Friday, 09 August 2019 19:18

Adios, Alaska

The time to say goodbye has come. I purposively decided to write this blog at the end of my internship. I must admit, I am sad that this experience is ending. When it first started, I wanted time to pass me by, but now I wish I could stop time, allowing me to continue to enjoy the scenery and friends I made. It has been an amazing opportunity to get to experience of the inner and outer workings of the park service. It has been amazing to visit Alaska and have time to discover who I was as an individual. I came in with a vague idea of what my values and aspirations were, but I am leaving with an understanding that I am worth it, and that I can create change.

(All the LHIP interns) 

(Our little crew) 

To wish me farewell, my team gathered at a Thai restaurant. We all reminisced about how time flew by this summer and remembered all the great things we did together. We played pool until the middle of the night and walked down to the harbor to watch the salmon run. This week I also made my way to Washington, D.C. and it was my first time on that side of the world. I was excited to stand where history was once made. However, what I could not imagine, was the amazing individuals that I would end up meeting. It was inspiring to be surrounded by a community that had the same aspirations, drive, and motivation as myself. It was beautiful to experience sadness, happiness, anxiety, and fun together as a group. It was incredible to meet others who I just clicked with immediately. Although I am sad that I am back in Los Angeles, the one thing I learned from the conference is that we need to be the go-getters. We need to take initiative and make things happen. We will keep the community alive, despite all of us residing throughout different parts of the United States. This is an experience that I will remember for my entire life. I do not know what is in store for me now, but that is okay. One day, I hope to re-read this blog and see how much I have grown.

(The hero! One day I will live in D.C.) 

Shout out to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (Skagway), Environment for the Americas, Hispanic Access and Latino Heritage Internship programs for a once in a lifetime opportunity! To everyone who supported me when I was feeling down during this journey, thank you. The cycle ends with me and the time to make a difference starts now.

(Representing KLGO and LHIP in the Department of the Interior)

Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 09 August 2019 18:23

The Chilkoot Trail

What is going on everyone?! There are only two weeks left of my internship. I am extremely sad that it is coming to an end. The people have been amazing. The scenery has been amazing. The work has been amazing. Part of my park experience is to backpack the Chilkoot Trail to get a better understanding of the tremendous journey prospectors undertook for hope at a better life. At first, I was skeptical of doing it. I have never backpacked in my life and I did not think I was made for it. I doubted my ability to hike and my ability to survive in the wilderness. The day before we left, I almost requested not to participate, but then how was I supposed to grow if I did not push beyond my comfort?

(On my way to the top) 

(View of Deep lake) 

(Crater lake) 

(View of lake Bennet) 

Four days later and I am extremely grateful that I decided to backpack the Chilkoot Trail. The hike was beautiful. Me and Devon were carrying 30+ pound packs and still completed the hike without any incident. I met an amazing Canadian family who kept motivating us to finish and change the world. After hiking the Chilkoot Trail, I emerged as an individual who was empowered. I learned that all my life I have feared “no.” I never pushed myself outside of my comfort zone because I was scared to be considered a “failure.” Coming to this internship was the first step in breaking that cycle in order to ensure that my community will not have to go throw what I did. For now, enjoy the pictures. Next time you will hear from me, I will be in Washington, D.C.

Published in EFTA intern blog
Thursday, 01 August 2019 19:07

Latino Conservation Week

What’s going on everyone! My time here in the KLGO is coming to end. I have about 3 weeks left, but there are a lot great things coming up. The last couple of weeks have been about organizing Latino Conservation Week events. Sticking to our motto of “go big or go home” the social media team and I developed and implemented a social media campaign. The purpose of the campaign was to increase awareness of Latino Conservation Week and its importance. My supervisors and I created a partnership with Alaska Geographic to raise awareness of the Every Kid In A Park initiative. Additionally, we created a photo booth opportunity for everyone to take pictures and provided information on World Migratory bird day. The event was a success. In the KLGO we developed the state of Alaska’s only multi day Latino Conservation Week event. The social media campaign brought a lot of responses from the Facebook community. It created a platform for others to understand a facet of Latinos relationship with nature, and allowed Latinos in Skagway (about 5% according to the Census) to build solidarity. You can check out our first post here.

