Clarence Wadkins

SCA Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps, 1990

Clarence WadkinsPark Ranger Interpretive Specialist, NPS Alaska Regional Office

 

Hometown:
Anchorage, Alaska
 
College: 
Langston University, Oklahoma
 
Current Job:
Park Ranger Interpretive Specialist
National Park Service
Alaska Regional Office
 
What led you down the path to SCA?
 
The SCA came to my university in Oklahoma. I went to a Historically Black University, and they provided some training in doing trail construction. I took part in that activity. Afterward I was so interested that I asked about summer opportunities, and I was able to get involved in SCA’s Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps. That changed my career goals completely. I had never known that people did work in the backcountry, the woods, the WILDERNESS. I became connected to the natural world in such a way that it changed my entire outlook on the world and my future.
 
What was one of your most memorable moments with the Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps?

One of my most memorable moments was when I was taking a hike up Mt. Washburn and a bighorn sheep charged down a slope at me. I was taking its picture and I noticed the sheep was getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I finally figured out what was happening and shouted at it. It stopped and turned sideways and just watched me. I hiked away while watching it closely.

Another great moment was during my first week when we went on a hike in Hayden Valley. As we went along I saw the mountains in front of us slowly vanish behind an approaching white void. I asked the leader what that was approaching us. She said it was probably just snow. I was an Okie, I had spent my life in cities, it was JUNE, and I was pretty darn sure that wasn’t snow. But it came upon us and it WAS snow. I was shocked, cold, tired, and questioning whether I had made the right decision to be there in Yellowstone. I began to complain about everything. Well, our leader just called me by name and when I looked up she hit me in the face with a snowball. We had a snowball fight and I simply fell in love with the place!

How did SCA impact your life and career?

My degree is in Corrections and Criminal Justice. My goal from high school through my junior year in college was to go into Law Enforcement and get into internal affairs. I had spent my entire life living in Oklahoma City and Houston and never experiencing the mountains, wilderness, and solitude of the natural world. But after that summer in Yellowstone I never wanted to go back. I set my eyes, heart, and soul on joining the National Park System.

What’s your favorite thing about your current position with NPS?

I have spent 22 years working in the field, and now I work in a regional office. I miss being out in the parks every day and know I will return to one eventually. But for now my greatest joy is training new and upcoming Rangers in the art of interpretation. It’s what I love.

 

Read Jay Satz’s brief history of the Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps here.

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