the public about geology, or may serve with our natural resources program, conducting research. Positions are open to geology students at the university level, and are due February 18, 2014. Visit GSA's website for details about the program, to apply, and to find out about these positions:
All positions are subject to change depending on available funding.

Washington Conservation Corps (WCC)
Mount Rainier typically works with at least one crew from WCC each summer to help with trail maintenance projects. Other crews serve at other national parks and forests throughout Washington state, so this is a great option for young men and women age 18 to 25 who want to get outdoors and get hands-on experience in the field. Visit WCC's website for more information.
Youth Conservation Corps (YCC)
YCC is a program that hires high school students from communities around national parks for 8-10 week summer positions. Mount Rainier typically hires about half a dozen such students in March or April, for positions starting in late June or early July. For more information, visit YCC's website or contact our human resources office at 360-569-6522.

University programs
Additional internships may be available through universities. We've hired students from The Evergreen State College, Western Washington University, the University of Washington, and Oregon State University just in the last few years. The details vary, but usually involve an agreement between the university and the national park to provide college credit in return for service and on-the-job training. In other cases, graduate students arrange to do research that benefits both their own studies and the resource management needs of the park. Talk to your college adviser, or the supervisor of the program you're interested in here at Mount Rainier National Park, about the possibilities.

Whatever you're interested in, get started now... and good luck!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Secretary Jewell Announces $1 Million Private Funding Commitment to Advance Youth & Conservation Initiative

(January 8, 2014) WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of an ambitious initiative to engage and employ the next generation through America’s great outdoors, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced a public-private partnership with American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. that will help reach Interior’s goal of providing 100,000 work and training opportunities to young people and veterans on public lands.

American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (AEO) announced an historic $1 million commitment to develop the next generation of outdoor stewards. The funding commitment is the first in AEO’s philanthropic history and is also the first pledge toward Jewell’s target of raising $20 million from private partners by 2017 to support the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC).

The 21CSC, launched by the Obama Administration as part of the America’s Great Outdoors program, is a national collaborative effort to put America’s youth and veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s natural and cultural resources.

Jewell made the announcement today at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C., in recognition of the Civilian Conservation Corps that President Roosevelt created over 80 years ago.

“What we’re doing today embodies the spirit of President Roosevelt’s CCC – coming together to put young people and veterans to work on our public lands which will instill a lifelong conservation ethic that not only benefits them, but our public lands and our country,” said Secretary Jewell. “American Eagle Outfitters has a long history of philanthropy, conservation and volunteerism and I applaud them for this unprecedented commitment to the youth initiative. This lays a strong foundation toward reaching our goal to provide positive experiences for young people and veterans on our public lands that offer both employment and meaningful connections to the outdoors.”

The $1 million dollars will directly support non-profit corps programs that provide work and training experience to young people and veterans on Interior’s public lands, such as the Student Conservation Association.

“American Eagle Outfitters is proud to support the conservation of public lands through America's youth,” said Helga Ying, Vice President of External Engagement and Social Responsibility, American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. “This public-private partnership is one close to our customers' hearts and directly reinforces our company's community engagement principles. Through this initiative, we are able to provide opportunities for students to work together to protect our planet and improve our country through a deeper connection to nature, civic engagement and community development.”

Already an initial group of nearly 100 organizations have been approved as partner organizations to stand up the 21CSC and provide work opportunities through supervised crews or small teams. In the coming months, the 21CSC National Council, made up of eight federal departments and agencies including the Departments of Agriculture and Interior, will focus on recruiting additional member organizations.

“Partners like American Eagle Outfitters' are critical to the Administration's efforts to conserve our public lands and to connect a new generation of Americans to the great outdoors,” said Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. “We are grateful for this contribution to the 21CSC initiative, and look forward to continuing to build public and private sector support to grow this initiative and engage more young people and veterans in important conservation work.”

Jewell first outlined her youth initiative in a speech at the National Press Club in October where she emphasized the need to bridge the growing disconnect between young people and the great outdoors. The goals of Interior’s youth initiative for the next four years include:

Play: Interior will develop or enhance outdoor recreation partnerships in a total of 50 cities over the next four years to create new, systemic opportunities for outdoor play for more than 10 million young people.

Learn: Provide educational opportunities to at least 10 million of the nation’s K-12 student population annually. In addition to welcoming students into nature’s classroom, we are developing and strengthening new online education resources, to reach more students.

Serve: Engage 1 million volunteers annually on public lands, effectively tripling the numbers we have now. We know that many more people are interested in volunteering at national parks, wildlife refuges and public lands, but there are often insufficient staff resources to coordinate them. In order to achieve the volunteer goal, we will place a renewed emphasis on volunteer coordination and management.

