Summer Evening Programs at the SNRA

The summers in the Sawtooth NRA are always buzzing with campers, and this year was no exception. From June to August the visitor center saw about 3,400 visitors and so many more recreating in the forest. Working at the front desk, I got to meet and help so many different visitors from all over the world. One of my favorite parts of my job this summer was providing the Wood River Campground with weekly evening programs.

I have never given an evening program, so I proceeded with this task with nerves, but overall excitement. First, I began to learn and better understand exactly what interpretation is. Interpretation focuses on connecting with your audience and teaching with stories instead of relying solely on facts. Here at the SNRA, we try to lead interpretive programs so the audience comes out caring about the wilderness we are trying to protect.   

Next, I was able to pick out my own topics for the programs, mixing my own interests with the flora and fauna of the SNRA. I researched, planned, and gave a total of 7 programs this summer. My topics ranged from an introductory bird walk, a look into the inner workings of a wolf pack, and the return of the magnificent salmon to the SNRA. I had so much fun researching for my programs, and I learned so much more about my topics as well. Keeping in mind the diverse audience at the Wood River Campground, I created an outline full of interactive questions and activities that would be fun for all ages.

Before a program, I rehearsed my outline a few times and gathered all my interpretive materials. I brought along skins and skulls, puppets, salmon eggs and posters to help me tell my story. It was so fun to give each program! Some programs were small and turned into a conversation about the importance of keystone species. Other programs had a huge turnout. Those ended in a fun game of jeopardy with salmon facts, or a bird walk (we saw an American Dipper!). Even though I was nervous before each program, I quickly got lost in the conversations and questions with the audience.

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