Araceli González: Five weeks on the Franconia Ridge
WTN World Trails Ambassador, Araceli González had the opportunity to study at the White Mountain Environmental Field School for five weeks as part of the WTN – Hub of the Americas Fellowship program. Originally from Paraguay, Ara shares what the experience was like and what she learned from her time in the White Mountains.
The White Mountain Environmental Field School has come to an end! And about this amazing experience I don’t have enough words for how grateful I feel. I learned a lot from people around the world through the engaging seminars about trail management, maintenance, workers, signs, monitoring, tourism, and how other countries in the Americas develop trail networks.
We also worked on personal projects in the Franconia Ridge Loop and Welch and Dickey Loop Trails in the White Mountain National Forest. In my case, I made an interpretative proposal for both trails. My classmates had projects that included photo monitoring for the Franconia Ridge and Welch and Dickey Mountains, and improving hikers’ safety in Franconia Ridge.
For a group project, we redesigned the Shining Rock Kiosk and presented the results in a symposium.
During the course, we went every week to Franconia Ridge, and worked as summer stewards, to teach people why they should stay on the trails and the importance of protecting the alpine zone.
This wonderful time studying trails has made everyone involved better trail professionals. I’m happy to be part of WTN’s – Hub for Americas program partnership with Binghamton University. The best thing I learned while working in the alpine zone is that no matter how bad the weather may be, you can always bloom! I hope more people from different countries take this course. I am so thankful for my new friends and learnings, and to everyone who made me feel at home.