THE SUCCESSFUL USE OF GEOCORPS AND GEOSCIENCE TEACHER INTERNS TO FURTHER GEOLOGIC RESEARCH AT MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, WASHINGTON, USA
At Mount Rainier National Park (MORA), GIPs, GTIPs, and TRTs are used extensively during the summer season to accomplish many goals, including staffing visitor centers, conducting geologic research, developing geoscience curriculum, and documenting geomorphic change. MORA has been involved in all three programs for many years, and interns have completed diverse projects including glacier mapping and velocity studies, river and riparian forest surveys, debris flow studies, and geohazards analyses. The park has had 59 GIPs since 1998, including 44 with the Interpretation Division and 15 with the Resources Division. MORA was the second national park to incorporate the GTIP program in 2012, and 7 geoscience teachers have participated to date. Finally, 18 teachers have worked as TRTs at MORA, all with the Interpretation Division.
The GIP, GITP, and TRT programs are advantageous for all parties. The cost effective programs provide the NPS with highly motivated field assistants who collect field data or work in visitor contact stations. The GIPs gain real-world experience that can translate to jobs in the geosciences or a Park Service career, and the TRTs and GTIPs leave with lesson plans and experience that they can apply to their classrooms. Recent interns have gone on to doctoral programs and/or highly successful careers at other parks, or in earth science industries, such as consulting firms, environmental companies, and energy companies. Many have reported that their GeoCorps internship was the best experience of their life.