08 Jun The Nature of Interpretation
“No matter what uniform you wear, we are all equal, we are all family”. The superintendent of Grand Teton, David Vela, may hold an important position in the park, but it is clear that he does so because he commands so much more than his title. With a bellowing voice and poetic disposition, I sat in awe of his explanation for efforts to connect the Latino community (like himself) to the parks. These efforts are based in the acknowledgment of the growing population of diverse youth and the inability to access National Parks because of a lack of resources. I learned Grand Teton also has a vision, shared with millions of people, to reflect on the rich Native American culture that always has been apart of Grand Teton’s history and ensure the inclusion of all the stories woven into the park over time. What slowly became clear to me as he explained the mission of the park, and really synthesized these past couple of weeks of training, was that I am a part of something so much greater than myself–just like David Vela. Today was my last day of training and my first presentation in the park. I got to apply the concept of “facilitated dialogue” which aims to branch from standard interpretation and integrate visitors more, so much so that the program is no longer ranger-centered. This form of interpretation means endless opportunities to be creative, informative, and relatable to our visitors. It’s a technique I think if applied this well in all parks, will really begin to build the interest and comfort for the new generations to get involved. After our first presentations, all the interns got the special opportunity to have a sit-down with all our supervisors as well as the superintendent. This gave us a chance to reflect on training as a whole and set the tone for our summer to come. And while these past days of training have had me breathless from both fear and amazement. Each step of the way I have had such a unique collection of mentors to help me as I leap from out of my comfort zone. There are still times when I walk outside, small in the shadow of the Tetons, and I just can’t believe I am here experiencing these mountain ranges and most importantly, the people that make up this beautiful place. From my charmingly unconventional roommates, to my compassionate supervisor, Andrew Langford, I am dazzled by the visions of those around me. This is an opportunity I wish for everyone, in whatever form they need it, because while this is just the beginning, I cannot explain the value of working with those with a mission in their heart to help bring others together.