(Latino Conservation Week Kicks off)

(Latino Conservation Week Posing) 

Outside of work I went with one of my housemates to buy fresh caught salmon. We made our way to the small boat harbor and bought 2 whole salmon from a fisherman. Then we had to figure out how to filet them, but thankfully we found an entrepreneur offering his services. Let me tell you. It was delicious. Sadly, salmon will never be the same back in Los Angeles anymore. Alright everyone stay tune for more Shenanigans. 

(Buying the salmon)

(Filet the salmon) 

(Eating the salmon) 

 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Thursday, 01 August 2019 17:53

New Adventures

What’s going on everyone! I hope everyone reading this is having an amazing day. A recap on my week. The KLGO had Susan Bonfield come visit the park. She is the Director of Environment for the Americas. She came to one of my historical walking tours. At the end, she treated both me and Katlyn (Mosaic intern) to lunch. It was an amazing chicken tender’s basket and a great conversation. After we went on a little hike to spot some birds, took pictures, and enjoyed sunny Skagway. Work wise I started my next LHIP project, which is to translate the Jr. Ranger Activity Booklet into Spanish for the Spanish speaking visitors of the park. I am excited to complete this task to foster more Spanish speakers and Latinos to become the next generation of stewards.

(Really amazing flower made out of glass)

Personally, I attended the Rhubarb festival. I tried a Rhubarb pie for the first time. That thing was super sour. I tried it, but it was not my thing. It was interesting to see people compete to determine the winner of the biggest rhubarb plant. Also, I challenged myself to hike AB mountain. This is a 12-mile hike that goes up to 5,000 feet. Let me tell you. It was exhausting, but I pushed myself to the summit. The summit was filled with mosquitos that practically ate me alive, but nonetheless, I conquered the mountain. It was also the fourth of July. Back in Los Angeles, we celebrate fourth of July because it brings families together. Being away from home for the first time during this holiday was kind of hard. I felt like I did not belong being out in the parade because I do not look like a typical “American.” Nonetheless, I went out there and pushed past the discomfort to see how others celebrated their independence.

(Independence Day in the KLGO) 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Thursday, 01 August 2019 17:46

Legacies

What’s going on everyone! Excuse me for the hiatus, but things in the KLGO have been hectic in a good way. I’ve been focusing on developing a historical tour that focuses on the “Women of the Klondike.” Remember our motto is “Go Big or Go Home,” therefore, I titled my program “Nasty Women.” This is a political statement, and one that gives a voice to the voices the Victorian era silenced. My walking tour focuses on how actions are acts of resistance. For example, 3,000 women made the journey up north for the thrill, the adventure, the hope of a better life, and to challenge societal norms. Y’all in the mood for a quick history lesson? Yes, good. So, Ma Pullen became one of the most influential and richest woman of the Klondike. She was a mother of 3, who came with only $7 in her pocket. However, she knew how to do two things well. She knew how to cook, but most importantly, she knew how to handle horses. She eventually ended up working for Captain Moore (builder of the White Pass Trail) and he supplemented her income with apples. So, she began making apple pies, which gave her enough money to eventually construct one of the most luxuries hotels in the state of Alaska. What is her legacy now? She has the Pullen Creek named after her in Skagway and a beautiful example of entrepreneurship. 

(Canadian Art)  

On a personal note. Other interns and I made our way to Whitehorse, Canada. We got to explore Parks Canada S.S. Klondike Gold Rush museum. We got to enjoy that good old Canadian McDonalds as well. We got the Fish and Chips combo. It was amazing! We got to explore the parks and enjoy the sunshine. Skip rocks on the lake. Well, I tried to skip rocks because apparently, I am not very good at it. It was also the week of the Summer Solstice, which means the sun won’t be setting. Got to experience the Skagway bands and played a little soccer to get the blood flowing. With my fellow coworkers, we went on amazing hikes in the Tonga’s forest and grilled up some meals. Alright y’all stay tune for more Edgar Shenanigans coming up.

