As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are collecting and sharing the stories of people connected to the islands, whether they are park guests, former residents or former park employees.
This is the 14th in our series called “Lakeshore Logbook,” a collection of memories provided by former National Park Service employees.
Living and working in the park on a day to day basis, they’ve experienced a lot to be sure. We hope you enjoy their perspectives.
Elise Lennon grew up in Bayfield as Elise Weber. She worked at the information desk at the Bayfield Visitor Center when she was in high school and college.
When did you work in the park?
Summers of 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010
What position(s) did you hold?
I was a Visitor Use Assistant in the main Visitor’s Center located in Bayfield.
What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job?
One of my favorite things to do at APIS was “morning island roundup.” This we did on the weekends when our dispatcher was off. We would use the park radio to provide park staff in the islands with the weather forecast for the day; make announcements; and record the wind, wave, and sky conditions reported from each station in the park. It was a way to bring a smile to people’s faces, make sure everyone was OK, gather important information, and have a little fun via the radio.
What is the most fun experience you had in the park?
One summer, Jim Dahlstrom, APIS Law Enforcement Officer, Katrina Werchouski, fellow Visitor Use Assistant, and I went out for the day on the lake. We stopped at half the islands to do safety checks. Katrina and I also were able to connect with some of the campers we saw and chatted with in the Visitor’s Center before their trip. It was such a fun way to see the park.
Please share a memorable experience you had in the park.
Every so often, we were able to accompany the Assistant chief of Interpretation out in the field to gather dock/camping fees out on the islands. We always had so much fun boating on the lake and checking in with the volunteers or interns who stayed on the islands. It was a wonderful way to get out on the water and see in person what we would tell the visitors every day.
What is the most amazing thing you saw in the park?
It is amazing to see how quickly the lake changes. We would tell campers before they would head out to camp to be prepared to treat Lake Superior is a sea, rather than a lake. When they would return to the Visitor’s Center, they would 100% verify that Lake Superior is a sea. One minute the lake is calm, quiet and the next, waves would rage on. One day, I was working out at Meyer’s Beach and witnessed a squall. It was incredible.
Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride.
Working with visitors for 4 summers really gave me the confidence to speak publicly and not be weary of meeting new people. I am proud of my ability to speak in front of a crowd and be able connect with strangers.
What story from your time at APIS do you share most frequently?
One summer, there were lost kayakers out at the Meyer’s Beach sea caves. Katrina and I went to help with the search. We hopped in the APIS Prius and sped to Meyer’s Beach. We made it to the beach in about 15 minutes and started our search from the Meyer’s Beach trailhead. For being out of shape, we sprinted that trail. It was us on land and law enforcement and Coast Guard on the water. The kayakers were eventually found and brought to safety!
What, if any, ’something’ from your time at APIS was an impetus for your chosen career or life path?
We had a deaf visitor come in the Visitor’s Center. He had so many questions about the park and we tried to communicate. He was getting frustrated, but we eventually started writing on paper and passing it back and forth. This engaged him and we chatted for about an hour. When I got home that evening, I told my parents about that experience. It forever changed me and it inspired my start in the medical profession. I majored in speech and hearing therapy in college and I am currently a Registered Nurse.
If you could return to just one place in APIS, where would you go? Why?
If I could return to one place, it would probably be the Outer Island Lighthouse. It is such a beautiful building. The stairs leading up to the lighthouse tower are incredible and an experience in themselves. However, it’s the view that gets me. Looking out and seeing a vast amount of water is nothing but inspiring.
Elise was one of many Bayfield High School students who have done a wonderful job working at the park over the years. We would like to thank her for this week’s entry in the Lakeshore Logbook. We look forward to sharing more Logbook entries with you in the coming weeks. You can find the whole series here.