Veteran Story: Michael Frederick

A US Marine in dress uniform
Michael Frederick serving as an embassy guard at the American embassy, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Photo courtesy Michael Frederick

Michael Frederick

Hometown

Baltimore, Maryland

Title

Lead Park Guide, Canyonlands National Park

Military Service

Veteran, US Marine Corps and US Navy

Michael served as an embassy guard in Luxembourg and Cyprus where he was awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation for defense of US embassies during armed attacks. He also served two deployments on board the USS Saratoga where he received two Navy Unit Citations and a Certificate of Commendation from the captain of the Saratoga.

a ranger in uniform with flat, straw hat
Michael Frederick at work in Canyonlands National Park

Photo courtesy Michael Frederick

Michael's Story

How did you make the transition from the military to the National Park Service?
"I had a career as a human resources director in the private sector between the military and NPS. The company I had worked for for 14 years went out of business. Wondering what I should do next, I thought, 'I'm always spending a lot of time and money traveling to national parks, I should work for them.' After visits to Sequoia, Crater Lake and Great Smoky Mountains, watching rangers in action and attending some programs, I decided that's what I wanted to do. My first park was at Sitka, in Alaska in 2010, and I haven't looked back since."

How does your military experience impact who you are in your NPS career today?
"My time in the military prepared me for living and working in small, close-knit communities. Often you live, socialize and work with the same people. You have to be flexible and adaptable or you won't survive, whether it's a military post, on a ship or a small NPS unit or district."

How did your military service and skills contribute to your role today with the NPS?
"I find that the discipline I learned in the Marines makes a lot of responsibilities a lot easier. Some things are simple no-brainers—getting to work on time, wearing the uniform in a proper, regulation manner, respect and care for the flag, and doing what you're told, when you're told. The military matures a person, meaning the job, no matter the position, is taken seriously and done to the best of your ability. It also makes the transient life of a seasonal easy to adapt to. Maintaining a minimalist lifestyle and traveling only with necessities (lots of gear, of course) go hand in hand in the military and the seasonal NPS."

What makes your park special?
"While not on the national radar like some of the more famous parks, Canyonlands is unlike any other. The confluence of two rivers, dozens of canyons, mesas, buttes, spires, arches, archaeological sites, views of three mountain ranges and always-changing light make Canyonlands a unique place. Three distinctly different districts where hiking, biking, rafting, camping, climbing, off-road driving and other outdoor activities make for a lifetime of adventure. Often visitors tell us they like our park more than the Grand Canyon. I tend to agree."