Wildland Fire Management
Completed at Tonto National Monument
Junior Ranger – Senior Friendly
Completed: May 8, 2017
While visiting Tonto National Monument I was offered the Wildland Fire Management Junior Ranger booklet. With wildland fires continuing to be a predominant factor in many of the park environments, learning about the management of fires was interesting.
This program has six activities which was easy to complete while I was at Tonto National Monument. This is a Senior Friendly program as no age requirements are given. The activities include; matching, multiple choice, fill in the blank, unscramble and graphic representation of fire hazards. When visiting parks ask a ranger if they have this booklet and badge.
Photo credit: fs.usda.gov
Once I competed the booklet a staff member reviewed the booklet, gave the pledge and awarded me the unique badge.
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!
A great place to explore, by car or foot. This site may not be on everyone’s list to visit, I would move it up and make sure to visit next time you are in the area. One thing we have realized over the past few years is Grand Junction, CO is close to Moab, UT which has better known park sites. The access to camping and lower cost lodging is much better in Grand Junction, and only a 2 hour drive away. During the busiest season rooms and campsites may not be available or too expensive in Moab, consider staying in Grand Junction and enjoying Colorado National Monument while in the area.
When I visited we were traveling through the park from West to East, with a stop at the visitor center near the beginning of the visit. When I picked up the booklet I asked if I could mail in the completed booklet after our visit, I was told that was acceptable. When planning to visit you can also print out a booklet in advance, the current link is listed below.
This program is considered Senior Friendly, the oldest age category is listed as Over 10. Other age groupings are 7 & under and 8-10 years old. For the older crowd at least 7 activities with eleven possible are to be completed. Besides completing the activities in the booklet you are expected to take a hike or attend a ranger program.
I took a delightful, short hike from the visitor center on a hot day along the Alcove Trail. I spent time photographing the view, tiny flowers, cryptobiotic soil, a lizard and a prehistoric-looking crane fly. A short trail, which allowed me to focus on the views and critters along the way.
Activities in the book included;
Explore – Trail Report, Learn – Be a Geologist, Learn – The Wear-Away Forces, Learn – Wild Ways, Learn – Living Soils, Explore – Meet the Plants, Learn – Otto’s Dream, Learn – Living off the Land, and Protect this Land Forever. Several activities focused on geology, a main theme of this park. Learning about the through John Otto’s Dream was enlightening. The focus on biology through Meet the Plants and Living Soil was the most interesting for me. Overall the booklet is well designed and was enjoyable to complete.
I finished up some of the drawing activities after I got home from the trip and mailed it to the address on their website. My booklet was returned with the standard Junior Ranger badge aling with a congratulatory letter from Ranger Abby. I really appreciated the persoal comme ts she added to the booklet.
In 2016 the Southern Arizona National Parks Office and Western National Parks Association created a statewide junior ranger program highlighting archeology throughout Arizona. The Oxford dictionary defines archeology as “the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artifacts and other physical remains“. Without a doubt the Arizona sites provide a wealth of experiences to explore the state’s rich archeological history.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – Victoria Mine
Eighteen of the twenty-two NPS Arizona sites are included in this program. To earn the patch only four sites have to be visited. A site specific ‘rocker’ patch was initially available for all of the sites. By the time I finished it in 2018 several sites had run out of their patch. I was able to get 12 of the 18 ‘rocker’ patches. Every site I visited was friendly to this Senior.
Each site has two pages to complete, one to be done on site and another page that can be done before you arrive. To be honest I found some of these on site activities to be the hardest I have ever done. Matching the picture in the booklet with the items on display in the visitor center was a challenge. The mixture of photo identification with answering questions was a great way to learn about the site’s archeology.
Montezuma Castle National Monument
I never tire of visiting the many Arizona National Park Services sites. Having this statewide program focused on archeology provided a fun experience.
Explore Arizona and earn a patch! With twenty-two National Park Service sites scattered across the state this program provides a variety of experiences. Western National Parks Association along with the National Park Service Southern Arizona Office created a state-wide Junior Ranger program. All of the sites were welcoming of this Senior Ranger.
With only four site visits and 7 pages of activities you can earn the attractive patch, with a visit to any of the sites you can earn the small site-specific ‘rocker’ patch. I was determined to visit all of the sites and get all of the rockers! Over seven months I made it to all of the sites, but the final site, Grand Canyon – Parashant National Monument eluded me. We planned to visit the monument and complete the assignment, but the office staff in St. George, UT told us no rocker was made for this site.
Now, for the best part of this program – it is based on photography! At each site there is a specific Photo Challenge. Some of the challenges involved a hike, some were right at the park’s visitor center. Rather than detail the activities in the booklet, you can view them using the link above. Below are some of the Photo Challenges I completed.
