JEROME, Idaho — Inside the Minidoka National Historic Site Visitor Center, explorers will find a passionate and creative ranger who offers tours, shares stories and educates the community about the site.
After joining the site in 2019 as an intern, Emily Teraoka is now the Director of Interpretation and Education and Senior Park Ranger for Minidoka National Historic Site in Jerome.
Becoming a ranger was not Teraoka’s original plan, but she soon realized that it suited her perfectly.
“I really love the personal stories that make up America and thinking about what it means to be an American but within all of these different diverse communities,” Teraoka said.
Teraoka shares a unique bond with Minidoka, as a Mexican American of Japanese descent, she was able to reconnect with her family’s history.
His grandparents were driven from their homes and forced to live in internment camps.
“Nobody ever really talked about their experiences. My grandparents died before I was born, but even their siblings who were still there, I tried to ask them questions and they didn’t really care. talked about a lot,” Teraoka said.
As the park’s ranger, Emily Teraoka researches, writes, and finds ways to tell these untold stories to preserve this important piece of history.
“Coming here and being able to learn more, to work with the site…and to work with the survivors, it was a really special connection,” she said.
As a woman and a person of color, Teraoka said it was nice to be able to normalize the expectations of the various communities representing the national park services.
Emily Teraoka strives to make the Minidoka Historic Site an inclusive place for everyone.