SCA 1958, Grand Teton National Park
National Park Service Superintendent, retired | Tularosa, NM
After two years in the US Army, John was seeking a seasonal job with the National Park Service when he discovered SCA. It was the summer of 1958, just SCA’s second year, and John’s interpretive internship at Grand Teton National Park launched a 30-year career with NPS, during which he became the first SCA alumnus to ascend to the level of NPS superintendent, at Moores Creek National Battlefield in North Carolina. We are delighted to share John’s story.
How would you characterize the value of SCA experience for anyone seeking to start a career with NPS?
Excellent! Quite frankly, if it wasn’t for SCA, I would never have qualified for permanent or seasonal employment with NPS. Even at that time, there was a lot of competition for NPS positions. But the Interpretive Division at Grand Teton observed my work as an SCA-er in 1958 and, based on the work I had done for them, offered me my first temporary job beginning in July, 1959.
What followed after that?
Two more summer positions in the Tetons, which bookended seasonal positions at Arches National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and Everglades National Park. In the fall of 1961, a permanent guide position opened at Carlsbad Caverns. SCA helped me considerably in getting the Caverns position. I transferred out to Montezuma Castle National Monument a little over a year later, where I met Joanne, my to-be wife.
You became superintendent of Moores Creek in 1978, SCA’s first. Was that a big deal back then?
One of SCA’s participants was bound to have that honor. I was the fortunate one.
Did you bring on SCA members where you worked?
Honestly, I was never in a position where bringing in SCA crews and interns was a possibility. However, I always inquired when visiting an area if SCA-ers were working there. My daughter, Mary-Margaret, became an SCA participant at Mesa Verde about 25 years after I did. And my brother, Larry, was an SCA trail maintenance supervisor at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Are there any SCA memories that still come to mind all these years later?
Oh, yes. All the good times we had on our free time; evenings, weekends, hiking trails in the Teton Range. Attending seminars arranged for us with Olaus and Mardy Murie. I still keep up with a few of the 1958 participants, as well as [SCA Founder] Liz and Bruce Putnam.
What if any lessons from your SCA days do you still carry today?
This too is difficult to answer. My whole life has been affected by the attitudes I gained over the years as a result of those wonderful experiences gained during that iconic Summer of 1958 and my subsequent career with NPS!