The Awesome Mountain Life Experience


Double rainbow, coming from grocery shopping on the way to Colter Bay, sweet first day!

Another of my travel adventures begins. This time I get to intern in one the most awesome parks in the U.S. I was so happy to be placed close to mountains, whereas in Texas you barely see anything sticking out of the ground.

My first couple of days here I met most of the people I’ll be working with. As I got picked up from the in-park airport, we passed a double rainbow – as in this couldn’t get any better! I spent the following days exploring the area around me – what I usually do when I move somewhere – and taking tons of pictures, plus attending the employee orientations.

Colter Bay, shot from a little peninsula by the area where I stay.

My main job as an SCA conservationist consists of bringing out the power of volunteerism. As a volunteer coordinator, along with my supervisor, I help organize projects for volunteers from a Tour Bus organization called Tauk. They have been co-working with the National Park Service for around 10 years. Most of the work that volunteers do consist of painting cabins, loading up branches, covering up trails with branches, and other projects that won’t take too much effort and time. Folks volunteer for about an hour and most volunteers are elderly, so we have to warn them about the elevation and other safety factors. Back in college, I am usually the one that volunteers, and now coordinating volunteers feels empowering in a way. While on the project, I can’t just supervise and watch, so I work along with the volunteers.

The truck full of branches loaded by our volunteers from Tauk.

An average day with the Tauk Volunteer program includes different tasks. I first wake up and try to get some food if I don’t snooze too much. After getting all dressed up, I visit my supervisor and start getting the reward shirts ready for the volunteers. After getting our gear together, we take off to the project site where we prepare the trailer or take out the paint equipment. As everything is in check, we head out to the place where the bus and the volunteers stay in. Either my supervisor or I give them an introduction to the project and a thanks for volunteering with the NPS. When we arrive at the project site, I get the gear ready for the volunteers as my supervisor talks to them a little more about the area and the project. The volunteers get rewarded at the end with the shirts and get a group photo sent to the Tauk website. The end is the best part! It makes me feel good to get people with a warm heart to volunteer with us and contribute towards conservation…preserving without obligation. Volunteering helps conserve the environment bit by bit but it can help in copious amounts. Conservation in today’s world should be part of a lifestyle. Our earth is our park in this universe.

Bearpaw lake, me and my co-workers’ first camping night at GTNP, keeping in mind it is bear country.

The benefit of choosing this internship is that I get to explore different departments in the NPS. When I had a talk with my main supervisor, I told her I was open and interested to do a wide variety of positions. From interpretation and research, to working with river/lake rangers and search and rescue. The thing about me is that I like learning. But, different from book learning, this is applied learning in the great outdoors. This kind of education is my key to enter the road in making a change in the world of conservation.

The moon is my favorite part of the night.

Stay tuned on my next blogs to hear about my other positions in the park!

Meanwhile, enjoy a few of my pictures from the great Grand Teton National Park.