(Tongas Forest outlook) 

(After hike delicacies) 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Tuesday, 02 July 2019 19:27

Go Big or Go Home

What is going on everyone! Let’s give a shout out to the weather. The weather changes within minutes here in Alaska. You wake up with the sun shining bright in the sky, and you decide to go out in shorts and a t-shirt. However, you return drenched in water because it’s raining. But back to business. Our model here in the KLGO (Klondike Goldrush) is “go big or go home,” and this was the week to show up. After two weeks of “prep” time it was time to implement our interpretation programs to the public. I was super nervous and to make things even more nerve wrecking I had a full house. Thankfully, I have an extremely dedicated, committed, and supportive team that told me it was my time to show up. So, I went out there and did what I had to do to ensure that our visitors left our park satisfied and knowledgeable of our history.  

The second highlight of the week was my weekend outings. Born and raised in Los Angeles I really did not go out much. One of my goals is to get comfortable with nature and bears. So, a co-worker and I went to hike International Falls in Canada. The scenery was beautiful. You are hiking on open valleys and all you hear are the echoes of birds singing. It was a beautiful experience I will never forget. To get to the trail we had to cross a river that was about knee deep. This river was glacial runoff. So, let me tell you the water was sooooooooooo cold!! My legs were literally shaking and in pain after spending two minutes in the river. Eventually we hiked to an altitude of who knows what that we started crossing frozen rivers and slipping on snow. Overall, it was a great experience, but the worst part about coming back was crossing the river again. That is all for today folks tune in next week for more Edgar Shenanigans. Enjoy the beauty in the pictures below. Bye.

(Taking a moment to snap the beauty of the river that made my feet shake) 

(Hiking the valley)

 

 (Check out the mountains in the backdrop) 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 28 June 2019 19:31

They Say it's "WILD"!

What’s going on everyone! My name is Edgar Hernandez. This summer I will be the Interpretive and Outreach Intern representing the Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP) at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska.

I am from the Pico-Union neighborhood in the outskirts of Downtown, Los Angeles. Interesting facts about me: (1) I had a guinea pig for 8 years named squishy who I loved, (2) I played collegiate rugby, (3) I don’t know how to swim, (4) and I played the saxophone in a marching band. To be honest, growing up I did not know much about National Park Service (NPS) nor did I care. How could I care for something that I didn’t even know existed? I was more worried about not getting jumped on my way home and chasing the elotero (corn man). 

(Chasing dreams on small planes! Yikes) 

This was my third time applying to this program. Every rejection hurt and pushed me to do more (e.g., graduate degree and work experience), but here I am now in Alaska. My friends and I joke that it's "wild" that I am in Alaska. It seems unreal to me still. It seems unreal to see how beautiful the world is beyond the limits of the city I grew up in. So, I am here to learn and inspire the community that we from the “hood” can make it too. I am excited to be mentored by NPS staff and use my research background to develop programs that are accessible to those who do not have the resources to experience the beauty of the world. Until then like my mom and dad say “echale ganas si puedes” (keep going, you can do it) will be model. Tune in next week everyone so I can tell you all about my first week of training and more awesome pictures!! 

(Kitchen views at its finest) 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 28 June 2019 18:56

The Future Is Bear

What’s going on everyone! A lot of great things happened this week. First, let’s pay our respects to the bears. This week in the KLGO we had our first bear advisory go into effect. We were advised not to hike on our own as there were reports of bears being too friendly with humans. I have yet to see a bear. I’m still on the fence on whether I want to see one though.

Back to the good stuff. It was my first week working the line. I staffed the Visitor Center and Junior Ranger Activity Center. In the KLGO we are the nation’s only park to have a JRAC housed in a historical saloon! The center allows children and those young at heart to complete hands on activities to learn the history of the town, and earn their Junior Ranger badge. For example, children learn words such as, perseverance, bravery, entrepreneur, luck, and heritage. They are asked questions like “what does bravery mean to you? And “tell me a time when you were brave?” Then we provide interpretation on how gold prospectors embodied the chosen theme. I love working with children so it is heartwarming to see children play dress up, and see their eyes light up as they take the oath to become Junior Rangers.

