City of Rocks National Preserve – Idaho

City of Rocks National Reserve
Idaho

https://www.nps.gov/ciro/index.htm

Junior Ranger – Senior Friendly

Completed: April 14, 2020

After six visits from 1998 through October 2019 to City of Rocks National Preserve, I finally finished their Junior Ranger booklet in April 2020, while staying home during the covid-19 pandemic. While organizing my junior ranger files I found the almost completed booklet. Luckily anything I needed to do while onsite I had completed, I just needed to finalize a few pages.

This park site is in the southern section of Idaho and is managed in conjunction with Idaho State Parks and Recreation. On previous visits we have camped within the preserve at NPS campgrounds and state park campgrounds. The beauty of this park can be experienced by camping or just on a day trip. I love the rocks; the variety of shapes, composition and groupings. The Native American history, as well as the California Trail route adds to the visit.

The program is considered Senior Friendly as the booklet is designed for ages 10 & up. There are thirteen activities, and seven are to be completed to earn the Junior Ranger badge. I completed ten activities, and partially did a couple of others. There is a nice mix between geology, natural features, history, map skills and art activities.

Rocky Scavenger Hunt provided excellent background on nine different geologic properties found in the preserve and an activity to match pictures to the terms. Matching animal characteristics, as well as animal tracts were done in the Who Am I? and Name that Track activity. The Map Search page made me realize there is more for me explore on my next trip to City of Rocks Preserve.

After contacting the staff by email I was told to take photos of my completed pages and email them to a designated ranger. I received positive feedback about my work and within a week I received their attractive wooden, enhanced badge.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve – Kansas

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Nebraska

https://www.nps.gov/tapr/index.htm

Junior Ranger – Senior Friendly

Completed: June 22, 2019

Each revisit to this site brings more places to explore, and this late June day had perfect weather to again enjoy Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The Junior Ranger booklet was a great way to learn more about this park site. This is an unique site, it is co-managed by the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy. It was established in 1996 to highlight a tallgrass prairie ecosystem on the Spring Hill Ranch. Once you leave the modern visitor center you can explore the ranch on your own or with scheduled tours.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as there are no age requirements listed in the booklet. The only requirement to earn the badge was to complete five activities. As the booklet has 18 possible activities, this makes completing the program easy. I always appreciate having choices and this booklet gives lots of options, it was easy to find 5 and more interesting activities.

I completed more than five activities, but spent most of my time completing Activity 11: Historic Spring Hill Ranch Buildings. While touring the grounds there are interpretive signs which provide the information needed to complete a series of questions. Badger, the park horse mascot, was out and about and curious as we walked past the barnyard.

As my husband is a retired paleontologist I used his expertise to complete Activity 8: Fossils, Geology, and Rock Fences. After examining the many limestone blocks which make up the ranch buildings I drew pictures of fossils we discovered.

A variety of topics; American Indian Culture, Plants and Grasses, Lower Fox Creek School #14, Get to Know the Preserve (5 Senses), as well as a short essay and drawing a picture, provides lots of way to explore and learn about this site. Once I finished my booklet I returned to the visitor center. Ranger Mary reviewed my booklet, administered the pledge and presented me with a standard Junior Ranger badge. A great place to spend a summer afternoon.

Click to access TPNP-Junior-Ranger-Guide-2019.pdf

Scotts Bluff National Monument – Nebraska


Scotts Bluff National Monument
Nebraska

https://www.nps.gov/scbl/index.htm

Completed:June 25, 2019

The best experiences are unplanned. As we were driving towards Scotts Bluff National Monument I saw on my Instagram feed that a fellow Senior/Junior Ranger, and one I had not met in person, was also on his way to Scotts Bluff NM. I made contact with @cliftonwanders, Patrick, and agreed to meet in the picnic area. Once we met we headed off to the visitor center to pick up our Junior Ranger booklets.

The visitor center was closed for renovation, a temporary trailer was onsite for passport stamps, gift shop and ranger contact. We learned that we only needed to hike a trail at Bluff Summit and answer questions related to the trails we hiked.


We drove up to the top and walked the South and North Overlook Trails. Seems like we backtracked a bit to find the places that would yield the answers to the questions posed in the booklet. I think our non-stop talking about our travels and common interests may have interfered with a more organized path. Overall it was a great experience, so fun to share a park experience with another fanatic!

