Model Ranger

Teaching the next generation to love the bay.

AS A KID, Joanne Jarvis once visited the massive Bay Model in Sausalito on a field trip, but she never imagined that as an adult she would work there as a ranger for the U.S. Army Corps. How did you become a ranger? I saw a local TV show about volunteering with the National Park Service and I thought, “I didn’t know you could do that.” One day I gave them a call. I started as a volunteer on Alcatraz. I thought I would do it for six months. Fast-forward a couple of years. I was still there and was thinking, “Hmm, I should try to find a way to make this more permanent.” So I did. You’re from the Bay Area? Native San Franciscan. I’m the one you’ve heard of. My wife is native as well. You still live in the city? We live in Marin now. Well, there you go. Where else have you worked? I’ve worked at every national park site on San Francisco Bay. Any favorites? Alcatraz. There’s so much interest. It doesn’t matter what corner of the world you’re from, you’ve heard of Alcatraz. And you rode a boat to work. The ferry ride was one of the highlights of the day. Tell us about the Bay Model. It was built in 1956 to study a proposal — the Reber plan — to put two dams on San Francisco Bay. It’s kind of a hidden gem. The name doesn’t really explain what it is, does it? A lot of people think it’s little desktop model of the bay. They think, “We’ll come, we’ll look, we’ll spend 10 minutes and we’ll go eat lunch.” No, the model is an acre-and-a-half in size and there are a lot of exhibits about the bay and the old shipyards. How do visitors react? At first they’re usually confused about what this is, so we give them the history. But we know that once they go back there it’s nothing like they think it’s going to be. When they come out, the reaction is usually, “Wow!” “Impressive!” “I never knew the Bay Area looked like this.” It’s an education? It provides a perspective about the drought and the watershed. Usually, once they come out, they’re sold. They’re lifelong stewards of this place. That’s what you want? As park rangers we try to instill the idea of stewardship for the next generations so people think this is cool and they’ll want to protect it. Maybe you’ll inspire another Joanne Jarvis? Yes!

Categories: On the Job