Continuing my Colorado Chapter

As the fall approaches, the trembling aspen trees have begun displaying hues of yellows which will turn to orange and reds. Time is fleeting, and we’re existing in these unique yet temporary moments of our lives. As my internship approaches its inevitable end, I will always cherish the experiences I’ve made throughout my LHIP journey. 

Despite no longer being in LHIP, my time at FLFO will continue through an internship with the Student Conservation Association (SCA). I’ll be leaving Colorful Colorado in December, so I’ll be able to experience winter here. Lately, I have been feeling homesick, so hopefully my loved ones make a trip to visit me in the near future. Fortunately, technology makes it easy to keep in touch. I’m proud of all the progress I’ve made, and I’m excited for the final outcome of my work at Florissant Fossil Beds. I’ve connected with numerous people who have inspired me in multiple ways. I’ve networked with my colleagues and NPS superiors, new friends, along with visitors who all have their own stories and wisdom to part. I appreciate all of the people I’ve met and connected with thus far.

Despite this year’s circumstances, I’ve been creative in ways that would’ve otherwise not have been possible. I’ve been developing diversified activities that use proof of concepts for our virtual geology and paleontology camp curriculum. For example, my recent blog is about the Florissant formation enchiladas that includes the recipe, directions, and stratigraphic column. To further illustrate the process of making enchiladas I created a stop-motion video. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my projects. I created characters along with their backstories that kids can select for the interactive game I’m developing. Karen Ceballos, who I mentioned before created the graphics for those characters. She is a talented illustrator and Ranger at Organ Pipe National Monument. 

Meet Tomás, Imani, and Ava! These kids may be fictional, but there’s kids like them out in the world! I think it’s important to show diverse kids along with their unique interests that other kids can relate to. By dismantling preconceived notions of what scientists should look like then younger generations can become inspired to pursue their scientific interests and career goals. 

I also had an idea of depicting a Latino family in front of the “Big Stump,” and she illustrated a multi-generational family admiring the petrified Redwood stump. I’m thinking about using this image to accompany the poem Franklin Cruz and I are collaborating on. We’ve made great progress, and I think we have a truly powerful piece to share. 

In addition, I’ve listed terms for the scientific and scenic resources of FLFO to use for a Loteria game. Karen is illustrating these terms. I can’t wait to print-out these cards to play with my family, so that they can connect with the park. I hope families across the country do the same.  

Based on the artwork she’s done so far, I’m excited to see the rest of the completed projects! I can’t wait to share them with you all as well. If you’d like to see more of her artwork, follow her on Instagram @ka_wren_ceballos.   

On another note, this past month has been interesting. I was able to witness an unusually early snowstorm, in which the temperature suddenly dropped for three days then returned to the mid-70’so F. Throughout the past month, I’ve taken the time to explore the nearby areas to learn about the local history.

Astrid enjoying the snow while bundled up for the cold temperatures

A small set-up of granitic cobbles and pebbles at the entrance of the small town of Guffey, CO

According to local lore, the skeleton of the first mayor is seen along with the skeletal remains of two horses drawing the prison carriage (not sure if that’s true but it definitely makes for a fun story).

I went to the town of Guffey, which is a small town that was once the center of the Freshwater mining district in the late 1890’s. Copper, lead, zinc, mica, feldspar and small traces of gold and silver were extracted from the intrusive igneous and metamorphic Precambrian rocks in the area. However, mining wasn’t profitable here. This region’s landscape was shaped by the volcanic activity of the Guffey volcanic center within the Thirty-nine Mile Volcanic Field that’s associated with the preservation of the fossils at Florissant Fossil Beds.

Entrance to the Florissant Cemetery

James Castello’s grave at the Florissant Cemetery

I also visited the Florissant Cemetery and read about some of the Florissant pioneers. The small town of Florissant was founded by James Castello in 1870, which he named after his hometown of Florissant, Missouri. The word Florissant is the gerund for the French verb fleurir, which translates to flourish or blossom. However, it’s important to acknowledge that far before Anglo settlers “founded” this area, these were native lands. As stated by the FLFO NPS website, the Ute people considered the Florissant Fossil Beds part of their traditional use lands. Many Ute people live in the area and visit the Pikes Peak region because of their ongoing connection with the land here. There’s so much history in this region that I’m still learning about and that fascinates me.      

I’m going to continue blogging to share my ongoing experiences along with my presentation for the Geological Society of America’s annual conference, which will be held virtually on October 26th. I’ll also write about how I am further sharing these projects to organizations and educators across the nation. 

By documenting my adventures, I will have a record of all that I have accomplished and the places I’ve visited. I’ve been making steady progress on the projects I’ve created and developed. What I’ve enjoyed the most about my internship is the freedom. I wasn’t following an already established guideline, nor was I told what to do and how. My responsibility was to offer my cultural perspective to create distinct projects. During my internship at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument (FLFO), I’ve had a non-traditional experience, but regardless of the circumstances I’ve made the best of this opportunity. Anyway, I’d like to thank those who have been following my blogs so far. I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible for others to gain inspiration and ideas. I’m content knowing that a little piece of my mind and thoughts will forever exist in the LHIP website for future interns to read. 

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