Ed Note: Readers you are in for a treat as Tom Cervenak, Visitor Services and Marketing Manager for Virginia State Parks, weaves the story of how he came to work for parks and what his career has been like. This series will run nine chapters, with many of them split into two parts.
Being a Park Ranger had so many more scenarios than portrayed by Ranger Smith in the Yogi the Bear cartoon and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Without a doubt one of the very best parts of this job, is that no two days are ever exactly alike. There are too many variables to the job that keep it changing. You will never see everything in a career as a Park Ranger. The visitors change, the wildlife gives you something special you never seen before, the plants change like the seasons and the requirements of the job itself are always on the move.
When you work at a park, you learn how to do everything, you have to as staffs are small. Douthat is one of our original parks from the 1930’s and after 50 years of operation, I found myself working on maintenance, repairing sewer and water lines, replacing roofs, replacing chinking between the logs of the original cabins and of course some of your more normal stuff like cutting grass, cleaning restrooms, picking up trash, leading interpretive programs and providing great customer service.
I loved it all, I was doing what I had wanted to do since I was a young kid on the streets of Cleveland. My career took off too as I left Douthat after only 7 months to become an Assistant Park Manager at Fairy Stone. It was here that I acquired my Law Enforcement certification, a totally new part of being a Park Ranger.