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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

KENAI: Refuge's Student Rangers Rock!

Region 7, October 6, 2012
SCEP Ranger Leah Eskelin and Campground Host Wanda Davis partner to lead Kenai NWR's Jr. Ranger Program
SCEP Ranger Leah Eskelin and Campground Host Wanda Davis partner to lead Kenai NWR's Jr. Ranger Program - Photo Credit: n/a

This summer, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge's three student rangers were instrumental in leading environmental education and interpretation programs, operating visitor facilities, supporting campground operations, and accomplishing field projects. Their enthusiastic efforts provided excellent service to our visitors.  The three students were hired through two employment programs, the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP), and the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). Some highlights from the work of our young rangers include:

Summer Camps – STEP Ranger Kendra Bush acted as the co-leader for Refuge summer camp programs – Critter Camp for 2nd/3rd graders and Get Out & Get Dirty for 4th/5th graders. These camp sessions had kids outdoors 99% of the time learning about forest and wetlands wildlife, developing outdoor technical skills including the use of digital cameras and GPS units, and creating nature art and field journals.

Interpretation Programs – From fitness hikes to preschool and family programs, our STEP Rangers Kahlia McDermott-Johnston, Janine Ray, and Kelsey White helped visitors learn about the wildlife and natural history of the Refuge in fun, creative ways. They promoted self guided kid’s programs in the Visitor Center including our popular Jr. Explorer Program. Our campground hosts, George and Wanda Davis, led our Jr. Ranger Program at Hidden Lake Campground with the assistance of our STEP Rangers and SCEP Ranger, Leah Eskelin.

SCEP Ranger Leah Eskelin organized and led the work of Campground Hosts and STEP Rangers keeping interpretation and field programs running smoothly during a very busy summer season. She also created and presented her own interpretation programs including the new Family Explorer Program on the Keen Eye Nature Trail and the well-regarded Ranger Talk Program at Hidden Lake Campground.

STEP and SCEP Rangers are a vital part of our Refuge Information & Education Program. This year’s STEP and SCEP Rangers accomplished excellent work and due to their high level of performance were converted to the new Pathways Program. We look forward to their continuing efforts next summer and embrace their new ideas and future creative efforts.

Contact Info: Candace Ward, 907-262-7021, candace_ward@fws.gov