As part of SCA’s 50th Anniversary celebration at Olympic National Park, alumni who served there were invited to share their experiences for a memory book. We excerpt a few of the early submissions for you here.
Fraser Brewer Gilbane, high school crew member, 1970, and current SCA Board member
I wanted to share a memory from my wonderful four weeks on a high school crew with SCA. Although it was 37 years ago, much of that summer remains indelibly etched in my memory. We had a terrific “home” site – camping along the icy blue glacial waters of the Elwha River.
We did major trail work, built stairs and breaks, rechinked a horse shelter and cabin and then…there was more trail work… it was hard, dirty and satisfying work accomplished by our crew.
After three weeks of work, our day-long hike out was long, heavy and challenging. Our very last ascent was up a slippery and seemingly endless snow field, which we wondered if we’d ever get to the end of. Surprisingly, as the summit appeared, so too did a droning sound in the sky. Eyes upward, we watched an NPS airplane buzz us, and watched three loaded parachutes emerge from the plane.
Not knowing what was jettisoned, we scrambled to the top of the ridge – to find 3 large tubs of ice cream and a note from the Park Service thanking us for the work done on the Elwha.
What a delicious treat for our tired and hungry group – and what a great way to say thanks from the NPS!
Marty Hayne Talbot, Liz’s colleague, 1957 to today
Ride horseback for 20 minutes, hike 20 minutes, ride, hike, ride, hike, up the step trail surrounded by big trees. As soon as you got in the rhythm of riding, you had to get off and hike. As soon as you got into the rhythm of hiking you had to get back on the white horse and ride. But you were not lame at the end of the day! This is one of my most vivid memories and lessons from the pilot Student Conservation Program in Olympic National Park in 1957.
To help organize the Program (now SCA) I was observing this first group of SCP volunteers – three college-age male students and three college-age female students. One of those young women was Mary Meagher, a wildlife biologist who later went on to do significant research on bison in Wyoming and Montana. I bunked with the female SCPers in the newly built Nature Center or camped out when observing the 15 high school boys (no high school girls at that time).
I find it tremendously exciting to realize that these early participants in SCP, especially those in Olympic National Park, really started what has grown into such an amazingly successful organization which now has nearly 50,000 alums!
Enid Dolstad, SCA’s first Field Supervisor (with her late husband, Jack) 1958, continuing to 1970; and Co-Executive Director with Jack 1970-75
In 1958 when we heard that a new program at Olympic National Park was looking for a couple to supervise high school students to do volunteer work there, Jack and I jumped at the chance. When we met this ambitious, optimistic young college graduate, Elizabeth Cushman, we thought that she could be the leader of a whole new movement.
And, she was. From the start, Liz has been persuasive, confident, enthusiastic, patient, innovative, energetic, persistent – in fact, formidable. Now, our country has this national, continuing service from eager young people volunteering for widespread environmental projects.
Cheers for you, Liz Cushman Titus Putnam. Thank you for being you and for your friendship over all these years.