“¿Y Que Haces en Tu Trabajo?”

I don’t think there’s one way to describe what I do at Lewis & Clark National Historical Park – Fort Clatsop (LEWI) without being too vague. I applied to be in the Interpretation Division as an Interpretive intern, which means that I am the person who is in contact with the visitors. My job, going down to its roots, is to help visitors care about park resources so that they support care for parks, in this case LEWI.  All this comes with things that involve interpretive activities for the visitors–giving trail walks, demonstrations, and planning and developing interpretive media or programs. As a bilingual Latino Heritage Intern, my job is to take that a step further and develop Spanish content for the park to increase visitation from the Latino community surrounding LEWI. That is only one aspect of the duties, just one division in a wide range of jobs that make LEWI keep opening their doors to visitors every day. This is my second time working for Interpration, and with every season there is always training given by different divisions for all-employee training. So for the first couple weeks was jam-packed with so much history and current events going on at LEWI. It amazes me that I was able to retain a good amount of information during training week.

One of LEWI’s restoration sites for the salmon!

The first week of training started off with making sure that the employees were equipped with knowing safety protocols that involved learning about risk assessments, on the job injuries, and CPR and First Aid. Throughout the next several days, my coworkers and I were taken to have a day in the Resource Division to learn about what they do around the park. It is fascinating the type of work they do in restoring and taking care of natural land that had been impacted by human development, in this case by lodging companies. One project that they are working on is called Dismal Nitch, located on the southern border of Washington but also considered to be a part of LEWI. The restoration project was designed to create a fresh water rest stop for the salmon population to have their offspring. Since the creation of the the highways along side of the Washington land and the damming of the Columbia River, the population of salmon has greatly decreased and is considered an endangered species in the United States and different parts of Canada. The hope of the resource division  with this project is to help wild salmon have a place to raise their offspring until they are ready to head into salty water and continue the life cycle. Prior to coming to Oregon and having resource training, I had little idea about how impacted salmon are and it was shocking to learn that a high percentage of salmon are not wild but farm grown. So there was comfort in knowing that LEWI was taking an active step to help out the wild salmon and actually see results from these projects! Resource staff do amazing work, and one of the lead rangers named Carla is so informative on the native plants that can be found around park and how they were utilized by the Native Americans. It is always interesting to hear her talk about the park, and she was happy to answer any questions that the employees had during training! During the following days of training, we were taught about the different interpretive programs that are given at Fort Clatsop. Basically, from head to toe, rangers dressed up in old clothing to give visitors an inside look at how expedition members dressed, and there was nothing from the current fashion visible to visitors. While rangers are dressed in these clothes, they give a variety of demonstrations such as quail pen writing, flint lock, candle making, fire starting, music mouth harp, etc. Each one has interactive activities that visitors can engage in during their stay at Fort Clatsop and they can practice some of these techniques. It was great to be able to see some close-up demonstrations, and it really inspired me to learn more about the park. After that, a majority of the employees from different divisions gathered together for an all-employee photo in front of the replica of Fort Clatsop.

Kayak training in Skamokawa,Washington

The best day of training was yet to come, and there was one more training that I had to do. I did not know it at the time, but since I would be doing some kayak work I had to know how to be able to help myself and others in a kayak tour. Kayak training was all day, and required about six hours in the water with life jackets and wet suits. It was probably one of the most intense trainings I have ever done for anything. Not only was the weather chilly, but the water was super cold. The instructors for this particular training drilled us on various rescue routines that required us to be able to take “the visitor” to safety. This meant doing scenarios where the visitor’s kayak would capsize, getting stuck between some logs, draining a flooded kayak, stabilizing a kayak, and so much more. Since I was doing the training with other employees of LEWI, we took turns being the rescuer and rescuee. I was nervous playing the in-need-of-help visitor, especially capsizing my kayak, but in the end I was super comfortable participating. It was fun just being in the river learning some helpful skills with my coworkers, and I loved capsizing my kayak even though I was freaked out the first time. Before I knew it the day was over, and I had officially finished kayak training feeling a sense of accomplishment! It was a great end to a great training week, and I felt prepared for the weeks to come. Training informed me so much about the park and definitely added some great insight on how much the employees of LEWI work together to get the ball rolling for the next day. I can’t wait to see what these next couple weeks have in store for me!   Encuentra Tu Parque! Edith J.  

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