- What sparked your initial interest in our National Parks?
Growing up in urban Southern California with a father who was obsessed with fly-fishing meant that we took lots of family vacations to national parks so he could get his fix. I soon began to associate the parks with wonderful family memories and they began to feel like home. I never wanted to leave.
- From there, where/how did you begin your journey to becoming a park ranger?
I pretty much always knew that I wanted to be a park ranger, in second grade I even created a piece of art talking about how I wanted to be a park ranger when grew up. I knew it was a competitive job, but just wanted to be in the parks anyways, so I volunteered with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP), they placed me in Grand Teton, and the rest is history.
- Which parks have you worked in?
I have worked in Grand Teton, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon (albeit very briefly in the last one)
- Tell me a little about your photography work and how, perhaps, it’s informed your profession.
I originally started taking photos as a way to try to convince my friends and family to visit me in the Tetons (it worked by the way), and soon I fell in love with the art. Chasing new shots and new perspectives has led me to relentlessly explore places I probably wouldn't have otherwise, and I have come to know Yosemite and Grand Teton like the back of my hand. As a result I have known more about the parks I have worked in than any of my coworkers, and they often come to me with their questions.
- What would you say, or advice would you offer, to someone who was thinking about joining the parks system as a ranger?
Be prepared to work hard. If you are still in school, start looking for internships right away because that's the easiest way in. Its not easy to land a seasonal job, and its even harder to land a permanent gig. But it's worth it. Oh so worth it.
- How would you say you’ve changed since you started working in the parks?
I think that I have become a lot more easy going. Living and working in a remote area, things can go wrong very easily. You see things you never thought you would see, and you never know what your day is going to look like. I have learned to just roll with the punches and adapt quickly to whatever situation I currently have to deal with.
- What’s your best advice for park visitors? Is there anything you’d like people to know before coming into our parks?
Leave No Trace! Rules are in place for a reason, and I know they can be hard to follow. But it really makes so much of a difference what one single person can do (or not do), and how much it can effect others. Additionally, do your research. I can't tell you how many times people are surprised by a closure that has been in place for months, and how it ruins their whole trip. Do your research, follow the rules, and never miss a sunset. That's going to give you the most memorable trip to our parks.
- I don’t want to give away any of your secrets, but is there a place or sight that in any of the Parks you’ve been in that are underrated, live under the radar?
Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite and the 4 Lazy F Ranch in Grand Teton. I don't think I have ever seen a single other person post photos of either on Instagram, but they both in my top 5 of favorite places to photograph ever. If you are headed to one of these two parks, do yourself a favor and check them out. You can thank me later.
- The needs of Rangers often seem to go unspoken. Is there anything I can do, as a Park Visitor, to give back to our Rangers and/or Park Employees?
Just say thank you. The work is hard and it can often seem pretty thankless, but when someone thanks you for your work it definitely reminds you of why you do what you do.
Also, food. Some locals bring by donuts, cookies, or pizzas at least a couple times a week and it makes our day every time. Food makes everyone happy right? You can drop it off at the Visitor’s Center or Entrance Booth.
- Spending as much time in our Parks as you have, I’m sure you’ve seen some incredibly beautiful sunsets, sunrises, vistas, and storms. Tell me about the most spiritual, so to speak, moment you’ve had in our parks.
That is true, I have seen so many things that have taken my breath away, definitely the number one benefit of my job. I would have to say though that the most spiritual moment was actually a couple of weeks ago. For months the waterfalls in Yosemite have been dry, but in the space of a couple hours one Sunday, I watched them come alive again. To see them go from a dry wall to rushing torrent in so little time was absolutely unbelievable. It reminded me of just powerful God is and how quickly things can change or turnaround. I will never forget it as long as I live.
- What’s your current journey looking like? Where do you see your journey taking you?
Well for the next six months I will be working in Yosemite and exploring some of Nor Cal that I didn't get a chance to in the busy summer, and then.. who knows. Maybe Yosemite, maybe Alaska, maybe Glacier. There are so many places that I would like to live and work, so I think I will be park hopping for awhile. Maybe someday I will settle down in either Montana or Idaho.
If you are planning an upcoming trip to Yosemite check out our Yosemite Collection and support trail access and visitor programs with your purchase!
The trails are the gateway to Yosemite’s wilderness, and with over 800 miles, that’s a lot to maintain. The Yosemite tee supports enhancing the visitor experience and helps preserve the parks’ trails for years to come with 50 tees sold equating to 50 meters of trail restored.