Tom and I have now been back at work at Fort Frederica National Monument since January 2. We are doing our usual two days of living history (Saturdays and Sundays) and two days of manning the desk and projects. So far that is the only usual thing about what we are doing. There have been some personnel changes at Fort Frederica in the last year.
Our boss, Ranger Michael, is now the Resource Manager for Fort Frederica and Cumberland Island National Seashore. The two National Park sites share one Superintendent, who spends most of his time at Cumberland Island. This means that he wants Michael at Cumberland Island most of the time as well. Consequently we only see our boss one day a week. And he is usually here on our day off!
A second change is that Ranger Denise retired. She had a lot of health issues and wasn’t able to be at work much but she really knew her stuff. We lost a valuable resource. She also worked really hard when she was at work. With Ranger Denise’s retirement, we only have one interpretive ranger at Fort Frederica. Not one full-time and one or two part-time. Just one. Which gives Ranger Ellen a very full load of responsibilities.
So it is up to the volunteers to carry most of the interpretive load. Fortunately there are six of us that can give tours, do living history, and man the Visitor Center. But it is a little like letting the inmates run the circus. We don’t have much supervision so it is a good thing we are all very responsible and good at what we do. The Dallmans are a new couple to Fort Frederica, although they have been volunteering in the National Parks for ten years. They catch on quick and love doing living history. The Lindemans are back at work at Fort Frederica for their third season. We worked with them two years ago and they are great. And Tom and I are back at work at Fort Frederica for our fourth season.
Ranger Michael told us it is better to do something than to do nothing, so Tom is taking him at his word. We don’t have anyone to give (or withhold) permission to do stuff. The first week Tom tore down a very unhistorical structure that another volunteer built in the fall. Now Tom and another volunteer are designing something to replace it. Tom helped build a split rail fence, repaired the garden fence, and restrung the bed in the palmetto hut. He also roofed the blacksmith hut with palmetto thatch.
One more personnel change is Ellen P. She is a retired school teacher who is supervising the bookstore and helping with programs. She used to run the archaeology education program during the summer at the park, so she knows a lot about Fort Frederica. Ellen P knows how to get things done and will be taking care of most of the school groups that come. But she is only supposed to work 15 hours a week – we know how that goes!
Although there are changes at Fort Frederica, our jobs have not changed very much. We are still the frontline for talking to visitors and making sure they have a good experience at Fort Frederica. Tom and I are always glad to be back at work.