Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blog Post No. 21, 11/19/11 -- A Uniform Look

Saturday was all about being crisply starched and pressed in my Maryland Park Service uniform as I attended an annual all-day volunteer ranger summit at North Point State Park in Baltimore. It was an interesting day which included interactive activities and presentations on the increasing diversity of our park visitors, the computerization of record-keeping for volunteer park staff, and the gravity of maintaining such a valuable resource such as our state parks in the face of budget cutbacks exacerbated by these enduring recessionary times, a point brought gravely home by our state superintendent of parks, Nita Settina, with whom I am pictured below.
Lynell with State Park Superintendent Nita Settina
Since there was no money in the state’s budget to issue me a new uniform after I lost 70 pounds this year, my slacks and shirt have been drastically altered to fit my smaller frame and, to some extent, it shows. The fabric hangs a little loosely on me in places. But no matter. I am I still very proud to wear the uniform and serve my fellow citizens as a humble steward of the great outdoors, bringing knowledge and, hopefully, delight with nature to children and adults alike.

I altered the belt myself, using my grandmother’s antique leather-punch to make new holes for the belt buckle and then trimming more than eight inches from the belt and blackening the newly cut end with dye to match. And I struck a slightly rebellious tone by donning a "Dea Dread" hair accessory custom made for me by Thea Asoto of Baltimore (

I’ve owned the simple black bead post earrings for decades and paired them today with a black bead and green Serpentine rock necklace, which I purchased in Zermatt, Switzerland, in 2006. It is the same kind of Serpentine rock found at Soldiers Delight, the natural environment area where I work as a park ranger on summer Sundays. My look is completed with lace-up, high-heeled combat boots by Rampage that I’ve had for years. 
Receiving award for contributing several hundred volunteer hours in 2011
On a related note, I attended the "Volunteer Appreciation" picnic put on by the Maryland Park Service November 5th to honor those who volunteer their time on behalf of their state parks, and was awarded two certificates!  The first was to acknowledge the several hundred volunteer hours I put in annually in my role as a volunteer ranger for the Maryland Park Service and as a docent at the Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area's visitor center, and the other was to acknowledge the dedication to Soldiers Delight NEA by the board of directors of Soldiers Delight Conservation, Inc., a tiny nonprofit dedicated to restoring the delicate and unique ecosystem that makes SDNEA such a special preserve, of which I serve as the board's vice president.
Receiving award on behalf of SDCI for its dedicated contribution to SDNEA
And here I am on October 29, carving a jack-o-lantern during the annual pumpkin-carving program I put on for the public each year at the Soldiers Delight visitor center.
By the way, Soldiers Delight is a fabulous wilderness area in Baltimore County -- full of hiking trails and scenic vistas. We have lots to offer, including naturalist-led hikes on our beautiful trails to learn about wildflowers, butterflies, raptors and other wild inhabitants, as well as  programs in our visitor center such as all-natural egg-dyeing, which I host on the Sunday before Easter each spring, a pumpkin-carving program, which I lead on the Saturday before Halloween each fall, a holiday craft-making program and bake sale, which I host in early December, and a children's story-telling hour, which I host every other Sunday all summer long.  Come check out Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area, by starting with a visit to our website ( for directions and further information. 

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