Not rated as Junior Ranger, Senior Friendly as the booklet indicates the program is designed for ages 6 through 12. However, the staff was welcoming for these junior/seniors to complete the program. The requirements may be different depending on access to the visitor center. Upon return to the visitor center the ranger on duty administered the oath and issued us the wooden badge which highlighted the 100th anniversary of this site.

Photo Credits: @cliftonwanders, except for booklet. Thank you for commemorating this visit!

Waco Mammoth National Monument – Texas

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Waco Mammoth National Monument
Texas

https://www.nps.gov/waco/index.htm

Completed: January 5, 2019

Senior Friendly

Another National Park Service (NPS) site that was open during the January 2019 government shut down was Waco Mammoth National Monument in central Texas. This is another site that is still being managed by the local government and Baylor University, as arranged when it was named a national monument in 2015.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as the upper age group is given as Ages 13 and up. The three age groups are 5-8, 9-12 and 13 and up. Respectively, the required completed activities for the age groups are 5, 7 and 10.

Because this site has their booklet online I was able to print out several pages in advance of my visit and complete them before arriving. This helped to save time while heading home after being on a road trip for almost two weeks. In advance I completed the word search and a crossword puzzle, both had word banks.

While onsite I went on the tour, on a quiet Saturday morning I was the only one on the tour. Ranger Summer was an excellent tour guide, currently a volunteer and college student with plans to become a NPS Ranger. My favorite part of the tour was learning that two boys discovered the first of the Columbian Mammoth bones while exploring the creek bed. Luckily the families took the large bone to Baylor University in 1968. Those boys, now grown men, still live in the area and at times participate in tours. The building covers the massive bone field with some skeletons exposed and fairly complete. The Columbian Mammoth was much larger than the Wooly Mammoth.

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As always I enjoyed the scavenger hunt and interviewing a ranger, both favorite activities of any junior ranger program. Upon completion of the ten activities and review by Ranger Summer I was sworn in as a Junior Ranger. What was unique about this ceremony is my hand was placed on Mammoth tooth (replica), how cool! I received their enhanced Junior Ranger badge depicting their signature Columbian Mammoth.
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Click to access WACO-Online-Junior-Ranger-Book-508.pdf

Instagram: @Srjrranger

Vicksburg National Military Park – Mississippi

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Vicksburg National Military Park
Mississippi

https://www.nps.gov/vick/index.htm

Completed: January 3, 2019

Senior Friendly

During most of January 2019 a majority of National Park Service sites were closed due to an extended government shut down. We had traveled from Big Bend National Park (SW Texas) to Central Kentucky during this time to visit Camp Nelson National Monument. This site was the newest site for the NPS and commemorated our 400th visit to a NPS site. As a new site it was still being managed by the local government. On our way back home we learned that the City of Vicksburg was providing funds to keep Vicksburg NMP open. Walking into the Visitor Center and seeing rangers in uniform, on duty, was appreciated. Other NPS sites, across the country, were kept ‘open’, but without professional staff which lead to vandalism and unsanitary conditions in the parks.

Back to my visit to complete this Junior Ranger program. This program is considered Senior Friendly as no age groups are specified and everyone needs to only complete five activities to receive the badge. Even on this cold, rainy day completing five activities was easy to complete and gave me a good understanding of the importance of this battle during the US Civil War.

As an aside, I have heard about the Battle of Vicksburg all of my life. My great-grandfather fought and was wounded in this battle for the Union, as part of the Kentucky Infantry. He lived with my father when my father was a young boy. Several stories about Vicksburg were handed down and retold over the years. While touring the park I was able to visit the unique memorial, a tribute to both the Union and Confederate from Kentucky. Compared to the other memorials this memorial was erected recently, in 2001, a short walk from the Tour Road. An interesting fact I learned is that Abraham Lincoln and Robert E Lee were both born in Kentucky.

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Besides driving the Tour Road I completed the following activities; Visitor Center Questions, United States in:1861, Artillery Unscramble, Who Were They?, and Medicinal Plants. There are 15 different activities, many which would be enjoyable to complete on a warmer and drier day. The activity I enjoyed the most was “Who Were They?”. I was able to use the details of my great-grandfather’s enlistment to complete their enlistment form. I had received a copy of his enlistment at Camp Nelson National Monument.

