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.
Chapter 5 Paying My Dues (Part 2)
Next came a summer at Big South Fork National Recreation Area in Tennessee as a Youth Conservation Corps Leader, again. Great place for a little white water rafting. The place was vast with over a 125,000 acres and I got to experience a new skill, trying to find a lost child in that large area. But our team was successful and I received a nice letter of accommodation. Again at the end of the summer I didn’t have a whole lot of cash to show for a summer of work. Between the seasonal positions only and the low pay, I’m sure Mom and Dad were wondering if I was going to be a permanent fixture in their house.
I finally landed a full time position, just not quite what I had in mind. I was hired as a grounds leader for Cuyahoga County (Cleveland area) Board of Mental Retardation. I had a crew of 5 mentally challenged adults that used mowers and weed eaters to cut grass for businesses. It was an extremely challenging and in the end a very rewarding position. Before leaving I discovered my boss was quite a bit more challenged then those wonderful folks working for me.
And then it happened in September of 1986, the call my parents had been waiting for…