The Student Conservation Association is saddened to report the passing of Carroll Vogel. Among the organization's most influential leaders, his visionary involvement with SCA continues to touch the lives of young leaders seeking out pathways to outdoor education and service to the environment.
Carroll joined SCA in the early 1980s when he led high school work groups building trails and bridges in the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park where he learned the use of native materials and what could be carried on pack strings. He also became an expert in the sharpening, use, and heritage of crosscut saws.
As director of SCA's Northwest office, Carroll was instrumental in launching programs for
developmentally challenged young people, for adjudicated young men, and Work Skills, SCA's training program for crew leaders, land-management agencies, and conservation groups.
When the fires of 1988 burned more than a third of Yellowstone's 2.2 million acres, he helped organize and lead the Yellowstone Recovery Corps, bringing hundreds of volunteers to Wyoming over the next three years to restore trails and bridges. The program was recognized by President George H. W. Bush with a "Points of Light" designation.
Carroll left SCA in the early 1990s to found Sahale, a company of friends and family devoted to building bridges and trails. "His bridges represent nothing less than a triumph of the human spirit, our ability to overcome a seemingly impossible obstacles," explained his wife Jennifer Knauer, herself an SCA veteran.
Among his other passions was a ferocious defense of sea life. In the early years of the Sea Shepherd Society, he served as chief engineer aboard ships that helped stop drift netting in the North Pacific, seal hunting off the Canadian coast, and whaling in Neah Bay.
"He really believed one's work should reflect one's passion," Jennifer recalled. "It should inspire you to get up every day. Nobody should have a job just to pay the bills, but one that reflects who you are as an individual."
As much as he loved work (his five-day Work Skills courses became famous for including six-day bridge projects), Carroll also delighted in evenings around the campfire with his guitar and mandolin, singing folk songs with friends and telling stories.
Perhaps his greatest role was as father to his children Skye, Conor, and Stella. He and Jennifer gave them a love of nature, a sense of responsibility for the planet, and great wonder in everything around them.
Carroll's contributions to SCA live on through the programs he helped launch. Many of the young people who volunteered for his backcountry crews have become SCA crew leaders themselves, carrying with them Carroll's spirit of adventure, devotion to conservation issues, and delight in making the act of building a bridge an exercise in art, philosophy, and vision. Add the terrific people his children are becoming, and Carroll has left a magnificent legacy for the future of the planet.
Paul Watson, Carroll's close friend and founder of the Sea Shepherd Society, summed up Carroll's life this way. "Here was a man with a passion for nature and adventure blazing in his heart who took on impossible missions and fulfilled them."