Friday, August 24, 2007
Interpreting Great Brook Farm with Akilah Campbell
If you find yourself alone in a foreign land outside the shelter of the tour bus and guide, navigating a safe course may prove daunting if not treacherous. Finding a friendly person who can interpret your surroundings and steer you clear of pitfalls is the proverbial angel in disguise. Making your way though the flora and fauna in your local forest can be almost as challenging. Meet Akilah Campbell, the Park Interpretive Ranger at Great Brook Farm State Park.
This park season, from May through the end of October, Campbell helps visitors by answering questions on a wide range of topics, leading trail and barn/cow milking tours, as well as creating programs for adults and kids alike. On her current agenda are programs for mountain bike trail rides, creating butterfly gardens, and how to manage your yard for wildlife, including topics such as how to attract birds, or discourage deer from dining on shrubbery.
Many in the corporate world, especially those relegated to "farms" of a cubical nature, would surely give their right arm to earn a paycheck during the spring, summer and fall, outside, mingling with nature. Campbell admits, "It's definitely up there on the dream job list. Where I work is absolutely gorgeous and so serene. I have a pond right in front of my office and a field So much wildlife as well."
Campbell appreciates the many features of Great Brook Farm State Park. She has three pages of favorite sites and historical anecdotes documented, and often adds to it after leading a tour or encountering a visitor along the trail. Campbell observes, "The history of [Great Brook] is very rich and dates back to colonial times. There are many old sites — such as the Garrison House, old Grist Mill, the log cabin from one of the older farmers, Native American sites, [20 miles] of trails for mountain biking, horseback riding and for cross-country skiing in the winter."
Before joining Great Brook as the Park Interpreter, Campbell was a park naturalist in New Jersey. She studied wildlife management, ecology and music education at the University of New Hampshire. For her senior project, she created nature trails and took an inventory of plant and animal species in Madison, New Hampshire.
While she tends to prefer an outdoor classroom, she also enjoys bringing the outdoors to young people inside their own classrooms, particularly those kids in cities who do not have the opportunity to visit natural environments. "Inner city kids need [outdoor experiences and education] the most." At schools in Lawrence and Lowell, Campbell is planning different programs for sixth graders pertaining to mapping, weather and erosion as well as other topics relating to our natural environment.
For more information about programs and scheduled events at the park, visit: www.mass.gov/dcr/events/gbf-aug.pdf.
© 2007 The Carlisle Mosquito