Jean-Pierre Anderson is a park ranger with the National Park Service, at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Recently I spoke with Anderson about his background, his ongoing projects, and the upcoming soundwalk in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
DG: How did you first get interested in nature?
JA: I’ve been a hunter and fisherman my whole life. I was always in the woods with my friends.
DG: What is an early memory you had of interacting with nature?
JA: My friends and I spent a great deal of time playing in the woods. There was a small river that ran through the middle of it. We liked to hunt, fish, explore, and camp.
DG: What is your educational background? What compelled you to take academic route?
JA: I have a BS in Natural Resources from Ball State University; Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Indiana
University. My love of nature compelled me to take this route.
DG: What are some of your favorite aspects of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore?
JA: I love to lead children on environmental education hikes. I also like to present public programs for park visitors.
DG: I’m looking forward to this Saturday’s soundwalk. Can you describe the trail that participants will be taking in Miller Woods? What kinds of nature sounds can people hear on that trail?
JA: I feel that it is one of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s most beautiful trails. The black oak savanna with its swale/swell topography is truly breathtaking when the lupine is in bloom. These woods with a variety of wetlands provide one with a concert to enjoy Mother Natures orchestra — wind in the trees, insects in the air, insects in the leaf litter, and small mammals.
DG: What are some current projects that youre working on?
JA: I have recently been assigned as the operations program manager, which means I am responsible for the public programming and visitor center operations within the park. I hire about 12 seasonal park guides for the summer season, and their supervision and training takes a lot of my time. I spend the remaining time developing public programs, coordinating events, and managing the visitor center operations.
DG: Whats another national park that you like to visit?
JA: I love Mammoth Cave and the stories of underground exploration.
DG: Have you seen The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, the documentary by Ken Burns documentary? Are there any good books about the National Park Service that you’d recommend?
JA: The Ken Burns documentary is great. I also liked the book Battling for the National Parks by George Hartzog.
A soundwalk happens at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Saturday, July 10; it is free and open to the public. Participants will meet at the Douglas Center (20 N Lake Street, Miller, IN 46403) at 2 p.m., and a brief presentation by members of the American Society for Acoustic Ecology will be given at the Douglas Center before the soundwalk starts. After the soundwalk, participants will talk about what they experienced during the soundwalk. Vocalo.org 89.5 FM is supporting the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology as a media sponsor for this event.
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