Joe Kay shares about his NPS internship experience

by Vicki Heisser  |   

Recently, I met up with Joe Kay, National Park Service intern at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, and his supervisor, Morgan Gantz who is the Park Planner and Compliance Coordinator. Joe and Morgan took some time to tell me about the work they’ve been doing this summer.

Joe explained, “We went out towards Slana in the North District of the park and conducted a condition assessment of an Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) trail. We were using a handheld Trimble GPS unit to collect condition data along the trail, for example if it was a trail was rutted out, or if there was water ponding or basic stuff like that.” 

As an intern, Joe is learning about what it takes to maintain trails and enjoying the scenery. For him, as he explains, “being out in the backcountry and actually seeing Mount Wrangell was pretty cool.”

Not only does he get to see the wonders of the park, but he gets to live and explore among the Wrangell Mountains for three months while he participates in the internship. While mapping trail conditions, Joe spent five days camping in the park where he was able to put a few of his PWSC outdoor courses to use. For him, it was the backcountry backpacking course that really came in handy. “If I didn't have that course, I wouldn't have been able to eat, I guess. So Ben, our outdoor leadership instructor, did a great job of showing us how to make a trip plan, decide what food to bring and how to prepare for a several day outing.” Joe also follows the seven principles of Leave No Trace (LNT).

He explains, “The LNT principals are plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire), respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. It got me comfortable just living out of a tent.”

Finishing the interview with Joe, it is clear that he is comfortable with the outdoors and is really enjoying his time as an intern, working with Morgan and getting to be a part of the outdoors in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. 

For more information about Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, visit the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park website.