Work: To develop the next generation of lifelong conservation stewards and ensure our own skilled and diverse workforce pipeline, Interior will provide 100,000 work & training opportunities to young people within our bureaus and through public-private partnerships. As part of this effort, we aim to raise an additional $20 million to support the youth work and training opportunities.


More on this:

Watch "This Week at Interior" January 10, 2014

Secretary Jewell on the pioneering work of the Student Conservation Association

SCA President Dale Penny on the American Eagle - DOI partnership

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ben Monroe, Snow Rover Coordinator

Last week, we introduced the winter Snow Rover volunteer program. Today, meet one of the individuals who's helping to make it happen. Ben Monroe is a student at The Evergreen State College who's serving in a 12-week internship at Mount Rainier for college credit. Part of his duties include corresponding with and coordinating the volunteers who patrol around the parking lots and snow play area at Paradise. When Snow Rovers check in, he's the one who tells them where they'll be most helpful. When new Rovers arrive, he's the one who orients them and provides training. When all of our Rovers are huddled at home around their television sets watching the Seahawks, he's the one who fills in out on the trail, talking to visitors and making sure they have good information for visiting Mount Rainier safely and enjoyably.

In fact, a lot of Ben's duties involve getting out in the snow. In addition to coordinating volunteers, Ben, along with another Evergreen volunteer, Matt Sommerville, spend a lot of their day collecting weather data, resetting snow poles, marking and breaking trail, organizing supplies, and otherwise keeping our winter operations running behind the scenes.

Ben spends weekend afternoons staffing the information desk at the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise, so if you're up on the Mountain enjoying all of our new snow, stop in and say hi. Ask how you can help as a Snow Rover or, in the summer, a Meadow Rover, and thank him for his work helping to make it happen!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

MRNPA 2014 Schedule

This coming year, Mount Rainier National Park Associates will be conducting six volunteer work parties at Mount Rainier: four days of trail maintenance and two days we think of as "alpine gardening", i.e., weeding and planting.  MRNPA invites you to join us for a day or two of volunteer work, donating your time and effort, and enjoying the company of a group of people who love this amazing park. Please join us on any or all of the following dates. The actual locations will be determined by park staff about two weeks before the volunteer work party.

Saturday April 26: trail maintenance (a great day to get that first spring outing at Mount Rainier).

Saturday May 17: trail maintenance.

Saturday June 14: trail maintenance.

Saturday July 12: exotic plant removal (weeding). It may seem crazy but this is a very fun and popular work party.

Saturday August 9: trail maintenance.  This volunteer work party will be followed by a pot luck dinner and an overnight campout for the volunteers who have worked that day.  This is a great weekend at the Park and a chance to get to know the volunteers who work with you.

Saturday September 6: planting wildflower seedlings to re-establish alpine meadows in a former campground near Sunrise.

I hope to see you on one or more of our volunteer work parties.

John Titland
Volunteer Coordinator
Mount Rainier National Park Associates

Contact John at if you are interested in participating in one of these work parties.

Snow Rovers patrol a winter Paradise

Lots of transformations happen at Mount Rainier National Park from summer to winter. One of those metamorphoses is that our summer Meadow Rovers become winter Snow Rovers. Shedding their hiking boots and acquiring snowshoes or skis, these volunteers migrate along the popular snow routes around Longmire and Paradise. Snow Rovers travel from visitor to visitor along these routes, providing trail condition and safety information and helping visitors have a memorable experience at the park.

Have you encountered any of our Snow Rovers out in the snowy wild?

Photo by Gary Ouellette, shared on our Flickr photo group:

- Brandi Stewart, originally posted on Mount Rainier's Facebook page

Thursday, January 9, 2014

MeadoWatch Times

Anna Wilson has just posted a summary of MeadoWatch activities on the MeadoWatch Blog. She says, "The first year of MeadoWatch was an enormous success - all because of YOU! We are so glad you could join us in our inaugural year and we couldn’t be happier about your enthusiasm for wildflower phenology and collecting data! The extensive data you helped us collect is enormously valuable for science and the management of the park’s natural resources." To learn more about how this program helps us to understand climate change, be sure to read the "MeadoWatch Times," a .pdf file linked at the bottom of the blog page.

A few statistics shared by Anna:
48 Volunteers
78 Survey Days
429 Miles Hiked
468 Trail Hours
17,472 Data Points

Thank you, Citizen Scientists, for all your help!