The rangers on duty were enthusiastic reviewing this Senior Ranger’s booklet. Upon finishing the review I was sworn in as a Junior Ranger and received their enhanced badge depicting a cannon.

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Instagram: @Srjrranger

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site- Massachusetts

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Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site
Massachusetts

https://www.nps.gov/frla/index.htm

Completed: July 22, 2018

Senior Friendly

As part of our tour of park sites in the Northeastern states we spent a rainy Sunday afternoon at this site. It was a re-visit, one to which I looked forward. In my travels I have seen many of his beautiful gardens throughout the country. Besides walking through his house you can tour the architecture office upstairs, which I did on a previous visit. On this visit I enjoyed sitting in a comfy chair by a window overlooking the lawn.

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This booklet is set up for five age groups; age 4 and under, ages 5-7, ages 8-10, ages 10-13 and ages 13+. The number of activities is age dependent with only 3 needed for the youngest and all of the activities, 20 for the oldest. The rangers on the day of my visit encouraged me to do as many pages as I could, but did not require all of the activities to be completed. I appreciate this accommodation, as some of the pages are a bit simplistic. As a Senior Ranger I like doing as much as possible, but want the activities to be as meaningful as possible.

The activities include a variety of learning opportunities such as; word unscramble, word search, scavenger hunt, historic photography, matching, design process flowchart, sketch comparison, connect the dots, tracing paper plan, leaf identification, national location research, outside experience, bingo and arrowhead drawing. A great variety of activities kept this program interesting and challenging.

Several activities I really enjoyed was researching an Olmsted-designed project in my state, Arizona. I learned that El Tovar Hotel landscaping at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park was designed by the Olmsted firm. As a side note, most of the landscaping at this location has recently been redone using plants that are native and use less water.

I always enjoy the bingo and scavenger hunt activities, it is a challenge to keep looking for the items. An activity focusing on the Drafting Room showed how plans are developed from a sketch and change along the way.

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The ranger on duty spent time reviewing and discussing my completed work, something I always appreciate. I received the enhanced wooden badge depicting a small branch of leaves.

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Online booklet:

Click to access Jr-Ranger-Booklet-Frederick-Law-Olmsted-NHS.pdf

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site – New Hampshire

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site
New Hampshire

http://www.nps.gov/saga/index,htm

Junior Ranger – Senior Friendly

Completed: July 29, 2018

This was a repeat visit and my second attempt at completing their Junior Ranger program. On a previous visit I was not allowed to participate in the program, to date the only site which limited me as a senior. I wrote a letter to their acting Superintendent when I returned home and forgot about this slight. When I was planning to visit this site this past summer I checked the website and was pleased to see that ‘children of all ages’ can participate in their Junior Ranger program.

This beautiful site highlights the famous artist, Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907). The program has you explore the buildings and grounds to find the material in the booklet. His sculptures are scattered around the grounds. I am so glad I was able to spend the time to complete this Junior Ranger program on a beautiful summer day.

The booklet has sections for ages 4-6, 7-11, 7 and up, and a Teen/Adult activity. I was able to complete the nine pages for ages 7 and up, plus the Teen/Adult Level activity.

Sculptor Word Search – words relating to tools and materials used in sculpture and some of Saint-Gaudens famous sculptures are scattered in the word search.

Monogram Magic – Saint-Gaudens had a unique monogram which he used on some of his artwork. It was challenging to find at least three examples of the monogram, luckily a ranger gave me a hint which helped.

Sculpture as Jewelry – at age 13 Saint-Gaudens was apprenticed to a cameo maker, small relief sculptures. Besides identifying one of the cameos on display I was to design my own cameo inside a traditional frame. I am not great at drawing people so I drew a Great Blue Heron, one of my favorite birds.

Symbols – embedded in a large sculpture of Admiral David Farragut are a number symbols which were to be identified and sketched. I found several, including a sword, leaf, scrollwork, shark fin and wave. It was fun spending time looking over the large sculpture to find these symbols, and others in the sculpture.

Explore the Ravine Trail/Explore the Ravine Studio – a nice hike through the woods, including the studio area had you identify sights and sounds and answer some questions about the sculpture process.

Word Match – eleven words are provided to be matched with provided definitions.

