Posted by: csdailyblog | September 2, 2010

Alaskan Wilderness Ranger Speaks to Conserve Students

Katelyn Rennicke, U.S. Forest Service Ranger

Many Conserve students dream of the Alaskan wild, of flying in float planes, of traveling by kayak for weeks at a time encountering grizzly bears, whales, and moose. On September 1st they had the chance to listen to the stories and to speak to someone not much older than themselves who is doing just that.

The photos show Katelyn kayaking at Misty Fjords National Monument in Alaska.

Katelyn Rennicke, the 21 year-old daughter of Conserve employees Jeff and Jill Rennicke, recently worked as a wilderness ranger in Alaska’s Misty Fjord National Monument. She spoke to the combined students of Jeff Rennicke’s “Wilderness Voices” class and Michael Salat’s “History of Wilderness Exploration” class. In the presentation, she spoke of the training necessary to work for the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska where she did recreational monitoring, participated in trail building projects, staffed a fishery station, and did interpretive talks at a bear viewing area. Out for up to 10 days at a time in one of the largest wilderness areas in the country, Katelyn stressed proper wilderness preparation and the mental toughness necessary to handle the severe weather and wilderness conditions. She also told students of her four-month program with the National Outdoor Leadership School in Baja, Mexico as well as her time spent working with the National Park Service in Alaska’s Denali National Park and as a wilderness sea kayaking guide in Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands. She told stories of  twice being chased by an angry moose, of paddling close to humpback whales, and of the rigors of a job in the wilderness. Noting that her own high school gave her few opportunities to get outside and gather wilderness skills, she stressed the importance of Conserve School’s field instruction program. “Get all the training you can,” she told the students, “take advantage of every certification and skill-building opportunity out there because somewhere down the line you are going to find yourself in a situation where you’ll need all the training you can get. It will make your time in the wilderness safer, more comfortable, and more fun. And, the more comfortable you are out there, the better you will be at your job.”  

With her presentation, a mixture of adventure stories and practical advice in seeking jobs in the outdoors, the students got a first-person glimpse at someone living out the dreams that brought many of them to Conserve School in the first place, and were assured that their own wilderness dreams could indeed come true, someday.

Photo and post by Conserve School English Teacher Jeff Rennicke

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