12 Sep Week 8: Ancestral Rangers and a Weekend Road Trip
This week I was able to begin writing the outline for a new NPS program, Ancestral Rangers. Working with Ancestral Lands, the NPS is aiming to create new permanent positions for native people. Here is an excerpt of some of the language in the document I created:
“The Ancestral Rangers program is designed to bring on qualified native youth as permanent employees at NPS sites with native history or significance. These positions will give “Ancestral Rangers” a platform for sharing their tribal stories and improving community outreach in their native language, thus further cultivating a more relevant, diverse and inclusive environment within the National Park Service.”
The program goals include assisting native youth in navigating the federal hiring system to become full-time NPS employees and then, once hired, engage native communities in their own language while changing the narrative of NPS sites to include a native perspective.
While this program is in its infancy, it can turn into an amazing opportunity to improve diversity and promote inclusion within the National Park Service. Since we had a long weekend I was able to plan a short road trip to visit Pawnee National Grassland and Rocky Mountain National Park while two of my friends flew in for the weekend to visit me. Pawnee, a US Forest Service site, and Rocky Mountain National Park, an NPS site, are approximately 2 hours from my home in Denver. The drive out to Pawnee was filled with scenic views of farmlands and pastures. We arrived early in the morning so that we’d be able to complete a short hike to the Pawnee Buttes before driving to Rocky Mountain National Park. The dirt roads led to a flourishing grassland filled with buffalo grass, a key plant that allows wildflowers and other native plants to sustain life and retain water. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the larger parks in the Intermountain Region. There’s more than one visitor center, so we decided to go to the alpine visitor center. Rocky Mountain’s alpine visitor center is the highest visitor center in elevation in the entire national park system. My friends and I completed a short, but strenuous hike up to one of the peaks reaching 12,005 feet above sea level. The views were beautiful as you could see the alpine tundra landscape on the mountain peaks leading into thick forests below. I can’t wait to return to Rocky Mountain National Park to experience more of its vast lands.