A Monologue of an Adirondack Naturalist (In Training)

I thought for my first post I would give an introduction of myself and how I have found my way up to the Adirondacks and in this career path. So, here we go:

My name is Kristin. My hometown is in Endicott, the birthplace of IBM and spiedies (a.k.a the most delicious sandwich you will ever have). I am now going into my senior year at SUNY ESF in the Natural History and Interpretation program.  Just like every other college student, I’m always asked what I want to do once I get out of college and a couple of years ago, I didn’t really know. I kind of figured whoever was hiring and would take me. But now that I am spending my second summer in the Adirondack Park working at the Adirondack Interpretive Center, my answer has now changed to “whoever is hiring in the Adirondacks and will take me.”

It wasn’t until high school that I had the “Adirondack experience.” I was a member of the school’s recycling club, Green Team. A club whose main purpose is recycling may sound kind of lame, but every week we were able to fill the back of our teacher’s truck with cans and bottles and the money we got from the refundables went towards hiking trips. In my sophomore year, we came up to the Adirondacks during our spring break and hiked Mount Marcy. We hiked in to a lean-to and the next day we climbed up to the summit. I remember being at the top on that clear day and being able to see for miles and miles. There were no housing developments, no telephone poles or roads. It was all forest. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew that it somehow needed to incorporate nature’s treasures like those that can be found throughout the Adirondack Park.

Hiking has always been one of my favorite activities. The views in the Adirondacks are some of the best.
(Summit of Cascade Mt.)

I eventually made my way to SUNY ESF as a Biology major, but quickly learned that research wasn’t really my thing (a little bit too clumsy and easy to intimidate, I suppose). During my first college semester, I discovered the Natural History and Interpretation major. I realized that it fits me perfectly. The only thing greater than learning about my surroundings is passing that knowledge on to others who are interested in understanding the natural world. Bringing science and natural history to the public is one of the most important undertakings of the scientific community. Improving our natural world needs to be a community-based, large scale endeavor that cannot be limited to only those that are deep-rooted in the “hard science.” It needs to include all of us. I believe that someone will not feel a need to protect the environment unless they care about it. And how can you care about something when you know nothing about it? It is the role of natural historians and interpreters to help people make that connection with their environment. Everybody has some interest that is linked to nature, it’s just a matter of finding it!

And this includes the next generation of scientists and nature lovers!

Last summer, I was lucky enough to be accepted as the “Interpretive Naturalist Intern” at the Adirondack Interpretive Center. My goodness, what a summer! I developed programming, talked with guests, helped with marketing and personally explored the trails every day. By the end of the twelve weeks, I learned so much about the Adirondack region. Not only did I become familiar with the park’s natural history, but also its history and culture. I am certainly not an expert by any means, though I would like to think I’m on my way (though I’m sure it will take many more years)!

I learned about everything you can find in the Adirondacks, from the big things…
(Ruffed Grouse)

…to the little things
(Unidentified Mushrooms)

 

I couldn’t resist coming back for another summer, and can’t wait to see what surprises the Adirondacks have in store! And it is with this return that I have realized that I want to pursue a career in the park. I would love to be able to someday call the Adirondacks my home.

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