The Statue of Liberty
BS&SS at Liberty State Park
Ellis Island

Bruce and Sara---Another Season as Park Guides
at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island NM
April 24, 2011 to September 22, 2011


As many of our friends and family know, we had been planning to return to Mesa Verde NP in 2011. We had had several confirming emails from our supervisor, Linda Martin, that we could plan on returning, we had purchased a ticket to return home during the middle of the season so that Bruce could perform the wedding of a very close friend, and we had a return date confirmed.

But then....on January 14th, nine days after Bruce had filed a FOIA request to review the final report of an OIG investigation at Mesa Verde in 2009, we were called by Linda Martin and told that she had just been "ordered by the new Superintendent, Cliff Spencer, not to re-hire Bruce"; four days later, she called to say she had been "ordered not to re-hire either of us".

Many people believe this was a blatant violation of both the Whistleblower Protection Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; simply stated, it appears to be obvious retaliation for Bruce's attempt to get information through the Freedom of Informaiton Act in 2009 and 2011, and relatiation for writing a letter to the Office of Inspector General (DOI) which resulted in an OIG investigation at Mesa Verde NP and of Larry Wiese, the former Superintendent at Mesa Verde in 2009. For more on this, go to .)

And so.... we quickly called the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to see if we could return for another season, we were told they would be glad to have us back, and we returned...starting on April 24th.

The Liberty State Park Screening Site

For the first four weeks, we worked at the Liberty State Park screening site---one of the two security screening sites where visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island have to go through a screening process not unlike going through security at an airport. (The other and much larger and busier site is located at the tip of Battery Park in New York City.) At each of the sites, there are U.S. Park Police, occasional members of the USPP SWAT teams, employees of the company that operates the screening machines, and two or three interpretive guides or rangers from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monument. Whereas everyone else was more concerned with security, our job as interpretive rangers was to meet and greet visitors, to help answer questions about the mechanics of visiting both islands and questions about how to spend time most effectively.....and also to calm down visitors upset by the screening process.

We quickly learned how important the screening sites were! For many people, visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is their first contact with the National Park Service, and the interpretive rangers at the screening sites are their first contact with National Park Service Rangers and Guides---and first impressions are important.

Also, visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island can be confusing. There's a lot to see, there's the confusions of how to use the ferries going to and from and between the islands, and there's the frustration of many visitors trying to see a lot with very little time. In late April and early May, there also were literally hundreds of class trips, and often we'd be called upon to give "mini tours" or introductory talks to the students, or take the time to commiserate with senior citizen groups who found them selves surrounded by more children than they ever expected.

After four weeks of being at the NJ screening site, we wrote some recommendations and suggestions for the Chief of Interpretation---essentially suggesting that the two screening sites really should be viewed as the beginning of the "interpretive process" at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island...and should be staffed regularly by experienced park guides and rangers.

Back to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

On May 22nd, Sara went back to the Statue of Liberty and Bruce to Ellis Island. Working at the screening site had been a good experience, but working at the Statue and Ellis Island is better---our responsibilities are more challenging and less repetitive, and we have more time to talk to people, answer their questions, help them have a better experience, and "interpret" the resource.

Much like 2010, we enjoyed our second summer at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island! And we feel honored to be a part of the National Park Service, and to be working at one of the most treasured and honored icons of America. For Sara, there's the daily thrill of working at the Statue of Liberty--being able to see it up close and from every possible angle--inside and out, and having the time to study the inner mechanics of how it was built, seeing first hand its affect on people from around the world, helping visitors see more and experience more while there, and experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime (for easterners) earthquake while in the crown! For Bruce, there was the joy of helping families trace and locate their ancestors, letting them "walk where thier grandmothers and grandfathers walked", and being with them as they began to appreciate what over 12 million people did---like Bruce's grandmother who went through Ellis Island in 1902 and 1906.

Perhaps what we enjoy most about working as NPS Rangers and Gudes is being able to work with and help literally hundreds of people every day. We enjoy being able to make their vacations a little more meaningful and memorable, and being a part of their cherish memories as families and as visitors to some of America's very special places. Through the grateful looks on many faces, applause at the end of tours and programs, and letters and emails from people from around the world---we know we have made a difference in a how many have experienced the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island this year!

Some Final Concerns and Recommendations

Like any organization, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island have a few problems. And as Bruce has done in the past, he is leaving with a few concerns and recommendations:

  1. A Significant Problem: Many of the rangers at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are permanent rangers, they have worked at the park for many years, and many are tired, bored, and "burned out." Meanwhile, the rangers or guides at the screening sites often are young and inexperienced; most have never worked at the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island; and many can't answer questions about what to expect and how to plan their day.

    Another problem is that there are substantial and indefensible inequities in the working conditions and work schedules among the four sites. For instance, Ellis Island and the screening site at Liberty State Park are always heated in the winter and air conditioned in summer ....whereas Liberty Island (the Statue of Liberty) and the screening site at Battery Park can be very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. And a comparison of the different work schedules reveals incredible differences.

  2. A Possible Solution to Many Problems is Bruce's final recommendation for solving a number of problems.... specifically, it's a recommendation that all the interpretive rangers and guides at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and at both screening sites should be treated as part of one interpretive effort, everyone should be cross-trained so they can work at any of the four sites, and everyone should be rotated from site to site on a regular, predictable schedule.

If you want to write to or contact Bruce and Sara, their email addresses are: and/or

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