|The vessel I worked on for 3 months in Alaska.|
What we do for work is not necessarily who we are, nor should it ever be completely who you are, but if we are to be happy and good at what we do it should be a strong reflection.
|Me tracking Sage Grouse in NE Nevada.|
I looked back on my life and could see only random bits, different skills and experiences I had acquired. I found no common thread. What I knew to be true was that when I found what I was supposed to be doing it would all come together and I would see each portion of my life as the necessary step to bring me to that moment. In writing this I can see deep within me a strong belief that my life has purpose and faith that there is a great spirit guiding me. It has been there most my life. It was born among the forest and desert I freely roamed as a child. There I learned the value of listening and observing.
And so I went back.
I asked myself if money was no thing and there were no limits, what would I want to do with my life? And it dawned on me, a childhood dream I had long forgotten, maybe someone had told me I couldn't, or maybe I had told myself that. Either way I stored the dream away and forgot it but I now had the wisdom and confidence to know that I could do anything. I would be a National Park Ranger. There was no second thought, there was no doubt in my mind or heart it was right.
In late August, 2012 I received a phone call. It was the director of one of the National Park Service Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Programs (SLETP). After a short interview he offered me a position in the upcoming academy class. Attending the SLETP is the first step to becoming a law enforcement park ranger. It is a full-time 14 week law enforcement academy. I had my reservations about becoming a police officer but that is just one aspect of what law enforcement rangers do. They are police, EMT's, paramedics, firefighters, naturalists, and search and rescue. Think of any emergency that may come up in a national park and they respond to it. Most parks or areas of parks are so remote that they are it. I don't believe the public truly understands what they are or what is expected of them. They are the life line. When the shit hits the fan backup is either an hour out or there is none. They must be self reliant problem solvers who are quick on their feet. They are called out in the worst of conditions often in the middle of the night to help stranded, injured, and dieing people. They have to be able to go from arresting someone for DUI after wrestling them into cuffs to dawning their turnouts and fighting a fire to putting on a harness and rappelling over the edge to rescue a fallen climber to giving a foreign visitor driving directions. Possibly all in the same shift. They do it all. Not only that, they do it well. I wanted to be that.
April 29th, 2013 I graduated from the National Park Service Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program top of my class. I maintained a 99% GPA, won the sharpshooter award, tied for top in academics, and was voted by my class as the "most likely to out-drive the criminal". I was awarded the "McGinn and Axelson Scholarship", a scholarship given in honor of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Chief Ranger Brent McGinn and Ranger Laurie Axelson who died in an off-duty plane crash in 2010. It was undoubtedly one of the proudest moment in my life and the greatest honor. I had never done so well in school in my entire life.
|My technical rescue class.|
|First week on patrol.|
It all paid off. After volunteering for over 6 months at Grand Canyon National Park I was offered a
seasonal law enforcement park ranger position at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on the Arizona Utah border. On May 5th, 2014 I became a United Stated Park Ranger. I put on the iconic flat hat and green and gray for the first time. And the best part of all, I could see how each portion of my life had brought me to this moment. It made sense. I had been waiting my entire life.