|Leah Eskelin leads kids on photo safaris. Photo credit: USFWS|
Leah Eskelin serves as a Park Ranger for Visitor Services at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. She describes her typical summer day as “diverse and fast-paced.” She spends part of the day staffing the Visitor Center front desk, answering questions, decoding regulations, and planning camping and trail activities with guests. While she’s away from the front desk, she plans future interpretive programs, designs event flyers and Refuge signage and maintains the Facebook page, and a bunch of other stuff, too. In the winter, Leah catches her breath and starts planning for next summer.
5 Questions for Leah
1. What inspired you to work with young people?
I have always loved seeing that spark of excitement when a child gets inspired. I call it the "ah-ha" moment. I sought out opportunities during high school to volunteer at aquaria and zoos where I could help bring programs to children that connected them to the natural world. Inspiring them in turn inspires me, feeds me and makes me optimistic about our shared future.
2. What is your favorite part of working with kids?
My favorite part of working with kids is being able to use their native curiosity to engage them with their world. As we grow, become more educated and also more distracted, we can lose the curiosity that leads to experiences like lying down on the cool earth looking up through the forest canopy and pretending to be bugs. Kids are inclined to try this out. They have imaginations that connect them to the real world in remarkable ways. Adults become embarrassed at the thought of shouting out "Cool! Look at this!" on a trail walk. Kids don't have that fear, and that makes working with them truly incredible.