Fires in the Shadow of the Moon

I began my role here at Sawtooth National Forest back in 2014.

When I was a kid I wanted to be a lot of things but a park ranger was certainly not one of them.

It might sound super dorky, but I’ve got no shame in admitting that Bill Gates was my hero as a child. Back then, before the rise of other competing tech firms and internet moguls, having a passion for technology did not put you in good stead with other kids. During the 90s rigid gender norms were still in place and, regardless of the bright future that everyone saw the 21st century bringing us, it was not ‘cool’ to be into computers.

My Father took the same view as the kids in school. Regardless of the ever increasing presence of technology in our lives my Dad was a man of simple tastes and values. He didn’t believe in a hard day’s work that didn’t involve some kind of manual labour, was rarely seen without his worn Dickies trucker cap and could not be separated from the TV when any kind of sport was on. Needless to say, there was very little we had in common.

Although my grades were half decent it was decided that I wouldn’t go to college. We may not have had anything in common, a fact that I my Father was certainly well aware of, but that did not stop him from directing me down the same path that he trod 40 years earlier. He got me a job straight out of school working for his scrap removal firm: ‘A job for life‘ he told me, as if it were something to take solace in rather than despair.

With so few jobs in our local town and very few business start ups for young entrepreneurs it looked like I was destined to trudge in my Father’s footsteps for the rest of my life, until I stumbled across a job in the local newspaper that piqued my interest…

The advertisement was clear enough:

Park Ranger Needed

No Experience Required, but must have Full Driving License.

The ad jumped at me from the newspaper whilst I was idly scanning it. It was so simple. There was no mention of price, but I was getting paid next to nothing working for my Father as it was – so what was the difference?

I didn’t tell him when I got the job. There was no need to. I didn’t have a contract with him, I had my own place and my own car.

I joined a team of 30 other rangers on August 21st 2017, a day that I will always remember as my first day in a job that I felt truly valued. It was memorable for my new team mates as well. The Solar Eclipse attracted thousands of people to the Park, all of whom brought their families, cars, tents and BBQs. Our job that day was simple, spread out and ensure the safety of thousands.

It felt good to finally have a purpose and that’s how every day since has felt.