There have been many discussions between Park Superintendent Karl Cordova and Friends President, Bill Zunkel about how to improve the Battlefield monument site on NM 50. It started with the contributions of the Friends Group to seek funding to erect a stone and bronze monument honoring the brave volunteers of New Mexico who fought in the Battle of Glorieta Pass. Then discussions of ways to improve the aesthetics of the site, since it was previously surrounded by unmanaged dirt. Bill Zunkel suggested that enhancing this site with youth would be a win-win activity. Karl suggested that it would make an excellent Eagle Scout project for our local Boy Scout troop. Karl was able to talk Eagle Scout candidate Ryan Cordova to take on this project. It should be mentioned that he did a biographical report on Manuel Chaves and his role in the Battle while in the 5th grade, Ryan is now going into the 10th grade. The original plan was to have Ryan and his fellow scouts complete this project in June or July, 2019.
In April, 2019, Pecos NHP was contacted by the National Park Trust asking us to consider hosting a “Kids in the Park” Day along with their Junior Ranger Ambassador, Brian Wilson on May 18. The National Park Trust is a national 501(c)(3) charitable organization who supports the National Park Service mission in many different ways. One of their new programs is the Junior Ranger Ambassador program, where they select youth from across the country to advocate for kids becoming more involved with parks. Brian was selected due to his visits to over 160 NPS units and level of media attention that follows him and his blog site. Brian elected to choose Pecos NHP as his first Ambassador program. There are several requirements from the National Park Trust, and one of them includes Brian participating in a conservation project. At the time that we were asked to participate in Brian’s program, we only had one conservation project that was applicable to kids and this was the Civil War Monument site enhancement project. We had to quickly complete the required compliance and planning and develop a youth oriented conservation day, with Ryan’s help. Park staff assisted the project with procuring and installing a low rock wall and providing some supplies and material. Ryan organized and supervised the labor staff using scouts, leaders and Brian. Ryan developed a site plan, list of materials and a labor plan to accomplish the project by 1 PM that day. The goal was met with the hard work and dedication of youth and leaders.
Another requirement of the Junior Ranger Ambassador Day, is that the park and Brian must host fun and educational activities for local and visiting youth. With the cooperation of Brian and his family, the park suggested hosting a raptor education program to be conducted by the New Mexico Wildlife Center, and the New Mexico State Museum staff cooperated by providing a primitive hunting workshop, and traditional jewelry making demonstrations at the park visitor center. These were all accomplished with great success and with very little time for planning and coordinating. Additionally, a television program “Travels with Darley” requested to capture the conservation project along with an interpretive/on camera ranger presentation to be an upcoming episode on her program. The “Travels with Darley” program airs on PBS and Amazon Prime.