You may have already met Chipper – conscientious ambassador of the great outdoors leading a new generation of kids into our park systems – but if not …hello!
Chipper playfully teaches kids about our parks, nature, and the importance of working together to take care of our environment. Through our award-winning Let’s Go Chipper!™ series of books, apps, DVDs, and community-based programs, Chipper and his friends want to help educate kids and support our park rangers.
Starting this month, we will be posting park ranger profiles and interviews to help inspire future rangers and increase interest in parks. Why do we need Park rangers, you might ask? Because they have a detailed knowledge of the layout of the parks and they are community sensitive in gaining compliance with park regulations. Park rangers also create a positive presence that communicates respect for our parks. They protect our natural spaces and make sure we have a safe visit. We love park rangers!
The first profile we are looking at is from Park Ranger Leslie Young who has been working at the Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui in Hawai’i for the past two years. She was kind enough to provide some photos and answer these questions for us:
1. What inspired you to become a park ranger?
I love playing outdoors, learning about nature, and experiencing the diversity of our country. Being a park ranger allows me to dedicate my career to preserving natural resources and history.
2. What is the best part about being a ranger? Describe a day on the job.
The best part about being a park ranger is constantly learning more and understanding more about the park. I then get to share my knowledge with visitors. A day on the job of an interpretive park ranger includes working in one of our 3 visitor centers. In the visitor centers, we sell merchandise, issue permits for camping, plan activities, and answer questions. We also lead hikes that introduce visitors to the history,
geology, plants, and animals. We run our Citizen Scientist Program to get visitors involved with birds, weather, geology, navigation, and culture.
3. What’s a fun fact about your park you like to share with visitors?
Haleakala National Park is home to the wettest spot in the United States – Big Bog in the Kipahulu Valley.
4. What advice would you give to kids and their parents visiting your park?
Plan ahead! Check out our website to learn more about the park and have a general idea of which activities you’d like to participate in. Be prepared – wear sturdy shoes and wear/bring clothing and gear for cold temperatures, rain, warm temperatures, and intense sunlight. Bring food and water!
5. What is the most important thing about parks in your opinion?
They offer places for people to have their own unique experiences, whether it be multi-day backpacking, wildlife viewing, river rafting, or just admiring landscapes. These personal experiences we get at national parks enrich our lives and allow us to leave the bustle of our everyday lives behind and enjoy the public land that is here for all of us.
There are 7 National Park in the State of Hawaii. Around 4,667,330 people visited last year (2011), giving the park much needed funding (http://www.nps.gov/state/hi/index.htm?program=parks). Haleakala National Park was originally created as part of the Hawaii National Park along with the volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Kilauea on the island of Hawai’i in 1916. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was made into a separate national park in 1961. The park area was designated an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980. The name Haleakala is Hawaiian for “house of the sun.” According to a local legend, the demigod Maui imprisoned the sun here in order to lengthen the day.
The park features the dormant Haleakala (East Maui) Volcano, which last erupted at around 1490. The park is divided into two distinct sections: the summit area and the coastal Kipahulu area.
This park is a special place vibrates with stories of ancient and modern Hawaiian culture and protects the bond between the land and its people. The park also cares for endangered species, some of which exist nowhere else. Come visit this special place – renew your spirit amid stark volcanic landscapes and sub-tropical rain forest with an unforgettable hike through the backcountry.
Visitors now have a new way to experience Haleakala National Park with the Backpack Haleakala program, a partnership between Haleakala National Park, Makawao Public Library, and the Hawaii Natural History Association. Check out a backpack and receive free entry to the park! For more information about the program, you can contact them at 808-572-4400. Please feel free to ask about Educational Fee Waivers as well if you are planning a class trip or similar educational. The next time you’re in Hawaii, consider visiting this geographically historical park and learn about one of the newest places on the planet. Aloha!
Olelo Ola (Living Words) – The National Parks of the Pacific Islands bring you a blog centered around the legacy, culture, and environment of the Islands: http://pacificislandparks.com/