A Day In The Life – Samantha ayala

I’m going to start off this blog post by wishing everyone a happy Latino Conservation Week to everyone! I know things can get overwhelming from time to time, but I want you all to know that our work at our respective sites is so valued and important, and we are all doing an amazing job.

While (sadly) reflecting on the fact that my time at Fire Island is almost over, I remembered such a wonderful moment I had this past weekend. On Saturday, July 17th, I was working out of the Wilderness Visitor Center with Ranger Chad and we had a small family of 3 approach us for the Wilderness Walk, which is a tour on our 3/4 mile long boardwalk through the swale. One thing to note- the swale is often described as having desert-like conditions because of how the sun reflects off the primary and secondary dunes right into the swale. We even have prickly pear, a type of cactus, growing in the swale as a result of the heat! On this particular day, it was humid and hot with no breeze, so this unfortunately led to us turning around halfway through our tour because the mosquitoes were intense. We were all upset we had to cut the tour short, but we all knew it was the best decision to make in that moment.

Later this same day, a couple approached us looking to get stamped in their National Park Passport. They eventually asked for a tour, which we decided to brave out because they were so excited to go out! As we began to make our way down the trail, I spotted the family that had gone on the walk with us just ahead of us- with bug spray this time! It was such a heartwarming thing to happen and made me feel really excited and uplifted about the tours we give and the information we provide the public. The fact that they came back to finish our tour and continue to learn from us was so amazing to me. We proceeded to give our tour to our small group, and it ended up being a great one! Our new addition of 2 was so friendly and engaged and asked so many questions- they even mentioned they were thinking of visiting Sailor’s Haven, one of our other sites, in two days I mentioned to them that I was going to be there the next day, so if they came out, they’d see a familiar face!

The next day, we opened up the Sailor’s Haven Visitor Center on another hot and sunny day and as it got to noon, I thought they wouldn’t stop by. As we were giving out Junior Ranger books to kids who stopped by, I saw them come in waving to me with huge smiles on their faces! They were so kind and so excited to see me there as I had promised, and it was so exciting to know they decided to change their day for visiting in order to see a friendly face at the site. We talked a lot about National Parks and the sheer beauty of a place like Sailor’s Haven, which is one of only two maritime holly forests in the entire world. Our visitors left us with one thought- if one spent everyday in a place as beautiful as Fire Island, how could one ever be anything but happy and at peace?

I think this memory of meeting people and seeing how our conversations really impact them and that they care about what we’re sharing is so amazing and just really encouraging to see. I know that this is something I’m always going to remember. I hope everyone else is having lovely, memorable experiences!

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