When Mary Krauszer applied to become Point Defiance Park’s first park ranger in the park’s 128-year history, she outlined her plans to foster park stewardship and increase nature education within the park through a Junior Ranger Program.
Almost exactly one year later, Krauszer has seen her plan to fruition with an impeccably-designed junior ranger booklet and brag-worthy junior ranger pin, which mirrors the park ranger patch that adorns Krauzser’s own uniform (also of her own design).
The program is based off the well-known State and National Parks’ Junior Ranger programs that dominated Krauszer’s youth growing up in Alaska.
“I always loved the activity booklets that encouraged me to look closely at things in nature and experience a park in a new way,” she said. “Of course, in actually writing our activity booklet I did quite a bit of research on junior ranger programs at parks around the country, and then customized our program to fit the unique characteristics of Point Defiance Park and the mission of Metro Parks Tacoma overall.”
Within the 12-page activity booklet — written by Krauszer and designed by Kris Miskimens — children will learn the history of the 760-acre park and the wildlife that inhabits it, as well as healthy habits, conservation, and park stewardship.
Kids of all ages are encouraged to obtain a booklet from the Metro Parks’ website or from the park’s visitor’s center during normal hours of operation. From there, the program dictates that a minimum of six pages must be completed before returning the booklet to the visitor’s center. There park personnel will look over the work and ask the participant to recite the junior ranger pledge. Recipients of the pin will then be required to keep learning about the park while doing their part to protect it.
In the few weeks since the program began, Krauszer said she is proud to have seen a wealth of participation from the local community as droves participants have been journeying to the park specifically to participate.
“I feel honored to have the opportunity to bring junior ranger activities to our visitors,” she said. “Having a Junior Ranger program in such an accessible urban park brings a powerful park experience closer to home for visitors who may be unable to travel state or national parks, and connects visitors to their hometown park in a new way.”
The Point Defiance Park Visitor’s Center hours are Friday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day. For more information about Point Defiance Park or the Junior Ranger program, visit Metro Parks online.