May – Aug 2017
This was a US Fish & Wildlife Interpretive Host position that was a partnership with Oregon State Parks. We were given a host site, with full hookups, at Harris Beach State Park. Our commitment was 22 hours a week each; four five-hour shifts (Thurs-Sun) on the deck overlooking the water, where we set up scopes and helped visitors see and understand the Harbor Seals, Black Oystercatchers, Brown Pelicans, and other marine mammals and birds. To “pay” our park rent, we taught one Junior Ranger class a week (on Friday) and did a program or nature walk each Friday night. The park and US F&W had canned programs, but I used our Seals and Sea Lion Powerpoint program that I’ve been giving for the last few years. Brenda and I also led a “walk the park” tour on alternate Fridays – we walked the nature trails, pointed out the different plants and trees, and ended up at a viewpoint where on a good day we could see St Georges lighthouse in the distance.
The park manager and interpretive host were great to work with. We were treated like park staff although we were known as the “bird hosts”. They were especially kind when Brenda had her unexpected heart surgery. We were under no pressure to get back and resume activities, and they all stopped by to see how Brenda was doing. The other volunteers were like a family; we met for breakfast once a week and made lasting friendships.
Our host site as very nice – paved, landscaped, and with a number of coveted Huckleberry bushes. The only problem was that the site was tree covered, and I had to use nearly 100 feet of cable to set up the satellite dish in small clearing.
Brookings is a town of about 6000, with some good restaurants, but limited shopping. The only true grocery store is the Fred Meyer, with inflated prices. There’s a large hardware store and a Wal-Mart in Crescent City, 35 miles south in California.
Our stay was cut a bit short by the huge wildfire that came close enough to rain ash on the park, fill the air with smoke, and have everyone alerted to a possible evacuation. Our US F&W volunteer coordinator, always taking care of us, told us to evacuate to a commercial park in Bandon where they’d arranged a free site for us.
We enjoyed our time here. We made new friends, learned new subjects, and experienced the joy of teaching children What could be better?