On an average day, Danielle Bronson, a state park interpreter III for the Oceano Dunes District, is busy managing Oceano Dunes District Cultural and Interpretive programs. She is responsible for planning, developing directing and supervising activities of staff engaged in interpretive and education as well as cultural resources protection. Bronson oversees the various educational program platforms such as school groups, social media, distance learning and content panels or brochures.
But now, with social distancing protocols, Bronson has had to adapt the district educational programs to be entirely virtual.
“[The pandemic] has kind of amped up our programs for distance learning,” Bronson says. “So instead of doing those face to face communications, we’re able to reach not only our local communities but anyone interested in virtually attending our programing whether its in CA or across the US.… so it’s kind of cool in that way.”
Before COVID-19, before isolation, Bronson expressed how her “park family” is a “well oiled machine”. From administration, to maintenance,resource, education interpreters, park volunteers and to the park rangers, she says, they all share a love for the outdoors and work collaboratively to get things done.
But now the family is slightly split up with ensuring social distancing in the workplace.
She says the hardest part has been learning to adjust to a webinar style presentation where you cannot adjust a program on the fly based on the visorits reaction, body language or feedback. The Ocean Dunes District misses in-person communication and working with our volunteers and children, but they still love being able to reach people through new platforms and educating about our parks natural and cultural treasures. .
With the current situation, employees from both State Park Districts in San Luis Obispo County (the Ocean Dunes District and the San Luis Obispo Coast District) have been providing educational content through their youtube channels and social media platforms, so people can join in and learn about the outdoors from home. (Click HERE for the Oceano Dunes District Youtube channel or HERE for the San Luis Obispo Coast District Youtube channel).
Despite all the challenges Bronson and her park family have faced with their new norm, she says everything has been a huge success.
“I’m extremely proud to call myself a proud Mama,” she says, referring to herself as the staff’s “mama bear” – “The adaptability the staff has to be able to provide educational programming through new technology is amazing. They’re really stepping up to the plate. They’re taking a new challenge and making it interesting and fun, and they still work collaboratively with each other… We’re all in this funky time and we’re getting through this funky time together.”