YNP Upper Geyser Basin
Old Faithful
YNP Lower Falls

Bruce and Sara
Park Rangers (Interpretation) at Yellowstone NP
May 11, 2014 to August 30, 2014

As part of the Settlement Agreement for winning our Whistleblower Protection case, Sara and I were given the choice to work in any national park again as Park Rangers (Interpretation). And so we chose Yellowstone National Park and we started working there in the Old Faithful district on Monday, May 11, 2014.

Yellowstone National Park was not only the first National Park in the United States---created on March 1, 1872---it also was the first national park in the world. It's an amazing place encompasing 2.2 million acres with several very different and succinct areas:

In addition to those well-known areas of the park, there are other areas like Madison Junction and the Norris Geyser Basin, Hayden Valley, and a "circle" route of over 154 miles.

Because of its size, Yellowstone NP divides the park into seven districts---each with its own staff and programs. Historically the Old Faithful district has the most visitors, it has the largest staff, and everyone on the staff has to be prepared to do more programs, talk to more visitors, and become very knowledgable not only about the Upper Geyser Basin where Old Faithful and Morning Glory Pool are located, but also about the Middle Geyser Basin where the Grand Prismatic Pool is located, the Lower Geyser Basin and Firehold Lake Drive (Fountain Paint Pots and the Great Fountain). They also have to be prepared to do evening programs both at the Old Faithful Visitor and Education Center and at the Madison ampitheater---a half an hour drive away from Old Faithful.

Since we love working with people from all over the world and enjoy the challenge of learning new things, working at Yellowstone and in the Old Faithful district was great! It meant becoming more familiar with geology than we ever had been, it involved hours and hours of explaining the features of Yellowstone to visitors literally from around the world and across the country, and it involved being prepared to present or lead nine different programs or tours....and we loved it.

Of course, the first few weeks in any park involve an incredible amount of learning---learning how to open and close buildings, how to operate new and different cash registers and radios, and reviewing which of the many federal rules and regulations pertain to that particular park. It also involves many hours after work just reading and studying, an undercurrent of fear that you won't have assimilated enough information or learned enough...soon enough...to be able to help visitors, and a fair amount of stress about which programs to develop and how to develop them.

Fortunately, eventually answering basic questions becomes easier and more routine, we begin to know more and more of the facts and information about the park so we can answer questions without going to our resource books or asking older rangers, and our programs began to make sense.

Perhaps more than at some of the other parks in which we have worked, Yellowstone has lots of resources, well-established operating procedures with written SOP's for almost everything, some very competent and experienced management staff and supervisory staff, and both experienced interpretive rangers who have worked at Yellowstone for a few years and many dedicated new rangers.

If you want to write to or contact Bruce and Sara, write to bruce@schundler.net.

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