Overall, I really enjoyed completing this project. Throughout the process, I learned a lot from the actual material of the history of Yellowstone and the National Park Service, to the process of researching, compiling and analyzing information, and crediting sources. This project fit my interests very well because nature is very appealing to me; I love being in nature, and enjoying what nature has to offer. Not only have I been to over a third of the nation’s 58 current national parks, but this year is also the National Park Service’s Centennial, making this project even more special. Sadly, with the development and urbanization of the country and the world, we are losing precious lands every day.
One of the things that intrigued me the most was the development and early years of Yellowstone National Park. Originally, Yellowstone was included in the land purchased as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The Corps of Discovery with Lewis and Clark were the first Americans to visit Yellowstone. As we learned in class, during the mid 1800s, as manifest destiny and westward expansion spread through the country, many people visited and documented western lands, including Yellowstone. As a result, Yellowstone was established for its natural beauty (I did not know before that a law had to be passed in order to establish the park for protection, conservation, and human enjoyment). I found it to be interesting that for the first couple decades, the park was poorly funded and unprotected, so many tourists came and harmed the wildlife and park. The lack of funds does make sense, considering that the country was going through Civil War Reconstruction and a financial crisis (Panic of 1873) during this time. I would not have thought before that there would be no protection of the park for a couple decades, considering the level of management that the National Park Service has established today. I learned that the National Park Service was established in 1916, after Yellowstone National Park, even though it sought the same goals as the park. As we learned in class, the National Park System was established during a time heavily influenced by the Progressive Movement and Teddy Roosevelt’s conservation movement.
While researching, I found it awful how Yellowstone once had a problem of overhunting wolves. Being a national park, it is interesting how the hunting of wolves was one tolerated and even encouraged. By removing one link in the food chain, nature’s balance is completely thrown off. Although Yellowstone’s wolves are now protected today, they remain endangered. George actually found out that some biotech companies are trying to extract bacteria from some geysers in order to create new pharmaceuticals. This kind of blew my mind; bacteria living in the hot geothermal vents might have the capability to help create life changing drugs. The impact of tourists on these protected lands is alarming, but not new information to me. However, I did not think that these issues are that bad, considering the way the National Park Service is effectively coping with them today.
Throughout the project, I learned a lot about the research process. What stuck with me the most is respecting authors and creators of work by crediting them for their work through citations. Every picture or piece of text used had to be credited. In general, I learned how to better conduct research and manage all the sources I used. Also, I have become much more proficient at editing videos using Windows Live Movie Maker.
This project really connected with my personal interests and passions. I really enjoy nature, including being in nature and experiencing what it has to offer, such as hiking, fishing, and seeing wonderful things. I have been to over a third of the nation’s national parks, including Yellowstone, and completing this project makes me want to go back to Yellowstone and visit other parks. Our timing of the project could not have been more perfect, with this year being the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the National Park Service.
In conclusion, I learned a lot during this project. I found out new things about the history of Yellowstone and National Parks, while also learning about the research process. I really enjoyed this project, as it fit my personal interests and passions well, since I am an ourdoors person. Sadly, with the development and urbanization of the country and the world, we are losing precious lands every day, making each and every national park even more valuable.