Education Operations at Zion

Zion has gained ALOT of visitation in the past years. We are now the 3rd most visited National Park! 1st being Great Smokies and second is the Grand Canyon. In 2023, Grand Canyon had 4.7 million and Zion had 4.6 million visitors. BUT, we have probably less than half the space as Grand Canyon!

Because of that, Visitor Use Management is huge in Zion, as we try to make the visit enjoyable for everyone. We definitely have noticed this increase in visitors in our Nature Center builidng, where I work every day. This summer, we have already passed last summer’s visitation in the Nature Center and our program audiences are almost doubling in audience! 

 

An example of our shuttle line

 One major component for programs is doing Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR). PSAR is really important in a big natural park like Zion, where there can potentially be several search and rescues every day, especially because it often hits over 103 degrees here. A common PSAR message we do is for our Narrows hike. The Narrows is a famous hike in Zion that you hike THROUGH the Virgin River in between a slot canyon. It is really beautiful, but it can be dangerous during the summer due to our monsoon season. Monsoon season can cause flash floods in our slot canyons, so we make sure to inform all of our visitors of what the potential rating for a flash flood that day is. 

A flash flood in the Virgen River

Lastly, I want to cover what a typical shift looks like for the education team in case any interns are interested in pursuing an education role in the National Parks! From my understanding, education is more geared towards younger audiences, like our Junior Rangers. Interpretation is similar, they still build programs that are educational, but their programs might be longer and more advanced content suited for adult audiences. In both interpretation and education there is a lot of cross-over, I definitely get many adults who are drawn into my programs and interpretive rangers get children at their programs all the time! I think it is important to ask yourself what audiences do you work with best and how do you like to write your programs? PERSONALLY…. I love kids, lol. They are SO FUNNY and all of their questions are so valid. 

Our "Emerald Explorers" pop-up

I personally really love the education team. We have gotten really lucky that everyone really gets along and does their job well and we just really work well as a team. Today we even had a whole education team meeting to go over how the summer has gone so far and what we are looking forward to. At the end of the meeting our supervisors made us all tacos and we shared a lunch together. Everyone on Ed in Zion is so awesome and I am very grateful to be apart of this team. <3

Ranger Kristen, me, and my supervisor Jorge!
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