Completed: September 9, 2015
At Yellowstone National Park the Junior Ranger booklet is purchased in a bookstore, located within the park visitor centers. For $3 you receive a very colorful booklet and when completed an embroidered patch. This was my first visit to the park after the busy summer season. The park was busy, but not nearly as busy as during the summer. Parking and driving through the park were much easier. When animals were sighted along the road, traffic did not come to a full stop, cars pulled off the road for pictures or moved through at a decent pace. While in the park I did see elk, bison, pronghorn and bighorn sheep. The weather was pleasant, but did get below freezing at night. Campgrounds were available, but filling by early afternoon.
The Junior Ranger program is divided into three age groups; Geyser for ages 4-7, Grizzly Bear for 8-12 and Bison for ages 13+. With no upper age limit this program is considered Senior Friendly. The booklet contains 28 pages and your age determines the number of pages to complete.
As a Senior I had to complete all of the activities, twenty eight pages of activities! The activities are titled; How to become a Yellowstone Junior Ranger, National Park Service Mission, Supervolcano, Discover Yellowstone, My Park Journal, Letting off Steam, Living Colors, Recipe for a Geyser, Predict Old Faithful, A Grand View, Animals Everywhere, Healthy Habitats, Wild About Wildlife, Wild Animal Stories on the Land, Bear Country, Native Bison, Fires in the Wild, Connections, Home on the Range, Changing Climate, My Yellowstone and Join the Park Ranger Team!
Some of my favorite activities were Predict Old Faithful, Living Colors, Animals Everywhere and Wild About Wildlife. For Predict Old Faithful you need to time the eruption, directions are given to determine when to start and finish, then calculate using information in a table to predict the next eruption. When I checked later in the day I learned my prediction was accurate, to the minute! By completing Living Colors I learned that the different colors you see around a hot springs indicate the temperature of the water. So the blue in the center is 198 degrees and the brown on the outer edges is 110 degrees, all too hot to touch. Animals Everywhere was a fun coloring page with 14 animals hidden in a black-line puzzle. You only need to find 10, I was able to find all of them. The Wild About Wildlife activity was a checklist of animals seen in the park (I also included animals I had seen a few days earlier while at Grand Teton National Park). The animals were put into three groups and you had to identify the groups as herbivore, carnivore or omnivore. It always surprises me that large animals, such as bison, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep are herbivores, which only eat plants.
Besides completing the activities in the booklet I had to attend a ranger program. I was fortunate to attend one at the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center titled, “Experiencing Wildlife”. The ranger did an excellent job sharing the power of the local wildlife. Recently a number of visitors have been injured when getting too close. He had animal skins, skulls and antlers to pass around. The weight of one elk antler was very heavy, hard to imagine an animal carrying two! At the end of the program he offered to have us ‘wear’ the bear skin. Made for a fun photo op.
After working on the booklet for two full days I took it to the Mammoth Visitor Center, at the north end of the park, to be reviewed. The ranger checked over the booklet and awarded me the patch. This Junior Ranger program was a lot of work, but very enjoyable and educational!