Posts Tagged ‘Tour guide’

Beyond your toes!

tour guide

Alex Morris

I was hired as a boat tour guide at Lost River Cave at the age of 19 in the spring of 2007.  My cousin recommended the cave as a casual job, great for people who like working outside. I’d been to Carlsbad Caverns as a child, as well as Mammoth Cave. From what I could remember, those caves were cool, so yeah, a boat tour guide sounded like a way better profession than flipping flippin’ burgers… continue reading on Alex Morris’s blog.

Breaking Language Barriers at Lost River Cave

Walk into the Gift Shop at Lost River Cave on any Saturday during June, July or August, and you will likel meet visitors not only from all over the United States, but also from across the world.

Veteran tour guide Alex Morris had a memorable international moment at Lost River Cave this week. Alex, who’s studied Spanish for the past two years and experienced it firsthand while traveling abroad in Mexico and Guatemala, welcomed two visitors from Spain as they dropped by the cave to see what the underground boat tour was all about. Below is a photo of Alex and her new friend, Nacho, in front of Wildflower Gifts.

Alex communicated with the Spaniards almost entirely in Spanish. She learned they were driving a rented car through the United States and were en route to Nashville and then Raleigh.

While Alex and the rest of the employees at Lost River Cave wouldn’t consider themselves bilingual, they all understand the importance of welcoming multicultural and international visitors and overcoming language barriers.

Anne Michelle Reynolds has worked at Lost River Cave since the beginning of this summer, and occasionally she’s encountered language barriers when communicating with deaf people.

“The most important thing is to be direct, and to use your hands to emphasize,” Anne Michelle said.  “It’s also important to try to be friendly and understanding.”

Cashier Jessica Paull said European languages are frequently spoken, and the cave also gets a lot of visitors from Asia.

“I think I’ve probably seen someone from every culture around the world,” Jessica said.

Alex tries to be inquisitive and still polite to every visitor she meets. She stressed that, as a tour guide, it is important not only to share information to visitors, but also to listen to what other visitors have to say.

“They were really friendly,” Alex said of her new friends from Spain. “Even though the staff picks on me for running off Spanish speakers (because I’m so excited to speak to them), I find that usually when you offer a few words to someone in their native language, they open up to you and are happy you are trying to communicate, even if you do have to ask them to slow down or repeat themselves.”

“I am pretty sure Lost River Cave left them with a good impression,” Alex said of her new acquaintances. “After we chatted in Spanish, they told me in English that they would always remember Kentucky for its hospitality.”

Thousands of visitors pass through Lost River Cave throughout the year for all kinds of different reasons, from celebrating a wedding to walking the nature trails.

“Whether you’re from Kentucky or Cambodia, we want you to feel welcome at Lost River Cave,” said Lost River Cave’s Executive Director Rho Lansden.

Employee Spotlight: Kathy Kontio

Summer is the busiest season at Lost River Cave, and we can’t say thank you enough to the staff for their hard work. Lost River Cave recognizes wonderful individuals who keep us afloat, from tour guides to cashiers to maintenance.

Kathy Kontio is originally from Bowling Green and graduated from Michigan Tech with a Bachelor’s in Ecology. After college, she had bird field jobs in various states. Kathy has worked with endangered birds like the California Condor and the Piping Plover. She was in AmeriCorps for two years in New York State where she started working in environmental education. Kathy started working as a tour guide for Lost River Cave this summer.   

Q & A with Kathy

What originally brought you to Lost River Cave?  Well, I’m from Bowling Green, and I saw a job opening and it’s the perfect place; are you kidding me?!

How is Lost River Cave different from any other employer you’ve ever had?  Well I get to drive a boat in a cave, and that’s pretty sweet.

Have your thoughts on caves or nature changed at all since you’ve been here? It has strengthened my realization that I want to stay in the Ecology field for a career.  

Have you had any memorable visitors during your time working here? I had someone from Holland on my tour, but no famous people or anything as far as I know.  

What do you think the WORST corny cave joke is? “Oh I see you left some people at the dam for me to pick up.” (One boat driver says to the other boat driver in the cave.)

Have you had much opportunity to travel, if so where to? Or, where would you like to go? I’ve travelled a lot to go to different places for work in the United States.  I’d like to go to New Zealand and Europe.

For visitors reading this, do you have any recommendation for where to tour/eat/explore in the Bowling Green area or all of Kentucky?  I did the zip-lining at Mega Caverns in Louisville; it’s the only underground zip line in the world. It’s totally worth it.   

Any last words of wisdom for your visitors reading this? We’ll get to the cave eventually.

Employee Spotlight: Blake Garrison

Summer is the busiest season at Lost River Cave, and we can’t say thank you enough to the staff for their hard work. Lost River Cave recognizes wonderful individuals who keep us afloat, from tour guides to cashiers to maintenance.

