One of the most heavily used and difficult sections of the Appalachian Trail is the 100-mile stretch through the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. When the park was presented with the opportunity for a Teacher-Ranger-Teacher, the pieces fell together with an interested and highly experienced teacher in New Hampshire and a national forest seeking assistance for improved visitor services.
"I would like to thank the National Park Service for this tremendous opportunity to have a Teacher-Ranger-Teacher educating visitors about the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the resources it travels through,” said Clare Long, conservation education specialist for the White Mountain National Forest. “It has been a huge success and the leadership on the district and the forest see this collaborative effort as a model for future efforts between the two agencies."
Jennifer Molton, a third grade teacher from New Boston Elementary School in New Hampshire, was selected for the position. Jen is a thru-hiker of the AT and alumni of our successful “Trail to Every Classroom” professional development program where she created curriculum to engage students on the trail. As a Teacher-Ranger-Teacher, she quickly became a vital part of the visitor services and conservation education programs for the Appalachian Trail on the White Mountain National Forest. Her ability to connect with visitors and to understand visitors’ needs and her commitment to trying to provide the best possible experience without compromising personal safety or the health of the resource were skills we would want future TRT's to be aware of if not possess.
The White Mountain National Forest receives over 6 million visitors a year and Jen's presence highlighting the Appalachian Trail, hiking and trails, and awareness of the resource were vital to visitor and agency success. Jen was featured on local television talking about the Appalachian Trail and local residents responded how they hadn't ever really known that the Appalachian Trail went through "their" backyard and that it was a unit of the National Park Service.
Here is a link (below) to an interview conducted by a local TV station in North Conway, New Hampshire.