Greetings from Yosemite National Park!
My story centers on the profound influence that a family vacation to Yosemite National Park had on me as a nine year old boy. That week-long visit set the stage for a 30 plus year career in Arizona park operations at the local, regional and state levels. My experience at Yosemite opened my young mind to the importance of natural resources, parks and our role as stewards. I recall the wonder and scale of Half Dome, the valley, the raging waters and El Capitan. A specific event was scheduled for the evenings in the campground, that truly captivated me. Campground visitors would gather around a campfire prepared by the park staff that would include an interpretive presentation. The images are so vivid for me to this day. The park ranger walking toward the group, silhouetted from the fire, his badge "sparkling" in the fire light, and of course, the wearing of his iconic ranger campaign hat. The ranger's presentation included information on outdoor education, wildlife, ethics, care of our natural resources and stories of Yosemite. His interpretive and story telling skills, along with the splendor of the park had me "hooked"! I set my sights on a parks-outdoor recreation career that led to positions as a park ranger, manager and superintendent. The very best to all of those that have chosen a career in parks, natural resources and recreation... for you are the frontline educators and caretakers of our nation's parks, recreation and natural areas. Happy 100th anniversary NPS!