By Anna Kennedy
Monument Interpretive Ranger Intern, Summer 2018
It was an honor and a joy to spend this past summer as an Interpretive Ranger at the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Even after spending the previous year exploring the trails as a hiker and a naturalist, there was so much that I had yet to learn about what makes the monument so special.
Having a background in conservation biology and a solid understanding of ecology, I was not surprised when my love and appreciation for the incredible biological diversity grew each moment I spent roving the trails. I was not shocked by my awe at the incredible interdependence of organisms, nor at the shear number of species that one could count hiking through various habitats.
What did come as a surprise to me was the diversity of people that I met on a daily basis, visiting from a wide variety of places and enjoying the monument for a wide variety of reasons. Whether I was staffing the information center next door to the Green Springs Inn, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, or leading an interpretive program, each and every visitor I met had a unique story to share.
Engaging in conversation with visitors and learning why and how they were enjoying or utilizing their public lands was one of the most rewarding aspects of my summer experience. During evening interpretive programs at Hyatt Lake Campground I had the opportunity to get to know many folks that were camping out, some just escaping the smoke at lower elevations.
While hiking the trails between Hobart Bluff, the Green Springs Loop, and Little Hyatt Reservoir, I met a multitude of PCT hikers, some that traveled internationally to begin their through-hike from the Mexico-California border.
Working with kids during my Jr. Ranger programs was oh-so rewarding as we learned about the diversity of birds that call the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument home. I got to chat with some folks who decided to stop off at the Green Springs Inn for a slice of pie--some of them had no idea there even was a National Monument in Southern Oregon.
With each and every conversation I got to experience a diverse stories, perspectives, and ideas. Despite the smoke, the Interpretive Ranger team made contact with more than1,200 visitors throughout the summer!
As summer comes to an end and I once again enjoy the monument as a mere hiker and naturalist, I look back with great gratitude for being able to get a taste of what it’s like to be a Ranger. I hold great appreciation for the Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument for the opportunity to experience the monument in a different light, to develop my skills as an interpreter, and to meet the wide range of visitors enjoying and supporting their public lands.