Also, it was a week of a lot of what we call “prep time.” Basically reading, researching, and putting together interpretation programs to teach visitors about the Klondike Gold Rush. Do you all want to learn something interesting? Well you have no choice. One thing we don’t talk about in regards to the Gold Rush is how the media played a role in creating a mass migration to the Yukon. So, let me tell you. The Quaker Company (oatmeal) started selling cereal boxes that contained a 1-square inch certificate of land in the gold fields. However, it was all scam because the certificates were never validated by the company. To date, this is one of the most successful business strategies in North America. Now, Seattle invested millions of dollars to create an 8-page special “Klondike Editorial” that was sent to all public libraries in the United States to attract gold prospectors to the Yukon. These are just a few examples of the many that exist. But, I want you to think about the push and pull factors that influence migrations in our current time.

(Me enjoying the sun on a hammock)

Personally, it was my three-day weekend. I spent a lot of time at the gym. I sat on a hammock and enjoyed the sun. The KLGO family hosted a Saturday pot luck. Let me tell you. I was so full that day. I loved it. The food was delicious, beautiful and homemade. (Picture below). The people were great. I also found out about hamburger nights. Every Wednesday a church feeds the whole town burgers and hot dogs. If there is food I am there. Alright for now, that is all, but stay tune next week for more Edgar shenanigans.

Published in EFTA intern blog
Wednesday, 12 June 2019 19:28

Week of Many Firsts.

Hello everyone! I just completed my second week in the KLGO. It was a week of many firsts. We completed our first week of training and we learned all about audience center techniques to allow visitors to connect with history on a personal level. We visited the trailhead for the infamous Chilkoot trail. This was a trail that was used by the goldseekers to reach the Gold fields in Dawson City (i.e., Canada). The trail is 33 miles long, however, because goldseekers were freezing to death, dying of starvation, and disease. The Canadian Government implemented the Ton of Goods law. This required goldseekers to carry 3 pounds of food per day for one year plus equipment. If you are reading this. Can you carry 2,000 pounds up a mountain on one trip? Most likely no, but if you do, write your info in the comments. I would like to meet you!. Back to history, goldseekers on average hiked over 2,000 miles just to transport their goods through the Chilkoot Trail. 

(Other KLGO Interns and I posing in the start of the Chilkoot Trail)

Also, we visited the Gold Rush Cemetery for the first time. We learned the history of famous con man and mysterious unsolved murders that occurred in Skagway. We visited a place called Reid falls and the remains of the only documented pirate boat in Skagway. We also visited the ghost town of Dyea. However, what stood out to me the most was visiting the grocery store for the first time. I’m from Los Angeles where grocery stores are food heaven. I was shocked when I went to the grocery store and the shelves were empty. There was one beautiful green bell pepper that cost 5 dollars. My mind was blown away. But being me I asked the butcher: “where is the chicken?” He was like “there is no more chicken. You have to wait until the barge comes in on Tuesday.” So, for y’all reading Skagway, Alaska is a remote area that gets its food shipment deliver every Tuesday. When I go back home it’s going to be pretty cool to say “yeah, I lived in an area were the food came in on Tuesday’s and if you got sick you had to get medevac out.”

(Remains of the once booming Dyea town) 

Other than that, everything is going swell. I am making friends. I entered my first egg roulade competition to win 50 bucks, but ended up losing in the first round and had a bunch of egg juices on my cloth. I went on my first hike with a fellow co-worker. I accomplished all 7 miles uphill. To be honest, I was scared, but I pushed myself to complete it. I also attended a “hood nights of horror” and watched Pet Sematary and ate a bunch of cookies. So, all is good. Stay tune for more tales from the hood of Skagway, Alaska. Bye.

(view of Upper Dewey Lake after an intense 2 hour uphill hike. Worth it!) 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Wednesday, 15 May 2019 14:25

Edgar Hernandez

I was born and raised in the Pico-Union Neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. I am the son of two undocumented immigrants who came to the United States for a better life. As a child, I witnessed the lives of youth and of my community go to waste due to violence, addiction, and poverty. Growing up, I was a hopeless child, until the day I witnessed the murder of a 16-year-old. That pushed me to break societal norms. I now hold a Master’s of Arts in Applied Anthropology from California State University, Long Beach. I am an Applied Anthropologist who has been part of multiple longitudinal studies ranging from childcare providers to gang members. I am a tireless advocate for students in the Pico-Union Neighborhood and the chair of the Youth Committee for the Pico-Union Neighborhood Council. Currently, I am working as a substance abuse counselor with the homeless and incarcerated population of Los Angeles County.

Published in Intern Bios