New Job, Same Park
Written by: Luis Berrizbeitia
1 July 2021 – 15 July 2021
This month, I started my internship at Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, Massachusetts. Minute Man is a somewhat ‘new’ park in the National Park system, having been incorporated in the late 50s. Although the park is relatively new, its creation has to do with arguably the oldest, and most historically significant event in our nation’s history: April 19th, 1775, and the battle that started the revolutionary war.
I have been at Minute Man for over a year now. Starting in May of 2020 I worked in Natural and Cultural Resources Management as a National Council for Preservation Education intern. I continued on as a contractor during the school year allowing me to focus on school while being able to still serve the park on a part time basis. This summer I have pivoted departments and am now working in interpretation, new job, same park.
So, what has my new day-to-day at the park been like so far? I can break it down into two main categories – regular interpretation duties on the ground (interp as it’s called) and research in the office. I’ll start by explaining what I do when I’m doing interpretation duties on the ground. Interpretation duties start at 8:45 in the morning sharp with the raising of the flag and setting up the visitor greeting table. The morning and afternoon shift is essentially the same, both consisting of a trail rove and working the greeting table.
Trail roves have been a fantastic way to orient myself to the park’s trails and to get to the know historically significant sites. Although I’ve been at Minute Man for over a year, I’m surprised by the new areas of the park I’ve discovered on my walks. I stop at each wayside I pass, reading them and taking notes so I can acquaint myself to the historical facts and stories they tell. I’ve noticed that my visitor interaction during these walks can be a little limited at times, even when I say hello first. I think this partially has to do with my attire (no disrespect to the ACE shirts!), I don’t exactly look like a park ranger, and rightly so!
While visitors may not realize they can ask me questions about the park while I’m out on the trail, I feel like I’m one of the ‘interp’ pack when I’m on table duty. I feel extremely comfortable talking with visitors about the park and its history. Visitors often ask about the history of the Battle Road Trail – who fought where and when. Questions about the Old North Bridge and the “shot heard around the world” are never far between. I’m already able to have comfortable discussions with visitors on these topics, and if I’m asked a very specific question I don’t know the answer to, I gladly hand it off to someone who does! I really enjoy asking visitors where they are coming from when they stop by. It’s a great way to break the ice, and it’s really interesting to see how far away some visitors travel in order to come to Minute Man. This type of visitor interaction is new to me – on the Natural and Cultural Resources team we mostly work in areas away from visitors. I’ve had quite a few families come from California, which is the furthest place yet.
Stay tuned for my next blog post where I plan to speak about the research I’m helping with and how it will hopefully lead to a more complete understanding of the African Americans who fought on the patriot side during the revolutionary war.