Identify the Sculpture – what I thought would be easy, I found to be the hardest activity! A panel of close up pictures of sculptures scattered around the grounds were to be named and the type, relief or in-the-round. Wow, I struggled with seeing the small picture in the full-size sculptures. In fact I should have identified all 12 shown (find as many as your age), but only found six. When I return some day I hope to keep working on this activity.

Talk to a Ranger – always a favorite activity. I spoke to Ranger Jennifer who was on loan from nearby Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Her favorite part of the job is interaction with visitors. As with many rangers I have interviewed, her path to becoming a ranger was a college degree, internship and seasonal positions.

Walk to the Temple – out beyond the Studio is The Temple, the final resting places of the ashes of the Saint-Gaudens’ family. Besides listing the names of the family members, this activity has you interpret the Roman numerals, a challenge that brought back some early math skills.

Teen/Adult Level Junior Ranger Program – after watching a 10 minute DVD about Saint-Gaudens’ design of a $20 gold coin, a series of questions were given. I found the information about the numerous strikes, nine, that were done before an acceptable coin was produced most interesting. To learn that something we commonly use is so finely created was surprising.

I treasure all of my Junior Ranger badges and completed activity books, but this one is special. Having been denied completion previously I appreciated the opportunity to earn this badge. The staff on site was welcoming and enthusiastic that I came back to work on this program. Ranger Jennifer spent time reviewing my booklet before awarding me the enhanced Junior Ranger badge, the badge depicts his sculpture of Diana.

New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park – Massachusetts

New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
Massachusetts

https://www.nps.gov/nebe/index.htm

Junior Ranger – Senior Friendly

Completed: July 21, 2018

Junior Ranger Park Voyage

While visiting New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park in July of 2018 for the annual conference of the National Park Travelers Club (parkstamps.org) I completed a fun junior ranger activity. Instead of the standard junior ranger booklet I was offered a one page activity. This park is spread out over many city blocks in the charming, seaside town of New Bedford.


Mural of Frederick Douglass, a resident in the late 1830s

The page had five spaces for stickers from locations around town. This was basically a walking tour of the town. Even though it was July, and could have been hot and humid, it was a delightful 75 degrees.

The sites I visited were;

New Bedford Art Museum – it was open and free. An exhibit featured John Audubon’s work with an emphasis on his time spent in the area.

New Bedford Whaling Museum – an impressive museum which charges an admission. Our meeting was held at the museum and we were given free admission. If you visit this site plan on spending a couple of hours.

New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center – a small storefront with a nice display of fishing related materials, including different buoys. No admission is charged, about 1/2 hour is sufficient to tour the center,

Seamen’s Bethel – a public building which continues to serve as a chapel was built in 1830. During the day while I was in the area a christening and later a wedding was held here. A beautiful garden alongside the chapel was an enjoyable place to enjoy the wonderful weather.

Visitor Center – once I had visited all of the other sites I returned with my sheet to earn the Junior Ranger stamp for the park and their standard Junior Ranger badge. I really enjoyed this activity, simple to complete, but an enjoyable tour of this historic area.

Junior Ranger booklet

Click to access New-Bedford-JR-Book-Web-2016.pdf

Cape Cod National Seashore – Massachusetts


Salt Pond

Cape Cod National Seashore
Massachusetts

http://www.nps.gov/caco/index.htm

Completed: July 23, 2018

Cape Cod National Seashore is a mixture of national parklands mixed with private land, stretched out along a spit of land that stretches out into the Atlantic Ocean. Driving along the spit there are several visitor centers, as well as beaches and plenty of places to eat and stay.


Activities are divided into two age categories identified with animal icons at the top of each page; Grey seal icon for ages 5 to 7 and Humpback whale for ages 8 to 12. To become a Junior Ranger you are to complete at least five age-related activities, visit one cultural site and attend a ranger-guided activity. If you are not able to attend a ranger program ask for handout titled “Junior Ranger Alternative Activities”.

Even with limited time to work on this I was able to complete more than the minimum number of activities. The activities I completed;
Visit Cultural Site – Highland Light, a lighthouse that has a date of 1857 on the chimney, and is surrounded by a golf course.

Scavenger Hunt – I saw quite a few of the items depicted.

Exploring the Seashore – great graphics of plants and animals of which the words for these items are hidden within a word search.

