Thursday, January 9, 2014

The North Dakota Spirit

by Floyd Gardner

Retirement gave us an entirely new understanding of the word “independence.”  With the responsibility of children and a job lifted from our shoulders, RVing gave us a freedom we didn’t know existed - suddenly the entire continent was within our reach.  But we didn’t think about that when we bought our first RV.  We actually bought our first motor home to use for work rather than travel. 

After retiring from many years of public service positions my wife and I found a retirement job that required us to travel a great deal. We worked for a company that brokered health screening assignments for big box stores nationwide.  Travelling by air with equipment and supplies proved taxing for us and we often found the hotels near the workplaces to be less than desirable.  It soon became clear that working from a RV would be the easiest way to carry a lot of supplies and move every couple days from one city to another. 

We found a Class C with huge storage space to be the perfect solution, and we settled into work related travel that often kept us on the road for weeks at a time.  This was an exciting and interesting job and we loved it, but after a seven year run the chain in which we worked reached its goals and decided to discontinue the free screening clinics. 

Worried that we would have a very hard time to make the payments on our RV without additional income, we began to look for ways to find RV related jobs. Someone told us about Workampers and we joined.  Life got better almost immediately.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Coming to Fort Lincoln

Coming to Fort Lincoln

By Matt Schanandore

In a world where information travels the globe at the speed of light, and our finger tips are the magic wands of our mind, sorting, swiping, and scrolling through an endless universe of information. we still find the need and an interest to see, touch and experience the stories of the past and present for ourselves.  
There is so much about what we do as interpreters that is part of human nature, but yet can be so foreign to many. I am an interpreter, and to describe our line of work, as my grandmother would say, we are simply storytellers. “We tell stories to remember and learn from the days that have passed and to plan for the days in our future.” We naturally tell stories about us, from a little tike, to an old age withered senior, we enjoy recounting our past and educating the future.  Many cannot take another’s past and tell it as their own. That is where an interpreter comes in, we tell stories about others. 

Our stories our not made up fantasies taking place on a distant planet, but rather in our own backyard. Our stories do justice to those people that lived before us and helped shape the human story. We tell about love, friendship, loss, and about life as a family. The characters in our stories sometimes are truly the birds and the bees. We explain steps of life, death, and living life in harmony with nature, we talk about relationships good and bad, and every story contains a little about our own life, and world. Our stories are about the world we see, the world we can touch, the world we can experience. That is Interpretation. 

Today, I sat atop the large earthlodge at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. It is by far my favorite place to sit looking out over the south end of the On-A-Slant Village and down to the Missouri River.  I’ve been walking this village for many years now telling its story, as a young man now looking back, that was a lot longer than I would have ever expected. I’ve realized long ago that there is something about this place that continues to comfort me. Maybe it is the peace that one can experience as the warm rays of the sun’s light overtake the park in the morning. It could be the many people we meet in a summer traveling from many different places, places that I may travel to someday. I think most of my staff feels that they also have stayed a lot longer than they expected, maybe it could be something in the water. We will never know. 

I have stayed because of the chance I get to interpret the story of people that have lived here, their lives and marks left behind on this place. Something, I think we all desire to do in our own lives. Whether we were simple farmers like the Mandan or like General Custer a legend to generations past and present, we all hope that, we to, will be remembered for our role in the human story. As interpreters we leave our mark on every visitor we greet, every visitor we get to know, and each visitor that comes to experience a true story. In the end our job is never done, it just closes for the season. 

This year the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department welcomed my staff and me into its family. It’s been a smooth transition one that will take time as we venture forward on the same path together, but the future is very bright. I’m amazed looking back on the changes that this park has seen, from the early caretakers, the Mandan Indians to General Custer and his famous Seventh Cavalry, to the Civilian Conservation Corps, to the North Dakota Historical Society, to the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation, and most recently the baton was handed fully to the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department. Each group having been stewards of the land and its story: each leaving behind something that will carry the park’s story forward. They all had a reason to be part of this place and they all became part of its story. Now starts the next segment in its story.  

The story of Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is one that will never end it will always continue to go forward, forming new relationships and forging new beginnings.  As the current caretakers grow old and leave this place so will come a new generation of individuals looking to interpret the story of this place and they will continue their work as so many have been doing for centuries. 

I tell me staff “This is our story, not just a story of old or a story of new, but a story worth telling over and over again.” This is a quite place along the river once called Miti-Ba-wa-esh, Fort Abraham Lincoln D.T., and now Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, but has forever been called…home.

