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 6 Yes Virginia!A Thousand Times Yes!
The support of parents is critical in success of a career: the need to walk the fine line between nagging to get a job already and being supportive in your efforts. As long as I was cutting the grass, helping out around the house and somehow paying my college loan off, Mom and Dad stood by me and my dreams. My roommate from college had already gotten a full time job with Virginia State Parks earlier in 1986. He encouraged me to apply, that there were positions opened as a Chief Ranger, so I did. I took a ride down to interview in Richmond in late August and in September the long awaited call came to Lakewood, Ohio.
My Dad answered the phone and the conversation went something like this:
State Parks Commissioner Baker: Is Tom there?
Dad: No he’s out right now, can I help you?
Commissioner Baker: Well this is Dennis Baker of Virginia State Parks, I was calling to speak with Tom about whether he would like to come work for us as a Chief Ranger. Do you think he would be interested?
Dad: As soon as I hang up the phone, I will be placing his bags on the front porch. I’m guessing he could drive through the night and start sometime tomorrow, will that work?
Commissioner Baker: Well, yes, but we were thinking more like a start date of October 1st.
When I got home, my bags weren’t on the porch yet, but I did have two very happy and relieved parents. Thus, my career with Virginia State Parks began on October 1, 1986 at Douthat State Park.
I was ready. I had a great education, some on the job experience, I was ambitious and I was going to be a Park Ranger living in the woods. But I found out being a Park Ranger was a whole lot more than guarding picnic baskets from Yogi and Booboo…