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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Trap Pond State Park, Laurel, Delaware, USA

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Trap Pond State Park, Laurel, Delaware, USA


Registered: September 2012
Posts: 1
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For the summer of 2012, I volunteered as an Environmental Educator at Trap Pond State Park in Laurel, Delaware. Before starting, I was properly trained at the two day Statewide Interpretive Training held at the beginning of the season. I was educated in topics such as park regulations, customer service, leading programs, dealing with children of all ages and with children requiring special needs, running summer camps, sexual abuse prevention, cyber security, etc. This training prepared me for what was to come during the summer, but the real training actually began when I had to implement all of the concepts I learned there.
The main task I was assigned to during my time at Trap Pond was overseeing the recently built Bald Cypress Nature Center. Some of the minor activities I performed in the Nature Center included simple office tasks, i.e. answering phones, greeting visitors, answering questions, etc. Trap Pond also offers many educational programs for children, so school groups, church organizations and camps used our resources to inform young minds about nature. For the major part of this internship, I led programs such “Tracks and Traces”, a program encouraging children to recognize signs that animals have been in the area, and “Seining”, a program where we take a fishing net and sweep it across a small area of the pond in order to discover the different aquatic species residing within. I also assisted with Pontoon Boat tours (after I passed my Boater’s Safety Course exam and received my license), and Nature Center tours. Also, the Nature Center staff and I would clear the hiking trails of overgrown branches and debris.
In addition to the Nature Center activities, I also provided services to the campground located in the park. I called Bingo on Friday evenings and did crafts with children on Saturday mornings. The park offered a “Summer Concert Series”, where local bands would come to give free entertainment to park-goers, and I would assist as needed with this program as well.
Trap Pond State Park is a very environmentally friendly place to work and to visit. As a rule, all Delaware State Parks are “Carry In, Carry Out”, in order to prevent unwanted wildlife from entering, as well as keeping the park clean and appealing to those who visit. We have “No Pet” and “No Tobacco/Smoking” policies in picnic areas and pavilions to ensure cleanliness and protection to the environment as well. All of the park buildings are equipped with recycling bins that are available to the public to encourage them to recycle things like water bottles and sunscreen containers.
My personal position contributed to the overall operation of park business immensely because of how short staffed state parks in general are. State parks are not given very much funding so extra sets of hands are hard to come by. Most people in the state parks system are volunteers who do not get paid for their efforts, and with the economy as it is, many are not willing to sacrifice paid time at a job to volunteer. I relieved a lot of pressure that was on the Nature Center staff by helping to run programs and perform the simple office duties mentioned previously. This allowed the full-time staff to begin more detailed projects that had been put off before I was employed, such as implementing a new “Geocaching” program, and setting up itineraries for several weeks-worth of children’s summer camps.
As a civic responsibility, Trap Pond State Park educates the young as well as the old about the importance of taking care of the environment. By instilling concepts like conservation, preservation and protection, we hope that people leave the park with a new outlook on how to treat things in nature. We try to follow three basic guidelines, “Know, Feel, and Do”. We tell people what we want them to know, we pull in elements of emotion so that they feel something about the cause, and we enforce the idea that, unless we do something, things will not change. Education is the key to a successful future, especially when it comes to learning how to care for the world we live in. I noticed that people are much more willing to change their ways when they understand what they are doing could be detrimental to the planet. I believe that many lives have been changed for the better because the staff at Trap Pond and I have educated people about the environment.
The greatest challenge for me was leading some programs on my own. It was very hard for me to stand up in front of large groups and teach them what I wanted them to know without being nervous, my voice sounding shaking or forgetting what I wanted to say. Sometimes the adults would be very rude to me if I did not know an answer to their question, if I caught them disobeying a park rule, or if something did not go according to their plans, and I would have to deal with these situations without getting upset myself. I can say however, I have gotten much better at public speaking and dealing with these challenges over the summer, and I know it will only get easier in the future.
While dealing with people older than me was a challenge, I was very successful at working with children. I was told many times that I have a lot of patience with kids, and was able to have fun with them while still being authoritative. Another success would have to be the amount of information I learned and was able to retain because I was constantly teaching others. I never thought that I would be an “educator” but I have found out that many jobs require one to do just that, especially in the field I am pursuing. Overall, volunteering at Trap Pond State Park has given me a greater insight as to what is in store for my future, and I couldn’t be more excited!
· Date: September 2, 2012 · Views: 2421 · File size: 18.3kb · : 320 x 240 ·
Hours Volunteered: 600
Volunteers: 2
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 19 & 20
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