Blake Garrison is originally from right here in Bowling Green.  He is a film major at Western Kentucky University, and he will be graduating next spring.  He started working as a tour guide at Lost River Cave this summer.

Q &A with Blake

What originally brought you to Lost River Cave? Well I heard about the job opportunity as a tour guide, and it just sounded like an exciting interesting thing to do over the summer. I could meet a lot of interesting people in the tour industry and teach them something.

 How is Lost River Cave different from any other employer you’ve ever had? Where to begin? Well it’s enjoyable first of all. When I’m here it doesn’t really feel like a job most of the time. It’s a fun job with fun people.

 
Have your thoughts on caves or nature changed at all since you’ve been here? I’ve definitely learned a lot more about caves and cave systems. As far as my thoughts on nature in general, it’s always been my opinion that people should learn about it and enjoy it.

 
Have you had any memorable visitors during your time working here?
There was a mother and son from Lithuania, and they were memorable because I was able to relate to them because I visited Lithuania last summer. It was a “small world” situation.

What do you think the WORST corny cave joke is? I heard a joke during my interview, I’ve never told it, but it’s the pillars joke. “Stalactites hold tight to the ceiling, stalagmites might grow up and touch the ceiling. A stalactite and stalagmites grow together they form a column or a pillar, but you know we are in Kentucky, so we call them columns because we all sleep on our pillars.”  

Have you had much opportunity to travel, if so where to? Or, where would you like to go? I have had an opportunity to travel. Last summer I took a driving trip from Beijing, China across Asia and Europe all the way to Paris, France. It was a lot more intense than I thought it would be going into it, but it was a great experience. I think everyone should try to travel more. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia and New Zealand. 

For visitors reading this, do you have any recommendation for where to tour/eat/explore in the Bowling Green area or all of Kentucky? I’ll start with Bowling Green: my food recommendations in Bowling Green would either be Mellow Mushroom or Buckhead Café. One of my favorite places to go which is close to Bowling Green is Land Between The Lakes. If you’re down for a trip, you can just get all your gear and just camp out right on the side of the lake. It’s amazing.  

Any last words of wisdom for your visitors reading this? Enjoy yourself.

Employee Spotlight: Andrea Falcetto

Summer is the busiest season at Lost River Cave, and we can’t say thank you enough to the staff for their hard work. Lost River Cave recognizes wonderful individuals who keep us afloat, from tour guides to cashiers to maintenance.

Andrea Falcetto first started working at Lost River Cave in May 2010.  Andrea is currently getting her Master’s Degree in Biology and Sociology at Western Kentucky University, and she’s had the opportunity to travel to Kenya and South Africa to work in her field. She is a return Peace Corps Volunteer from Morocco, and she’s also travelled to other various countries all over the world. Andrea is originally from Kansas, and after she graduates she hopes to work for an international conservation organization.  Lost River Cave appreciates Andrea’s hard work as a tour guide, and we wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors.  

Q &A with Andrea Falcetto

What originally brought you to Lost River Cave?  During the school year I was teaching for the biology department, and I needed income for the summer. It was a good job for me because of my previous experience working in zoos and aquariums. Restaurants won’t hire a girl who works around fish.

How is Lost River Cave different from any other employer you’ve ever had? I grew up in Kansas. We don’t have caves in Kansas.  

Have your thoughts on caves or nature changed at all since you’ve been here? I would say I’ve learned more about caves, but I’ve always enjoyed working outside.
 
Have you had any memorable visitors during your time working here?  I made a joke about a cave monster being in the cave and the three year old on my tour started making ghost noises to scare away the cave monster. It happened the other day, and it was adorable.

What do you think the WORST corny cave joke is? “What do you call a deer with no eyes?  I’ve no ideer.” I worked here for three years, and I didn’t get the joke until three weeks ago.

Have you had much opportunity to travel, if so where to? Or, where would you like to go? I’ve travelled to six continents and would love to go to Antarctica, but the next place I want to visit is Greece. However, I am an opportunist, and I will go wherever the opportunity presents!

For visitors reading this, do you have any recommendation for where to tour/eat/explore in the Bowling Green area or all of Kentucky? In Bowling Green, Chaney’s Dairy Barn and the Corsair Distillery downtown. Also in Kentucky, the bourbon trail is amazing.

Any last words of wisdom for your visitors reading this? There really is a cave monster, don’t let them tell you otherwise!

Employee Spotlight: Chris Inman

Summer is the busiest season at Lost River Cave, and we can’t say thank you enough to the staff for their hard work. Lost River Cave recognizes wonderful individuals who keep us afloat, from tour guides to cashiers to maintenance.