Casa Grande National Monument – Hidden Room
Chiricahua National Monument – Volcanic Hoodoos
Grand Canyon National Park – Kaibab Formation
Montezuma Castle National Monument – Historic Diorama
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area – Lee’s Ferry Peach tree
Tonto National Monument – Salado Pottery
Coronado National Monument – International Border
This hike will also qualify for their ‘I Hike for Health’ pin
As time goes on some sites may not have the ‘rocker’ patch for their site, however the Photo Challenge and learning about the park will make this program timeless. Get Outside and Explore Arizona!
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.
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.
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.
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.
A relatively new site, it was added to the National Park Service in 2006. The story reaches back to the 17th and 18th century when African men, women and children were buried in lower Manhattan and then forgotten. In 1991 their graves were rediscovered when a new building site was being excavated. From there a series of events led to the development of this unique and well-interpreted site. Besides being in the center of New York City, on a summer day with local day camps visiting this site was lively. I appreciate how the park service has interpreted this difficult history. Possibly 20,000 individuals may have been buried in this 5 block area. Of those, 419 sets of remains were excavated and sent to Howard University in 1993. They were returned to the site in 2003 for reburial. The visitor center does an excellent job of explaining the history. Adjacent, but outside and around the corner, is a dramatic Memorial.
This Junior Ranger program is considered Senior Friendly as no upper age is given. Only 4 activities are required to be completed, with 10 different activities from which to chose.
Artifacts Pictures of artifacts found on this site with the names scrambled, to be unscrambled.
Language Using Senegal, one of the African languages spoken, a couple of sentences which included my name and where I am from was transcribe. A translation guide was provided.
Who Am I? Short description of individuals are provided, using information from the visitor center displays I identified them. The descriptions focused on the circumstances of their slavery and their determination to become free.
Symbols Several Andinkra symbols are shown with their meaning; Wisdom & Prudence, Hope, Guardinship and Patience & Tolerance. For this activity you draw your own symbol.
Be A Reporter Using the timeline in the visitor center nine events from 1991 up to 2010 are identified detailing the discovery of the remains, up to the opening of the visitor center.
Fill In The Blank Completing the 5 sentences from informations found in the visitor center.
Freedom For me – “Freedom to speak freely!”
Memorial Stepping outside the answer to these 7 questions are found at the Memorial.
Africa Color Africa your favorite color.
Experience Your America An opportunity to list the ways to care for all of the National Parks.
Even with lots of summer camps kids experiencing the site I was able to complete the booklet in about 1-1/2 hours. The space is small and packed with excellent displays and information. The ranger on duty willingly helped me with a few of the questions. Besides receiving the enhanced, smaller metal badge I received an attractive patch.
Next time you are in New York City take time to visit the African Burial Ground Monument, it literally is ‘history’ under your feet.
The beauty of this monument is incredible, expansive and memorable. Get Outside and explore this unique landscape! My few photos do not do justice to this landmass, however the diversity of this monument is well represented in the Junior Scientist Activity Booklet.
When I completed the program in 2016 this Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National Monument was much larger than it is as I write this blog. And, as I recently drove through the area I was saddened to realize this monument, which was shrunk in size in early 2018, had been reduced in areas that were previously readily accessible from major roadways . I only hope that one day, soon, the original boundaries can restored.
This program does have an upper age limit printed in the booklet, however I was provided the booklet and badge readily. To become a Junior Scientist you need to;
Watch the “Traces in Time” video, available at several of their visitor centers.
6-8 years old completes 3 or more activities, 9-12 years old completes 5 or more activities.
Visitor Center Scavenger Hunt, Climbing the Grand Staircase, Paleontology Tool Hunt, Creating a Landscape, Top-Toe through the Crypto, Animal Tracks, Connecting to the Past, Human History, Leave No Trace, and Journal.
The Visitor Center Scavenger Hunt can be completed by visiting the four visitor centers and identifying each center’s theme and answer one question. During this one trip I was able to visit all four sites so I was able to complete all of the activities. As an adult, if you plan to complete this program, plan to visit all four visitor centers – well worth the views along the way!
Creating a Landscape was a drawing activity to illustrate how geology, through deposition and erosion, creates different landscape. My basic sketch depicted a rain cloud over the slick rock. I enjoyed Animal Tracks which included a story with animal tracks embedded, you had to match the animal’s tracks to the animal in the story.
Besides highlighting geology and biology the booklet includes great activities to learn about cryptobiotic soil, paleontology, archeology and environmental impact. The diversity of this monument is well represented in these activities. After exploring Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument I completed all of the activities on the Junior Scientist Activity Booklet I received the badge at the Escalante Visitor Center.