Come, Visit, and be part of the story of Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sports shows indicate it will be a busy year

Gordon Weixel
Public Information Officer
The message is clear, it’s been a long winter and people are itchin’ to get outside and have a good time, whether it be camping, fishing, hiking, biking, or you name it… North Dakota’s state parks are going to be busy this year.

At least that’s my takeaway following the completion of the recently completed outdoor sports shows held in Bismarck, Grand Forks, Minot and Williston. If you had a chance to take in one of these shows and stopped by the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department booth you possibly talked to me or one of the park staff that helped out that included Grahams Island manager Henry Duray, Turtle River manager Steve Crandall, newly appointed Fort Stevenson manager Chad Trautman, Lewis and Clark manager Greg Corcoran and rangers Keith Orth, Dan Ryba and Ryan Nelson.

My first indication it’s going to be a good year were the number of annual vehicle passes that were sold at the shows. In the past there have been requests for between 30 or 40 passes. This year over 30 were sold at Minot alone, and all told, nearly 60 were sold.

Another tell that it’s going to be a good year for park visitation, were the number of materials that were given out at the booths. I usually take enough stuff and a lot comes back to headquarters in Bismarck. But this year there wasn’t much that came back, in fact, packing up was fairly easy. 

People were particularly interested in the hiking guides and the brochure on the new Pembina Gorge motorized trail. Trails for off-highway vehicles on public land are few and far between in North Dakota, and over the past few years popularity of ATVs has seen a tremendous growth. In response to the growing demand, the NDPRD created the Pembina Gorge trail which held its grand opening last year. The 12-mile trail, which is available to OHVs, will be doubled this year with an additional 12 miles scheduled to be created this spring.

At each show the NDPRD held a drawing for those visiting the booth and filling out an entry with name, address, phone and email. This year’s winners were Debra Ludwig (Williston), Shane Lider (Minot), Craig Sharp (Grand Forks) and Lucilda Herman (Bismarck). The NDPRD appreciates all those that stopped by and filled out entry forms.

This year the Minot KX Sports Show was far and away the busiest, as it usually is. This year the Minot Show offered the “Dock Dogs” competition which was a great draw. The Bismarck Tribune Sports Show also held Dock Dogs, for the third year, and it was among the best shows in several years. The Grand Forks Men’s Show had a very busy Saturday as did The Williston Sports and Recreation Show.  Hopefully, next year each show will be even bigger and better, and you can be sure the NDPRD will be represented.
Gordon Weixel

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The 5 W's (and one H) of Summer Employment

By Stacy High - Administrative Assistant

Who: You! Do you want to work outdoors this summer? Do you want to have fun while earning money? Consider a summer position at one of North Dakota’s state parks!

What: State Parks are looking for seasonal administrative assistants, maintenance personnel, park attendants, interpreters/historians and park rangers.
Where: North Dakota State Parks which are located across the state and there’s sure to be one close to you.

Why: North Dakota Parks and Recreation is a great place to work!
Stacy High-
Administrative Assistant

When: Applications are now being accepted.  
How: Job applications and more information can be found at:   Applications should be sent directly to the parks you are interested in working at.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Snow Science

by Amy Schimetz - Interpreter and Lake Metigoshe Outdoor Learning Center Coordinator

People often look outside in the winter and simply comment, whether good or bad, on the snow.  However, many don’t give much thought what snow is made of, how it’s made or why there are both large and small flakes.  The science behind snow is fascinating.

Snowflakes are made of ice crystals forming around tiny bits of dirt that were carried up into the atmosphere by wind.  When the dirt particles reach clouds where temperatures are below freezing, ice crystals form around them and create snowflakes. Each snowflake is six-sided because of the shape and bonding of water molecules.  A snowflake can be made from as many as 200 ice crystals. As the snow crystals grow, they become heavier and fall toward the ground.

It is said that no two snowflakes are alike, but they can be classified into types of crystals: needles, columns, plates, columns capped with plates, dendrites and stars.  The type of crystal depends upon humidity and temperature present during formation.  That’s why when it’s very cold and snowing, the flakes are small and when it’s closer to 32 degrees, the flakes are larger. 
Amy Schimetz-Interpreter
Take a closer look to see if you can classify some snowflakes.  Since they melt so quickly you need to freeze a dark piece of paper or cloth by leaving it outside for several minutes. Put some snowflakes on the dark surface and examine them, perhaps with a magnifier. Don't expect to easily find a perfect six-sided snowflake. They occur less than 25 percent of the time because snowflakes have a bumpy, difficult journey on their way to earth. Each flake is buffeted by wind, water and other snowflakes. However, with persistence you'll see some beautiful examples.