Chris Inman is originally from Louisville, and he came to Bowling Green to attend Western Kentucky University.  Chris started working for Lost River Cave as a tour guide in January, and he graduated from WKU in May with a degree in communication.

What originally brought you to Lost River Cave? We were on a field trip for my Nonprofit Management Class, and we were pulling invasive plants at Lost River Cave. Naturalist Annie Holt introduced us to the park, and I was interested.  What really attracted me were the upcoming plans for the Outdoor Classroom. I wanted to work with kids, and I like the outdoors. I really liked giving third graders tours near the end of the school year; that was great.
 

How is LRC different from any other employer you’ve ever had?They want to see us excel at what we are good at, and it’s not just an unskilled job.

Have your thoughts on caves or nature changed at all since you’ve been here?  Yes, actually I just developed a new hobby I’m pretty excited about: pulling things out of nature, preparing them, cooking them and eating them.  I boiled cattail roots from the Wetland (when we were removing them anyway), I’ve had my first crawfish boil with crawfish caught at Boatlanding Park, and I go camping more often.  

Have you had any memorable visitors during your time working here?  I got to give a tour to Phillip Smith.  He has written several books, and he is also a caver. He is the one who discovered the “meat grinder,” a very thin passage that connects two very large cave systems. He actually has two books for sale in our gift shop.  He’s also a prominent member of Toastmasters, and he complimented me on my tour which is pretty awesome.

What do you think the WORST corny cave joke is? What’s the difference between a Northern Cave Fish and a Southern Cave Fish? The Southern Cave Fish drinks sugar in its tea. 

Have you had much opportunity to travel, if so where to, or where would you like to go?

I’ve been to Washington State; I saw their beaches that had giant whitewashed driftwood; I saw their enormous Redwood trees. I’ve been to Costa Rica and all along everything there is to see in the New England area.  I’ve been lots of places. The next place I want to go is probably New Zealand.

For visitors reading this, do you have any recommendation for where to tour/eat/explore in the Bowling Green area or all of Kentucky? Honestly, I think our nature trails are one of the coolest things in Bowling Green. 

Any last words of wisdom for your visitors reading this? Get away from the screens that we Americans have become obsessed with: Ipod, TV, computer, etc. Enjoy nature and face-to-face interactions with people.

Employee Spotlight: Crys Smith

Summer is the busiest season at Lost River Cave, and we can’t say thank you enough to the staff for their hard work. Lost River Cave recognizes wonderful individuals who keep us afloat, from tour guides to cashiers to maintenance.

Crys Smith has lived in eight states, and she moved to Bowling Green in August of 2009. She graduated in May with three majors from Western Kentucky University. Her majors are Biology, Middle School Science Education and Science Math Education. She just accepted an 8th grade teaching position in science for West Creek Middle School in Clarksville, TN.  It has been wonderful to have Crys as a tour guide at Lost River Cave this summer, and we wish her the best of luck with her new job. 

Q &A with Crys

What originally brought you to Lost River Cave? A geology professor at Western told me that there were job positions open and I should apply. I’d never been here or to Mammoth Cave before then.

 How is Lost River Cave different from any other employer you’ve ever had? Oh gee whiz, let’s see. Well, it’s outside. I usually don’t work outside, but it’s a lot cooler in the valley than people realize and the cave is cooler as well.  Working with the public, this is an opportunity for me to be explaining to them something that they may not know.
  
Have your thoughts on caves or nature changed at all since you’ve been here? The caves. I’d never been in one, and I didn’t know what one looked like. The humidity inside the cave surprised me, especially when the fog rolls in.  

Have you had any memorable visitors during your time working here?
Oh gosh yes. There was a group of livewires from East Kentucky. They rode in on their motorcycles. I started talking with one gentleman on the porch not realizing he was going to be on my tour. When I got down there and started talking to the group, the gentleman stepped up and commented on how obnoxious he was and how much trouble he was going to be. I laughed and said I was a middle school science teacher and I just had a group of 130 14-year-olds. Bring it on!  They howled and said I was on a mission from God.  Little things like that just stick with you. 

What do you think the WORST corny cave joke is?
The difference between the column and the pillars joke. The column is when a stalactite and stalagmite meet, while the pillar is what we sleep on here in Kentucky.

Have you had much opportunity to travel, if so where to? Or where would you like to go?  I have been all over the country. If I could travel anywhere, I’d like to see Canada and Europe.

For visitors reading this, do you have any recommendation for where to tour/eat/explore in the Bowling Green area or all of Kentucky?
Buckhead Cafe is my favorite place to eat. Their French Onion soup is out of this world.  They have the best in town.  I personally would like to go on tours of distilleries in this area. That’s cool, that’s Kentucky history at its best.

Any last words of wisdom for your visitors reading this? Anything you could possibly want to do, you can find in Kentucky.