Minidoka National Historic Site – Idaho

Minidoka National Historic Site

Completed: June 13,2018

This stop along our route was a re-visit to this site. It was good to see that there is now a visitor center, interpretive signs, ballpark and other buildings in progress of being restored. The ranger on duty was a wealth of information, providing excellent information about this historic site. I always find it difficult to visit the sites within the National Park Service which interpret dark times in our history, but I appreciate the honesty which the information is presented. The site is small and the Junior Ranger booklet can be completed easily during a short visit.

The program is not Senior Friendly as the oldest age listed is 12, however the ranger on duty readily provided the booklet to this Senior. Of the 11 activities in the booklet, 6 are to be completed by these 6-9 years old and 8 of the activities by those 10-12 years old.

The eleven activities are;
Minidoka Word Search – 15 words related to this site.
What Would You Take? – with only five days notice and just able to bring suitcases this activity had you list what you would bring, how much could you fit in one suitcase and what you would have to leave behind. This was difficult and eye-opening.
Connect the Centers – Matching the 10 Relocation Centers with the states scattered in 7 Western states,
Minidoka Journal – writing about a day of life in the camp. I wrote about the heat and wind and a brother playing baseball.
Haiku – Bright blue skies
Thinking of grey skies
And going home soon
Fill-in-the-Blank – 7 words are given to complete sentences which provide background about relocation camps.
Finding Your Way Home – a quick maze based on when the Japanese-Americans began returning home in 1945.
Color By Number – coloring the logo for this site, the entry gate.
Ask A Ranger – I learned that most of the internees at Minidoka came from the Pacific NW.
Was It There? – deciding if typical buildings in a city were present at Minidoka; such as post office, library, gas station, schools, theatre, and churches were present.
Cryptogram – using a key, words are decoded that describe where the internees cane from, where they were assigned and other details related to this time in history.

Prior to leaving the site the ranger presented me with the enhanced wooden Junior Ranger badge. This site is near other park sites, as well as Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge which is well worth a visit while in the area.

Olympic National Park – Washington

Olympic National Park

Completed: June 25, 2017

Senior Friendly

This summer we visited several sections of the park, spending most of our time camping along Kalaloch Beach. Olympic has something for everyone – ocean, rivers, lakes, rainforest and mountains. No matter where you roam in this park there is plenty to see and do. Completing the Junior Ranger activities is easy with so much variety to explore.

Age groupings are Ages 5 to 7, complete five activities and Ages 8 and above, complete seven of the nine activities, plus all ages are to attend a ranger program, walk a trail and interview a ranger. Activities are; Where are your national parks?, Nature Hike Bingo, Tree of Life, Fishing for Home, Get Connected!, Seashore Detective, What’s for dinner?, Help a Ranger and Park Poet.

While camped at Kalaloch Beach I attended an evening ranger talk about Destruction Island, just off the coast. The first recorded shipwreck was in 1808, a lighthouse was built in the late 1800s and today it part of the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge. My hike activity was along the beach, enjoying tide pools and observing a juvenile and adult Bald Eagle.

For the activities in the booklet I enjoyed the Nature Hike Bingo. Besides looking for a variety of natural features I drew several of them, not an artist, but a skill I keep practicing. For Get Connected, which has you identify things you; saw, heard, smelled and touched, while exploring the park I sketched the juvenile Bald Eagle I saw perched on the top of a tall pine tree along the coast. My outline of the trees and perching tree look much better than the bird.

What’s For Dinner features the complex web of the plants and animals in the park, basically having you match a large variety of plants and based on what they eat. Orca whales eat Salmon, Starfish eat Mussels, a woodpecker eat ants, and so on. For the final activity I wrote a cinquain-style poem linking the forest and trees.


By the time I attended the evening ranger talk I had completed all of the activities for this program. After the program, Ranger Bethany reviewed my booklet, discussed some of work with me and awarded me the enhanced badge, featuring the Elk found in the park. This is a park that I will return to, there is so much to experience in a variety a ecosystems – Truly, something for everyone!

Niobrara National Scenic River – Nebraska


Junior Ranger

Completed: September 27, 2013

Smith Falls

The Niobrara River begins in Wyoming and ends in Missouri, but primarily flows through northern Nebraska. Completing the Junior Ranger booklet gives you an appreciation for the diversity of the river. As the river stretches for 535 miles you can approach the river from many places. Luckily I arrived in Valentine, almost in the middle of the state, and picked up the booklet at the Visitor Center. The ranger was very enthusiastic. She recommended I take the booklet, work on it as I continued to travel east and mail it back when completed.

Inside the front cover it is listed that the booklet “is designed for kids ages 6 – 12, but all ages are welcome”. If you are over 9 you are to complete all of the activity pages. With an upper age listed this program is listed without the Senior Friendly tag, however I appreciated the ranger’s encouragement to complete.

After we left Valentine we visited the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge, which the river flows through. After a short hike along a nature trail and drive through the refuge for some birding we continued east and camped at Smith Falls State Park, also part of the river system. A nice walk from the campground brings you to Smith Falls, tallest waterfall in Nebraska.

The booklet highlights; using your senses, source of the water and it’s variety of uses, a game traveling the river, geology, mammal fossils, animal tracks, fire cycle and a photo bingo. Of the sixteen images on the bingo I was able to observe eleven in the twenty-four hours I spent along the Niobrara National Scenic River.

DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge – Iowa


DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge
N of. Council Bluffs, IA

Junior Ranger, Senior-friendly

Completed: September 29, 2013

What a fun surprise today! When I arrived at the amazing Visitor Center for DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) I learned that they had a Junior Ranger program, or as they call it, Junior Refuge Manager.

This program is well designed for all ages. No age range is given. The number of activities that you complete are based on three time frames; your first visit or you only visit once a year, you visit a couple times a year and if you visit regularly. If I lived in this area not only would I visit regularly, but it would be a great place to volunteer.

Besides managing and preserving the wildlife this preserve has historical importance. Lewis & Clark camped here in 1804. In 1865 the steamboat Bertrand sunk on part of the river that became part of DeSoto NWR. It was discover and excavated at the end of last century, the mud preserved the cargo. The boat was on it’s way west, to supply the pioneers. The pictures below show some of the incredibly well-preserved cargo.

One of our favorite birds was hanging around on a path near the VC, the Great Blue Heron. It was also confirmed that the squirrels in the area are Fox Squirrels.

While there I received their Junior Ranger award; badge and certificate. Plus the ranger on duty offered an array of other items; pins, bags, coffee cup, etc to choose from, as an additional award. I selected the Blue Goose hatpin.