A New Job in a Strange New Time: My experience in a National Park in the time of COVID
By: Maeve Marino
I’m in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located in North East Ohio between two urban centers- Akron and Cleveland. It’s a unique place, formed around the Cuyahoga River to help restore it and provide a natural area to a part of Ohio that had otherwise become heavily industrialized. It is also a resource dense park, especially culturally, that keeps the resource management team very busy.
The first two weeks of working in the park have been chaotic, but in a good way. I have been patiently waiting at home for weeks before beginning this internship and it has been so great to get back to work and these first two weeks have shown me that in the park, your schedule can change quickly and nothing is too routine, something I kind of enjoy about it!
My first 2 days were spent driving around the park with my supervisor, well more like being chauffeured, as current park rules are one person in the front seat and one in the back, which made talking during our tour a little strange! My third day was totally different, I worked from home all morning and then in the afternoon had the chance to go see the remnants of a 19th century dam that had just been pulled out of the water.
My Thursday was another day spent working from home while the offices underwent some changes to comply with park COVID rules. Friday, I found myself back out in the park, hiking along the Buckeye Trail to look at upcoming trail changes that were needed due to the increase of visitors during lockdown. During that hike along the trail, I was shown two waterfalls: Blue Hen Falls and the lesser known Buttermilk Falls.
My second week has been a little more standard, as I’ve been doing a lot of research and writing on watercraft that could be preserved along the Cuyahoga River and how to conserve any such find during major construction projects along the river that are upcoming. I, of course, did get one more field day in this week while it was so warm and sunny, and visited a section of the park that is often referred to as ‘Hell Town’ by those who are from the area. It was a portion of the park that had many abandoned buildings that became an area that teenagers would vandalize and hang out in. The park has demolished all the buildings now, except for a large red barn that has become the home of bats and has an amazing view of part of the park!
These first two weeks in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park have been great and I feel like I’ve already learned quite a bit. I’m excited to get out into the field even more in the next few weeks and explore some of the archaeological resources within the park.