Field Site Name
Capitol Reef National Park
UT 84775United States
SCA Position Title: Park Interpreter
Site Name: Capitol Reef National Park
Hometown: Winterport, ME
School: Boston College
Dream Job: Being a surgeon in rural Maine while participating in education reform and connecting young people with the outdoors
Current favorite song: Like a Rock by Bob Seger
The person who inspires me most is… Albert Einstein
If I could pass a law… I’d put a carbon tax for individuals and corporations in order to use market forces to combat the negative effects of climate change
If I was a shape shifter I’d turn into… an Artic Tern, a bird that migrates from the Artic to Antartica
My motto: It is the journey, not only the destination.
My most memorable outdoor moment: Waking up in the middle of a foggy night beside a stream in a moss covered ravine in the backcountry of Great Smokey Mountain National park and seeing thousands of blue ﬂashing ﬁre ﬂies ﬁlling up the ravine. I’m fairly certain it was not a dream.
What forces, events, or inﬂuences in your life inspired you to become a conservationist? My earliest memories are walking in the woods with my father. I did not see him too much then, because he supported my mother, sisters, and I by working nights as a nurse in the emergency department of the local hospital. He had to sleep during the day and leave in the evening, but he’d have a few hours in the afternoon. That is the time I saw him the most and we usually went for walks in the woods behind our house.
Theodore Roosevelt said he never would never have become the President if not for his time in North Dakota, and while I will never be close to such a lofty oﬃce, my identity is tied to those walks through the forest with my father. Patience, dedication, suffering, birth, death, love, and beauty are among the things my father let me discover on those walks. He would show me the meaning of patience and dedication by walking through and listening to nothing but the woods for hours. Suffering is a part of the human experience, and he made sure I saw a bird with a broken wing fumbling on the ground. We would always go for extra long walks during spring so we could see all the life, leaves, and green bursting into existence. Down by a stream we would always see patted down areas in a small grove of pines, and my father would say ” A doe and her fawn probably laid here last night” and I’d imagine the deer snuggling together for warmth as the doe lovingly licked her young. We wouldn’t usually stop on these walks unless there was a sunset ( usually in winter because those would be earlier, so he could still get to work on time). I never asked why we stopped because I imagine my father thought it was obvious that beauty should be appreciated, ” To take it all in” I could hear him saying. These are a few lessons I learned but like the conservationist John Muir says, ” In every walk in nature, one receives more than they seek.”
Those experiences have shaped everything that happened afterwards. I have had success in college and in my career and learned how to deal with failure in both of those areas. I have lost family and friends to tragedies of alcohol, drugs and suicide but have been able to accept and live with those experiences. I have been driven to see many of natural wonders across the world as well as meet incredible people. As a teacher, I taught at an inner city school on the West Side of Chicago and would take my students on overnight camping trips. Almost everyone came back saying they enjoyed it and felt like they had learned more than just the science. I organized the trips because I believe that everyone can beneﬁt from what nature can teach. As I’ve gotten older I understand there are other strong arguments for conservation including economic sustainability, inherent dignity of the natural world, and these are all valid, but for me it started with wanting to share with others what I had discovered with my father walking in the woods.
I was once camping in northern Maine and was talking to an old state park ranger there. We got on the topic of why he worked for the park and he said because his father had taken him up in the mountains when he was younger and taught him everything he knew. He said when he was up there now, even though his father had passed, he felt closer to him. These stories are common among many people (farmers, mountaineers, ﬁshermen etc.) that spend time outdoors. Some life lessons can be learned elsewhere and nature cannot teach us everything but nothing is as original and has a longer history than nature. It’s truths and lessons should be cherished, protected, and a word that combines both of those ideas, “conserved.”