Lifesaving Crossword – I appreciated the content provided on the first page with a lot of information about shipwreck lifesaving due to the frequent storms in the area. Instead of clues the bold words are matched with the first letter in the crossword grid.

Native Detective – an easy graphic match of animals to their tracks.

Get the Word Out! – design a poster about an important issue unique to Cape Cod NS. My posted depicted a pristine beach scene with a title “What’s Missing?”. The subtitles are; No Pets on the Beach, No Trash and No One on the Sand dunes.

What’s the Weather? – it was a gorgeous July day as we explored the area, partly cloudy and 75 degrees with a light breeze is what I recorded.

Staying in Touch – I wrote a note to my grandchildren comparing and contrasting this beach to a beach where they often visit along the west coast.

History Detective – An easy 3 multiple-choice questions based on archaeology.

Cranberry Harvest – six pictures showing the steps to cranberry harvest are scrambled for you to number in the correct order starting with what happens in January.

Crack the Code – Cape Cod NS was the site of the first message to be transmitted across the Atlantic Ocean to England in 1903. Morse Code was used by Marconi to send the message. A simple message is given to decipher with the provided Morse Code, a fun activity.

Marconi exhibit at park headquarters

I had picked up the booklet as we entered the area at the Salt Pond Visitor Center and worked on it on our drive out to Province Lands Visitor Center. The booklet was reviewed by a volunteer and the enhanced wooden badge was presented.

Fort Stanwix National Monument – New York


Fort Stanwix National Monument
New York

http://www.nps.gov/fost/index.htm

Completed: July 20, 2018

Fort Stanwix is a re-creation of a fort which was the center of activity in the Mohawk Valley, upper central New York, around the Revolutionary War. A variety of people called this area home; Six Nation Confederacy (local Native Americans) and multiple European immigrants. The history is complex, but very well interpreted inside the visitor center and outside on the fort grounds.

The booklet indicates you are to complete the same number of pages as your age. With 13 activities this Senior ranger tried to do all 13. The ranger on duty was forgiving and allowed me to skip a couple of activities, we were on a tight travel schedule.

Activities included;
What’s Your Story? – 3 questions you answer based on one of four people you select who lived in the Mohawk Valley during the Revolutionary War. The questions explored the individuals and your opinion about the conflicts of the time, I selected Bear Clan Mother.

Using A Map – create your own map based on the many maps in the visitor center, plus label a map provided with at least four of 11 locations provided. My map focused on the Finger Lakes area.

What Do You See? – a quick draw of four items found in the visitor center based on something; a child would use and an adult would use in the past, a child and adult would use today.

Yours or Theirs? – two pages of items based on travel and transportation, clothing, weaponry and cooking that you select if the item would be used during the Revolutionary War.

Building Fort Stanwix – using wooden blocks provided to build a fort, then a sketch of it.

Who Am I? – 6 questions to identify people displayed on a wall titled; “Who’s Who on the New York Frontier”. I found this the most difficult task in the booklet, the information was there, but it took a lot of reading to match it to the details.

What’s Up With Waysides? – a walk outside and along the fort trail had you write down three things you learned from the wayside exhibits, plus a space to design tour own wayside. My wayside featured the Natural Environment that would have been present in 1777.


I Am So Wore Out With Fatigue! – a choice to attend a ranger program (if available) or watch the film shown in one of the fort rooms, then answer questions.

Where Are Your Rations? – a quick nine-square Tic-Tac-Toe of items found in the fort rooms.

Imagine Yourself When… Write or draw about how you would have spent a day around the fort. I wrote about candle-making, as a means to earn money to feed the family while the woman’s soldier was away.

What Do You Stand For? – Lots of flags have flown over Fort Stanwix, with a space to create your own flag.

Defended to the Last Extremity – a diagram of the defenses of the fort to be labeled.

Let’s Make A Deal – a quick maze based on trading goods at the fort.

Additional Activities – Traveling Bingo, Make Your Own Ink!, and Crossword Puzzle.

It was a busy day when I visited, but I was able to complete the activities in a little over an hour. I appreciated the time Ranger Scott spent with me reviewing my booklet and discussing some of the complexities of the history at Fort Stanwix National Monument.

Online booklet!

Click to access NPS_FOST_JRBooklet_11-12-Web.pdf