I was raised in central Utah surrounded by family members and troop leaders that exemplified the Oath and Law of the Boy Scouts of America. I had the wonderful opportunity to be a member of an active Cub Scout pack with dedicated leaders who helped me earn all of the Webelos Activity Pins and Arrow of Light.
As I grew older and became a Boy Scout, I was provided with many outdoor experiences as my troop visited the National Parks and participated in week-long trips to Camp Maple Dell and Camp Steiner. My love of nature and Scouting continued to grow as I worked on staff at Maple Dell Scout Camp, Scofield Scout Camp, and Tifie Scout Camp at Mountain Dell Scout Ranch.
Along my trail to becoming an Eagle Scout I was able to earn numerous merit badges with the help of leaders and counselors who taught me outdoor ethics, and provided me with a deep love for our American heritage and the spirit of Scouting.
In the spring of 2009, I began looking for summer employment around Cedar City, Utah. I was nearing completion of my first year at Southern Utah University and I knew that I wanted to stay in the area throughout the coming summer months. I had fallen in love with the beautiful red rock of southern Utah and I had no desire of leaving the area to become a salesman in another state. While attending a career fair on campus at SUU, I was directed to a booth managed by the National Park Service. I spent a few minutes talking with the Park Rangers from Zion about jobs available for the summer season; leaving the fair with application papers in hand.
Several days later I found myself within the majestic walls of Zion National Park in an interview with the Chief of Interpretation. He asked me about my experience in the great outdoors and what qualifications I had that related to the position. My mind suddenly filled with memories of camping trips and adventures with my troop in Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Zion National Park. I thought of the merit badges that I had earned: Camping, Environmental Science, Geology, Forestry, Hiking, Mammal Study, and Nature; all of them directly linked to the duties and responsibilities of a National Park Service Ranger. In the interview I shared with him my personal stories of time spent within the park and of the lessons that I had learned during my days wearing the uniform of the Boy Scouts of America.
Thus began a new chapter in my life; working in Zion National Park as an interpretive ranger. The language that I spoke was of trees and flowers, canyons and cacti, of rocks and the rivers that over time eroded them into the mysterious shapes and narrow passages that we see today. I guided ranger-led hikes, gave evening programs, and offered talks about the geology, animals, and the history of the park. I began to venture into the vast wilderness of Zion where I expanded my knowledge of the Leave No Trace principles and ethics that I was taught during my camping trips as a Scout. As a ranger I found a new appreciation for the American lands that are our National Parks.
As we prepare for the 100 year centennial of the National Park Service, I now have the unique opportunity of sharing my love of the great outdoors, and my passion for the National Parks with each of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts that come to visit Zion. This 2015 season, as an interpretive wilderness ranger, I will be working alongside our Scouts teaching Leave No Trace ethics, participating in service projects, and providing our boys with the resources necessary to complete various merit badges and activity pin requirements. I invite each Cub Scout, Boy Scout, den leader, and Scoutmaster to look for ways to experience their National Parks while honoring and magnifying the Scout Oath and Law. I am truly grateful for the lifelong lessons that I learned as a Boy Scout that helped prepare me to become a park ranger, and for the opportunity that I now have to help others on their own personal trails through life.
I will be available to answer questions, and to help our Scouts and leaders safely plan trips into the park, share with them the resources of how to prepare for time spent in the Zion Wilderness, and to provide Leave No Trace trainings. If you or any of the leaders in your district have questions about visiting Zion during the 2015 summer season, please feel free to contact me.