U.P. Park Ranger Assists National Park in Costa Rica

Park Rangers Luis Mena and David Kronk (green shirts, back row) with school children in Costa Rica.

Rangers Luis Mena and David Kronk with school children in Costa Rica

You might think the distance of 3600 miles between Michigan and Costa Rica would offer few similarities between the two places.  But last year, Park Rangers Luis Mena and Dave Kronk proved there are indeed some important similarities.

In 2011, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Harvard University’s Climate Change Professional Fellows Program hosted a Costa Rican Climate Change professional. Costa Rican National Park Ranger Luis Mena was selected for this honor because of his ardent concern for his native country and innovative land stewardship practices. Luis spent a month at the Lakeshore assisting with environmental education, absorbing climate change information, speaking with local professionals, and learning about education outreach methods.

The Harvard program included a return visit by a National Park Service (NPS) professional, which occurred in February 2012 when Park Ranger David Kronk traveled to Costa Rica to represent the Lakeshore and the NPS. David is a recognized leader in the NPS environmental education field.While there, he assisted Luis Mena develop, organize, and hold an on-site environmental education educator workshop at a rain forest preserve where Luis serves on the board of directors.

Luis and Dave also worked with groups of students in a park setting as they learned about the influences of climate change on the local ecosystem and what individual people can do to help reduce the impacts of it. Their work serves as a model for future on-site programming at the center and will also serve as a model for other locations and staff in Costa Rica to develop similar programming.

“This type of work is very important because tropical regions may be changing more rapidly than temperate regions,” said Kronk. “Residents must be aware of the impacts their and others lifestyles are having on local, regional, and world-wide climate.”

According to Kronk, United States and Central American national parks share numerous neo-tropical migrant species of birds, and long distance migrants are increasingly having difficulty matching up with food resources in North American when they arrive in the spring. This mismatch of food resources and arrival timing greatly concerns international biologists and is a common concern between US and Costa Rican protected area managers.

“The work being done by Dave and Luis will serve to strengthen both countries efforts at awareness building for climate related issues,” reported Gregg Bruff, Lakeshore Chief of Heritage Education. “The environmental education model they develop will be transferrable to other US parks as well as other sites in Costa Rica and serves as a reminder that though separated by great distances, we share common challenges, resources, and solutions.”