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National Junior Ranger Day at Fire Island National Seashore

Fire Island National Seashore

National Park News

On April 24, 2010, Fire Island National Seashore celebrated National Junior Ranger Day at the Fire Island Lighthouse. More than 300 children and their parents or scout leaders enjoyed a variety of activities and earned several Junior Ranger badges and patches during this afternoon-long event. Nautical crafts, decoy carving, “Sampling with a Scientist,” lighthouse museum exhibits and tower tours were available all afternoon. Ranger-guided programs included "Discovering the Ocean," "Basic Nature Photography," and "Animal Tracking." Staff from Sagamore Hill National Historic Site presented their Junior Ranger activities, too.

Fire Island National Seashore staff distributed copies of their Basic and Advanced Junior Ranger workbooks, and several subject-specific workbooks. While at the Keepers' Quarters Museum, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts were able to complete a maritime history worksheet, qualifying their purchase of a Fire Island Lighthouse special interest patch.

Fire Island National Seashore has an active Junior Ranger program, with booklets to complete independently, and ranger-guided programs to help participants learn more about both nature and history, and the recreational and inspirational values of this special place. Some Fire Island National Seashore Junior Ranger activity booklets can be completed in a single day, while other booklets may require multiple visits or more research.

Copies of Fire Island National Seashore's basic 16-page "Junior Ranger Activity Booklet: Learning All About Fire Island National Seashore," can be obtained at each of the park’s visitor contact stations. Geared for children from ages 8 through 12, this booklet was designed to be completed on-site. With a little effort, it can even be done in a single day's visit. Activities include a visitor center treasure hunt, Sunken Forest wildlife word search, recreation crossword puzzle, safety exercise, and more. When the booklet is successfully completed and returned to a visitor center ranger, kids may choose either a Fire Island National Seashore Junior Ranger patch or badge.

An Advanced Junior Ranger bar can be added upon completion of the 24-page Advanced Junior Ranger Activity Booklet, created for ages 13 and up. One of the requirements of "Learning All About Fire Island National Seashore: Advanced" is to attend a ranger-led program. The Seashore offers a balance of recreational and educational programs for individuals, families, and groups. Most programs are free, but program fees are charged by some of the park's partners, like the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society, or for special events.

Junior Ranger booklets are available at the Wilderness, Watch Hill, and Sailors Haven visitor centers, and at the Fire Island Lighthouse, the Patchogue Ferry Terminal and the William Floyd Estate. The Fire Island Lighthouse and Wilderness Visitor Center are open year-round, while other sites are open seasonally.

Fire Island’s current suite of Junior Ranger booklets was launched in 2004/05 with the help of the Friends of Fire Island National Seashore through donations made to the Dave Spirtes Memorial Fund; reprints have been funded through the National Park Foundation. Eastern National provided funding for Fire Island’s Junior Ranger patch. Additional booklets have been created through a variety of grants and funding sources. Since the park has so many returning visitors, park interpretive staff and park management felt that a single booklet was not adequate to help young people and their families explore all facets of Fire Island National Seashore.

Other Fire Island Junior Ranger activity booklets include “Orienteering,” which was created for National Junior Ranger Day 2007. "Bernie the Boater," created in 2008 through a National Park Service Ocean Stewardship Grant, is a workbook about boating safety and protecting the marine environment, with a colorful pin as the reward for completing the booklet. "Oh Deer! Tracks to Facts" provides an entertaining way to learn more about Fire Island's most noticeable mammal, the white-tailed deer. After completing this 16-page booklet, kids earn their "Help Keep 'em Wild—Don't Feed the Deer" pin.

Last year, Fire Island National Seashore successfully competed for a National Junior Ranger Ambassador grant. Student Conservation Association (SCA) intern Amanda Pachomski was brought aboard to create a new Junior Ranger booklet for ages 5 – 7. “Amanda developed the content last summer,” said Irene Rosen, the park’s lead interpreter, “and we expect to field-test it this summer, before we have the booklet printed.” Fire Island is the recipient of another Junior Ranger Ambassador this summer. “After a week of training with Junior Ranger Ambassadors from around the country, SCA intern Cameron Etienne from the University of Maryland will develop a Junior Ranger web page for us,” stated Rosen. In addition to the inventory of booklets, Fire Island National Seashore offers a weekly "Junior Ranger, Path to Discovery" program at each visitor contact facility in July and August. Other children’s programs are offered throughout the year. “Junior Ranger activities are a great way for children of all ages to learn about Fire Island National Seashore’s diverse and complex resources,” stated FIIS Superintendent Chris Soller, “We encourage all park visitors, including folks staying in the Fire Island communities, to participate in and take advantage of our varied Junior Ranger activities.”

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