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On the real benefits of a seasonal job

Having worked in Yellowstone, and excited to move forward to my next seasonal job, I've done lots of thinking about the benefits of the seasonal job lifestyle...
Once I got settled in, and decided to look outside myself to see just what and who I could get involved with, I found as I opened my mind and searched for learning opportunities, that the world expanded! To me, the best benefits weren't about the housing (which was decent) or the food (which was edible). The best benefits for me were the wide variety of people I got to meet and become friends with, and the opportunities to get involved in the Park and in caring about the environment in a practical, balanced way.
For example, at Old Faithful, where I worked, there are a large collection of geysers, in the Upper Geyser Basin. I got interested in Geyser Gazing (watching geysers and pools to report any action/inaction). A simple activity, right? Well, as I spent time out in the basin,as I invested effort in getting a radio (to call in geyser activity to the Visitor's Center and to hear other gazers' reports) and in paying closer attention to subtle details of the varied geysers, I found that my love for the Park was growing as well as my level of knowledge and interest. Kind of a "Rube Goldberg" device of one thing leading to another!
I didn't want to just sit in my room and do nothing, or waste my time there doing things I could do at home, or in the towns or cities.
And the people....! I tend to most enjoy being around people who love to learn and to get involved, who have an interest in community and in sharing experiences and etc. I met some amazing people in Yellowstone... people with master's degrees (I haven't gone to college), people with hard-knock life stories, people rich and poor, old and young. What a rich tapestry! Each one brought something very valuable to the table...themselves, as they were. Real acceptance, without anger and argument, was in abundance for me there, and I got better at extending it to others. I had grown up rather sheltered and so needed to break out and have a wider variety of experiences.
In watching/being around the National Park Service, I came to appreciate how the people "on the ground" (that is, the people actually In The Park) were doing their best to balance the needs of the animals/environment with the needs of the visitors. I learned about the wolves, and the bears, and the bison, and their needs. I grew to love the animals, for the wild and magnificent qualities they added to this world we live in. I saw more kinds of wildflowers than I had ever seen before! I saw more kinds of different thermal-feature-activity than I had thought could exist. I encountered more different ideas than I had known of....
I mean this to be a celebration of variety and not a lecture, lol. I just know that, in my future jobs, getting involved in doing good things and meeting good people are tops on my list. Everyone has good in them! Loving differences while connecting with the common good in us all has been a real treat for me. When I say I love people (on a resume or app that sounds like a real cliche), I mean it...
...just some ponderings.

Other benefits....? Well, I'd have to say that, after the people and the Park, it'd be the activities offered. Especially the Yellowstone Degree program offered by Xanterra. I got to take ranger walks and Yellowstone Association tours, do book reports on books I'd read, and even report on hikes I'd taken, and earned points towards the "degrees". There were 3 levels; I earned two, plus I earned the Location Specialist pin. Talk about enriching my knowledge of the Park and its animals, thermal features, and natural conditions! For each level earned there was a gift given... plus a pin which I got to wear on my uniform. Each time I was able to help a guest with specific park questions I was thrilled! Those are real golden moments. So many folks had never been to Yellowstone before! It was a real privilege to get to help them learn about the Park, even if it was only telling them where the bathrooms were ( ;) lol) and what time Old Faithful was "scheduled" (their word) to go off.
Also, there was softball. Way back in the 90s when I first worked in the Park (I was a crazy kid back then), I played, and loved it. Time and my newly-found issues with altitude brought me to a choice to be the team photographer in 2008. (I still anticipate playing again, just at a lower altitude)
Winters in Yellowstone had their own special benefits. I'm someone that can enjoy group socializing AND also being alone, curled up with a good book (though not at the same time, lol).
A quiet snowfall on a crisp, starry winter's night at Old Faithful, with perhaps a quick trip to the Pub to get some nachos, after a finished workday, was very relaxing.
And there were dances, where you could dress up if you liked, or not. Theme dances, like the Pajama Dance, a favorite, and the Superhero Night, another fave.
But the very very best of all, during the winter, was the Yellowstone Winter Olympics, held at Old Faithful each Februrary. I volunteered to be the "unofficially official" photographer for the 10 days of games, and it was a blast! I did that job for 2 winters, and it helped me come out of the still-somewhat-shy shell I had. I've never met a nicer bunch of people than my winter Old Faithful family, and, boy, did they ever photograph well! They were great subjects. People came together....there were ski races and pub games and cool events such as TanDUMB ski and Chair Tow, and of course the all-time fave No Talent Show. Talk about creativity! Many people showed their talents and abilities and comedy in that evening's emceed event.
To me, the greatest benefits really are all about the people, the friendships, and being a part of the great things available, in nature as well as at "home" in the housing area.
However, on a final closing note, I have to admit that right up there with the people for top experiences EVER, was my getting to see a sunset eruption of Giant geyser AND Grand geyser, all alone. I was the only one out on the boardwalks that November 6 night and was it ever spectacular! I also got to contribute the eruption start times to the geyser list serv. A double thrill!! Plus I got photos! A triple thrill!!! Talk about being in the right place at the right time.... I call it divine providence, some may call it karma or kismet or's all good.

I totally look forward to other "right places" and "right times" in my future jobs!

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Comment by Annie on April 8, 2009 at 4:49am
Thanks so much for your blog, this is the first time I'm doing anything like this and reading what you have to say, let's me know I'm doing what can possibly be one of the best experiences of my life. I am looking forward to meeting people like you, very inspiring, can't wait to read what you have to write about your next adventure...Take care
Comment by Kate on January 13, 2009 at 11:34pm
I'm glad you enjoyed the post! I am still waiting on interviews for summer 2009, so I don't yet know where I will be going.
Comment by Deb on January 13, 2009 at 7:40pm
Kate, I get to live vicariously for a few minutes when I read a post like yours! Thank you. I can't wait until I can unhook the seat belt (so to speak) and blast off into a location I really want! What is your 2009 summer gonna be? Thanks

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