Wyoming State Parks’ record visitation during 2020, spurred by the COVID pandemic, has been well-documented, and the momentum generated by those visitation numbers has translated to continued visitation during the past two years.
However, despite the impressive numbers generated during 2020, Wyoming State Parks had a lot of people on the parks, but not a lot of WyoParks sponsored activities for them to enjoy.
As Wyoming and the nation began to slowly ease out of the pandemic during 2021, Wyoming State Park began to resume some events and activities during the year, but far from a full schedule.
With the initiation of an Interpretive Ranger program, the Wyoming State Park 2022 schedule exploded with a series of old and new activities, events and programs. The department’s online presence increased, as well, with Facebook reach improving by as much as 134% at specific parks.
An Interpretive Ranger’s role is to emotionally and intellectually connect visitors to the division’s natural and cultural resources through a variety of programs, tours, hikes, events, exhibits and more. Rather than teach or enforce, an Interpretive Ranger translates and connects.
Through the efforts of Interpretive Rangers Linley Mayer and Angelina Stancampiano, the public may have noticed a huge increase in Wyoming State Parks’ programming and activities, coupled with much more activity on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
“I planned, promoted, or was a part of at least 84 programs, hikes, tours or events which combined reached over 2,400 people in 2022,” said Mayer, who planned events at Fort Phil Kearny and Keyhole state parks and Trail End State Historic Site.
Meanwhile, Stancampiano organized dozens of programs ranging from small weeknight campsite programs to several weekend-long campouts.
“We had a really great program with National Outdoor Leadership Schools (NOLS) and Wyoming Equality this summer at Sinks Canyon,” Stancampiano said. “After a six-day backpacking trip on the Winds with NOLS, seven LGBTQ+ youth joined us for two days of hardcore service work constructing stone-raised beds for an ethnobotany garden. We all worked hard in August literally carrying stones out of the river bed!
Stancampiano works with staff from Seminoe, Sinks Canyon, South Pass, Fort Bridger and Bear River state parks and has helped with events at several other venues.
Mayer and Stancampiano have diverse educational backgrounds but have been able to draw from their life experiences to be successful interpretive rangers. Mayer’s background is in History and she used that knowledge to work her way up the professional ladder within Wyoming State Parks from a summer seasonal employee to park superintendent at Fort Bridger before embracing her current role as an interpretive ranger.
Stancampiano, on the other hand, has a degree in Biology and an emphasis in Chemistry and, following graduation, traveled all over the country focusing on work with protected beach nesting birds before working as an interpretive ranger for Oklahoma State Parks and eventually joining the Wyoming State Parks staff.
As for 2023, both are already enthusiastically looking towards the coming year, and look to not only continue some of last year’s successful events, but expand into new areas.
“I’m most excited for our Women Who Hike campouts,” Stancampiano said. “We had two in 2022 an are doing four in 2023 including a winter edition at Boysen; a Leave No Trace training at Seminoe, a History edition at South Pass City and a National Public Lands Day campout at Sinks Canyon.”
Mayer ended 2022 with a series of social media Christmas tradition videos that proved to be extremely popular.
“District Manager Christina Bird brought me the idea of Trail End and the Wyoming Historic Governors’ Mansion creating the videos,” Mayer said. “It was so much fun interacting with the public in this way. I hope to continue making those types of videos through the summer, but with different content.
Mayer looks to also continue with a Junior Ranger program at Keyhole State Park this summer and a Junior Curator program at Trail End State Historic Site. The Junior Curator program provides junior high-aged individuals an opportunity to learn about museum work, research an artifact, make a short video about that artifact and create an exhibit combining all of their artifacts using interpretive principles.
To learn more about Wyoming State Park events and activities during 2023, check the WyoParks.wyo.gov website and keep an eye out on the division’s Instagram and Twitter pages to enjoy more content from our interpretive rangers.