Last updated: June 28, 2017
Modern Day Nomads
This is dedicated to Ranger John Davis. In his two years at Carlsbad Caverns, he touched the lives of visitors and coworkers alike. We wish him well on his further travels and know we’ll see him again as we continue to explore and interpret our national parks.
Visitors at national parks tend to be curious people. They like asking the wheres, whys, and hows. Where do the bats live? Why did Jim White decide to explore the cave? How do we know we get everyone out of the cave each night? Generally the questions are about the park, but sometimes those questions are about park rangers. Where do you live? Why do you want to work at Carlsbad Caverns? How do you move to a different park?
The rangers here at the cave are a diverse group. Ranger Virginia has called this area of New Mexico and Texas home for most of her life. She loves the cave so much, she plans to stay here until she retires. Ranger Dustin, on the other hand, has been here at the cave a little over a year. Prior to Carlsbad he worked in Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Mount Rushmore. He’d love to end up closer to his family in Georgia. In all his travels, his love for the green and humidity of the Southeast has never dimmed.
Virginia and Dustin are at almost opposite ends of the same spectrum. Most rangers fall somewhere in the middle. We move to where we find work, stay for a time, and when our feet get itchy, we move to a new park. Some of us have “dream parks” where we’d like to work, but we tend to be a pretty open-minded group. We know that a great deal of the adventure is the journey getting to where you’d like to be.
Because we move so often, you’ll find many park rangers have a limited social and family life outside the National Park Service (NPS). By embracing the NPS lifestyle, rangers become modern-day nomads. Our coworkers become our friends and family. We celebrate milestones like birthdays, weddings, and retirements together. We grieve together during times of loss. Just like traditional families, we don’t always agree on everything, but we band together during tough times.
If you’re considering becoming a ranger, make sure you take our love of moving and living in new places into account. It’s not the most conventional way to live, but the rewards are tremendous. You might go years between seeing your friends, but you usually find a friend located where you travel. If you’d like to join us and become a modern-day nomad, we’d love for you to join our family.