On Monday, April 14th I visited the Kernstown Battlefield with Gary Crawford for a site visit and orientation. During this time, Gary (the President of the Kernstown Battlefield Association) took me on a tour of the battlefield. He first brought me to the peak of Pritchard’s Hill. There you get a commanding view of the battlefield and could easily see all of the distinguishable land features used during the battle. He pointed out where and how the Confederate attack deployed and developed as well as the roadways used. Following this, he brought me into the Visitor Center and showed me their exhibits and continued to talk to me about the battle. We talked about my program on July 24th, and decided my first stop will be outside their Visitor Center, then I will lead visitors to the top of Prithcard’s Hill, then to the stone wall where Col. James Mulligan was shot and conclude the tour in front of the Pritchard-Grim House. Gary’s insight proved highly insightful to me gaining a better understanding of the battle. Now that I have walked the battlefield, my confidence level regarding the battle has gone up.
At the park this last weekend, we started to use our new Junior Ranger program. The Junior Ranger program is a NPS wide program used to engage children and educate them on the park’s resources. Activity booklets are given to children and they are required to fill out a certain amount of activites in order for them to become a Junior Ranger. These activities range from crossword puzzles, battlefield quests (find landmarks on the battlefield), ask a Ranger, etc. When they are complete a Ranger will go over their answers and then swear them in as a Junior Ranger. Our park just completed our beta version of our booklet. Therefore, this weekend we tested this out with children coming to the park. We asked them to comment on the activities, look for mistakes and, tell us any suggestions they may have. On Saturday four children came in and were ecstatic about the program. They spent about an hour going through the exhibits here the Visitor Contact Station before they completed the booklet. They caught a couple mistakes in the word search and gave great comments regarding the activities. We plan to have a professionally printed version of the Junior Ranger booklet in the coming weeks.
We also had a busy weekend with great visitors traveling to our park. On Saturday, we had over 30 people visit our Visitor Contact Station alone! (This is a lot for such a new and small park). The range of visitors was nice to see. We had everyone from your typical “Civil War Buffs” to families and even descendants of men who fought here at the battle. I always love meeting descendants of soldiers when I am at the park. They often will know what regiment he fought in and whether he survived or not. Then, I get to pull out numerous maps in an attempt to orient folks to where that certain regiment was during the battle. Sometimes folks want to know the exact spot where someone died. This is almost impossible. Rather, I point to the brigade, or even regimental level and guide them to where they were in the battle at certain times. This allows people to travel through the battlefield and trace the steps of their ancestors.
Also, during my time here this weekend I put the final touches on my Kernstown program. I added transitions to my outline as well as inserted the various stops during my tour. I also completed my interpretative essay for our park’s website. In conjunction to completing this, I had the opportunity to work on the website and add it myself. The NPS uses a system known as CMS for building and editing web pages. When it works, CMS is highly user friendly, but it is prone to crash. What I did first is went in and first created a new page. The page contatined the title (The Second Battle of Kernstown), the text to my essay and an image. Once that was formatted properly, I had to add the page to park’s list of pages. Once that was completed, I needed put the new page under the “places” heading on our sidebar. This is when it got a little confusing. Trying to link pages to other pages got a little complicated, but after some trial and error I figured it out. Finally, after the page was loaded, I needed to create a link from our History and Culture home page to the essay itself. This was easy as all I had to do was edit that page and add a link from another part of our website to that page. Click here to view my essay.
Hours Completed this week: 20
Total Hours Completed: 152