Monday, June 30, 2008

A Meadow Rover's Short Story from the Heart

Submitted by Greg Carstens, Paradise Meadow Rover

I have come a long way since 2006 when I first looked into the Meadow Roving program at Mount Rainier. A lot sure has happened since that day when I first met Kevin Bacher in July of 2006. I am forever grateful to him and many other park staff to this day all the way up to Superintendent Uberauga for giving me a chance to help the park in any way I can.

Many of you do not know my background and there are still many of you I have yet to meet and shake hands with personally. I was happy to finally meet Pete Sabin yesterday at the meadow rover training because I have heard and read about this man and how he has been involved so much with park for quite some time.

Back in 2005 I was working fulltime for Horizon Air on the Seatac ramp servicing aircraft. I did this until October of 2006. Unfortunately I damaged my left leg severely and it made it very hard to walk on by September of 2006. It was discovered in 2007 by Doctor Robert Osborne in Puyallup at Cascade Vascular Associates that I have an incurable disease known as lymph edema. It's not contagious at all but it is common across the world. It basically is build up fluid in the lymph nodes which makes the limbs swell which can sometimes be uncomfortable. Fortunately I am still able to walk and enjoy the park in any way. I just can't bang the leg on anything or put it in harms way so some trail work and perhaps a lot of the work the trail crews do might be out of the question but I did talk to Jill Baum with the SCA and she said I would probably be able to do some raking and that sort of thing. Generally anything not to heavy. I agreed with her on that.

In 2006 of May my Step Father Robert J. Eckroth died of liver cancer. This man worked in public service as a firefighter from 1965 to 1995 for the Tacoma Fire Department. After he died I wanted to change my life and go into another direction and also follow in his foot steps sort of. I knew that with the leg the way it was I would not be a firefighter like he was and age was probably at the time an issue also. There was another option though and that was to begin looking at agencies like the National Park Service that I always had interest in but it was usually in the back of my mind but always my heart made me wonder. What if?

Now I am exploring all the possibilities with the National Park Service as I currently intern at Longmire in the Natural and Cultural Resources Division. A division in the National Park Service I had never even known about until this summer. I will forever be grateful to my Supervisor Darin Swinney for calling me back in April and asking me if I was still interested in working with him. The answer was of course a resounding, yes! I do have Rick Zamore to thank as well with the SCA also.

This is my third summer in the meadow rover program at Mount Rainier. I sign up for it because I simply care about the park. It helps that the park is only 45 miles from home also. I love all the parks I have been to. I volunteered for a short time at the Old Faithful Visitors Center in 1985 at Yellowstone National Park. I have also spent some brief time in Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Crater Lake, and North Cascades as a visitor as well.

One thing I love more than even all the parks and probably anything in the world though is my Mother. She really did well since May of 2006 but I remember her telling me how she cried after my Step Dad died when she went to trim the plants in the many gardens he left behind that had some of the most beautiful flowers you will ever see.

I am hear to tell you all right now I spent nights myself crying as I worried so much about her becoming lonely after being married to my Step Father for 36 years. It hurt me as well because he was the only real father I ever had from the time I was five years old. To this day I still visit my mother twice a week and I take care of a lot of those flowers for her in the yard. The flowers continue to grow more beautiful than ever under my care. I had many rhododendrons bloom out to about twelve inches across this spring. When I saw this I knew I had a true knack for caring for natural things and when the flowers grew so well I got a little emotional because I know my Step Father in spirit must have showed me what to do when I tried to take care of them for the first time.

My mother is doing a lot better these days. She has met a retired school councilor from Olympia and he has told her that he loves her and they have already been to Hawaii together and are planning more trips together including the Inside Passage to Alaska. I am a little envious and would love to travel in both those places and who knows maybe one day I will work in one of our parks in those areas one day.

I plan on building up my college credits this fall, winter, and spring coming quarters at Pierce College. I should have about 60 overall and will have some where over 500 hours of service time alone just this year in the park. Right now I am working on getting a Associates transfer degree for a major university and my ultimate goal is to get a Bachelor of Science degree in Atmospheric Science (Meteorology). Short term at least by next summer I hope to apply as one of the many of the many seasonal staff with the National Park Service and I am very open to going to many parks that would have an opportunity for me for my first summer. It would be incredible and great to be at Mount Rainier though.

I hope you all enjoyed this story because it is from my heart and how I feel right now. I am hoping that everyone will have a awesome summer as I am already having this summer at Mount Rainier.

Greg Carstens
SCA Natural Resources Planning Intern
Paradise Meadow Rover
Mount Rainier National Park

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