23 Sep Wilderness Character and Interpretive Principles
I feel like recent graduates draw a line in the sand between education and application. That $40,000+ degree from a brilliant institution is not the end of your educational career. Every experience in life is a continuation of your education. It is within your power and intellectual finesse to apply these teachings to real life events.
Personally, Black Canyon has been an excellent educational experience that has challenged me both mentally and physically. This week was primarily focused on the true morals and worth ethic of what it takes to work for a resources team and/or be an interpretive ranger for a national park. My supervisor for the resources team here at the park, Danguole, gave me an excellent piece of literature to reference to when it comes to wilderness character. At first, I thought this has to be self-explanatory, meaning that wilderness character has to be defined the obvious; to care for the environment and not make a mess of things like humans have since the beginning of our species. I was wrong. The novel, Keeping it Wild 2, defined wilderness character as a, ” Holistic concept based on the interaction of (1) personal experiences in natural environments primarily free from the encumbrances and signs of modern society and (2) biophysical environments primarily free from modern human manipulation/impact, and lastly, (3) symbolic meanings of humility, restraint, and interdependence that inspire human connection with nature.” This oath is what the four managing agencies; Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife, National Park Service, and Forest Service, have to abide by in order to preserve the various qualities of the wilderness. A lot of people graduate college thinking they have an easy in into the federal government where they will be met with substantial pay and benefits without the moral obligations required for specific positions. This may be the case for certain positions, however, I found that success comes with passion and determination. People who are willing to put the time and effort into learning what it takes to work for a managing agency like the ones listed above are the ones who deserve the permanent federal positions. I hope I will be one of those people one day.
My interpretive supervisor, Paul Z., spoke to me about the evolution of ranger programs in the national park. His talk began with how interpretation is best translated as, ” an educational activity which aims to reveal meanings and relationships through the use of original objects, by firsthand experience, and by illustrative media, rather than simply to communicate factual information.” He then proceeded to give me a book that has the six principles of interpretation. I had this underlying feeling that Paul came into this world sporting a ranger uniform explaining the ways of interpretation, which would explain his vast knowledge of it now. He always jokes about how he is an “old man” but I suspect that the coffee he drinks has some form of eternal elixir that keeps him in better shape than most men my age. Further studies shall be conducted.
The benefit in combining wilderness character and interpretive principles is that I am starting to learn how to best translate environmental languages into one that can be understood and brought to great importance by the general public. People from around this world have an inert curiosity as to what really was here before humans took over the earth, but lack the capacity in not only how landscapes and wildlife have changed, but the vital need to understand these changes and find ways to alter them from happening in the future. This world is not a wide stage to entertain us, it is a part of who we are and where we come from, and this selfish thinking will only be the end of mankind in time.