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After launching an interpretive ranger program, Wyoming State Parks are expanding offerings in 2023

Wyoming State Park Interpretive Rangers Angelina Stancampiano, left, and Linley Mayer, right, during a recent event at Guernsey State Park.
WYO Parks
Wyoming State Park Interpretive Rangers Angelina Stancampiano, left, and Linley Mayer, right, during a recent event at Guernsey State Park.

WYO Parks, which manages state parks and historic sites, is expanding their interpretive ranger program this year. This comes after a successful first expansion last year. WYO Parks decided to offer more programs as more visitors have taken to the outdoors during the pandemic.

“What we like to do is create additional opportunities for people to better connect with and appreciate and enjoy these natural places, whether they're parks or historic sites,” said Angelina Stancampiano, an interpretive ranger for the Shoshone district of WYO Parks.

The programs, which include both indoor and outdoor components, are intended to give more depth to visitors and enhance their time at a park or historic site.

“By creating digital content to give insight, especially to artifacts or behind the scenes, things during the wintertime, or create hiking opportunities, campfire programs, we even did a series of outdoor weekends, so camp out experiences. A lot of times it's people who already enjoy the outdoors, but maybe are looking for that next level of connection.”

These programs are provided by interpretive rangers. Those positions are available in both full and part-time capacities and include a diverse range of responsibilities and roles. These include leading hikes, attending to visitors at visitor centers, or by giving lectures on topics they have knowledge or expertise on. Stancampiano has organized dozens of programs thus far, from weeknight campsite programs to weekend-long campouts in Sinks Canyon State Park, Seminoe State Park, South Pass State Historic Site, Fort Bridger State Historic Site, and Bear River State Park. She’s also been involved with planning events at other sites as well.

There are five different districts under WYO Parks. Only two have had interpretive rangers thus far. Those are the Shoshone and Absaroka districts. The Laramie district, which encopasses Albany and Laramie counties is set to receive an interpretive ranger this upcoming season. The goal is to have them at parks and historic sites in each district. In addition to programs for adults, there will also be a new initiative aimed specifically at young people this year.

“A lot of parks and national park systems in other states have a junior ranger program and we will be unrolling that in Wyoming this year,” Stancampiano said. “My district down in the southwest as well as those sites up in the northeast will have a booklet with activities, programs, lessons and a junior ranger pledge that people can complete a booklet and come in and take steps to protect [and] show that they've achieved that junior ranger status.”

An interpretive ranger will be hired in the northeast district that will engage visitors in a variety of activities.

“For our district [Absaroka], they're going to be primarily located at Keyhole State Park and doing a good portion of the in-person programming,” said Linley Mayer, an interpretive ranger based at Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site near Sheridan. “There'll be leading hikes, they'll be giving programs. We're going to make a strong effort this year to have some plans [and] programs to invite visitors to come to, and then we're also going to do what we call roving interpretation. So, we're going to set up a tent at maybe one of the boat docks or maybe the beach and we'll have some kind of fun activity that we can engage the visitors in as well.”

In addition to Fort Phil Kearny and Keyhole, Mayer also plans activities and interpretive programs for Trail End State Historic Site in Sheridan. These include a paddle in the parks program at Keyhole, which teaches visitors kayaking and paddle board skills in addition to viewing some of the cliffs and wildlife viewing. A junior curator program is on tap at Trail End in addition to a junior ranger program at Keyhole as well as hosting school tours and increasing the social media presence of these sites are goals for this year.

Programs for LGBTQ+ youth have taken place in recent years. A Latino outdoor youth program and three female-oriented campouts are set to take place this year, among other targeted offerings.

Seasonal interpretive rangers will work primarily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. A list of open positions can be found here.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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