Reading rangers: Pictured Rocks park ranger visits Marquette library

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore park ranger Zachary Gostlin educates youngsters during “Ranger Read.” The event took place Wednesday in the Youth Atrium at the Peter White Public Library. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — They weren’t nestled in deep birch woods at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, but the youngsters who attended Wednesday’s “Ranger Read” program at the Peter White Public Library got an idea of what that picturesque park offers anyway.

Zachary Gostlin, a park ranger at Pictured Rocks, visited the library’s Youth Atrium to talk about the park, read a book and lead craft projects.

“It’s a very special place, and it’s not too far away,” Gostlin said. “It took me about an hour to drive here today.”

His talk, however, was less about the park’s proximity to Marquette than about what it offers, such as tall sand dunes, the Au Sable Light Station and Mosquito Beach.

He told the youngsters that Pictured Rocks is so special, it’s run through the National Park Service.

Grace Kitchel, 6, of Marquette, creates her own park ranger vest during “Ranger Read.” The event took place Wednesday in the Youth Atrium at the Peter White Public Library. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

“It protects a lot of our special places,” Gostlin said of the NPS.

He showed them the NPS arrowhead symbol and asked them what they saw in it.

One was a picture of Mount Rainier, which isn’t in the Upper Peninsula.

“It’s all the way out in the state of Washington, but the National Park Service protects lands all over the country,” Gostlin said.

The tree depicted in the symbol, a sequoia, isn’t found in Michigan either.

Edith Kitchel, 3, of Marquette, listens during Wednesday’s “Ranger Read.” The event took place in the Youth Atrium at the Peter White Public Library. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

“Now again, we don’t have any of these sequoia trees in the Upper Peninsula, but we do have white pine trees,” Gostlin said. “We have wildflowers like trilliums, so the National Park Service protects all plants.”

The symbol’s bison also isn’t a typical Michigan creature, but the mammal, Gostlin said, represents all animals that fall under NPS care.

“We do have things like deer,” Gostlin said. “We have things like moose. We have things like coyotes and wolves.”

The arrowhead shape, he said, represents the history that the NPS also protects.

Gostlin read the rhyming book, “Hello, National Parks!” — which entertained the kids and educated them about places like Grand Canyon National Park, which is part of the NPS.

The famous Arizona park came highly recommended by Gostlin.

“If you’ve never been to Grand Canyon, you’ve got to visit it,” Gostlin said. “It’s so big, it doesn’t even look real. It looks like a giant painting, and you don’t really appreciate it a lot of times unless you see it in person.”

He kept the book-reading experience interactive by asking the kids questions in between stanzas, such as whether they’d ever gone canoeing or if they could find moose pictures in the book.

Gostlin then had them make crafts, like a ranger uniform complete with a vest and hat.

Blayne Rogers, of Marquette, said took his 6-year-old son, Daemon, to the Ranger Road program mainly for socialization.

However, the boy seemed to enjoy making his park ranger vest, particularly seeking out the color blue, although he made note of the color green: “That’s basically the main color of nature.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is