SOLE Interview for Women’s Equality Day


(Left to Right): Andrea Dumais, Cathy Brons, and Erin Kendall.

What is like to be a Park Ranger in the mountains? What about an Education Coordinator in Durango or a Schools Program Coordinator in Denver? August 26th is Women's Equality Day and in honor of the day SOLE asked three women about their jobs with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Interviews:

Andrea Dumais, Park Ranger at Staunton State Park

Cathy Brons, Southwest Region Education and Volunteer Coordinator

Erin Kendall, Schools Program Coordinator

Andrea Dumais

Park Ranger at Staunton State Park

Hello! My name is Andrea, and I am a Park Ranger at Staunton State Park. I have been a ranger here for a little over a year and a half.

What is your favorite thing to do outside and why?

My favorite things to do outside are to hike and camp! I love seeing beautiful areas with just the power of my own two feet, and it is hard to beat a night of sleeping under the stars! There are so many amazing places in Colorado, I never run out of new places to explore.

How did you become interested in working in the Natural Resource field?

I became interested in working in the Natural Resource field when I was studying Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I have always enjoyed recreating outside, but I did not realize that I could make a career of it until I started college. Throughout college, I did a variety of internships and seasonal jobs in the outdoor field including trail crew, being an interpreter at Rocky Mountain National Park, working at an outdoor summer camp for kids, and working as a seasonal ranger at Eldorado Canyon State Park. I loved all of these jobs, but being a ranger offered the best of everything for me. After working seasonally at Eldorado Canyon, I realized I wanted to become a full time ranger with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. I went through the full time application process in 2017, and started at Staunton as a ranger in December of 2018.

What do you do at your job? What is your favorite thing about your job?

There is no such thing as a "typical day" in the life of a park ranger. Every day provides something new, which is something I love about the job! At Staunton, we offer less than a mile of drivable roads to visitors. The only way to explore is by hiking, biking, or horseback riding. Much of my job is patrolling the park ensuring all visitors are having a safe and enjoyable experience. When needed, we assist people who are injured or lost. I check fishing licenses, hike the trails and check on the campground, assist with maintenance around the park including our trails and facilities, answer visitor questions, and supervise seasonal employees. I am in charge of our Visitor Center and revenue, so I hire employees every season and assist them with selling passes, licenses, and retail. I also manage some of our volunteers and assist with providing education programs at the park. One of my favorite parts of this job is getting to spend the majority of my work week outside in such a beautiful place, while helping visitors have an amazing outdoor experience.

What is a cool fact about nature that you know?

A cool secret fact that not a lot of people know is that Ponderosa Pines smell like butterscotch or vanilla (that depends on the person). I love to show this to visitors at the park, even if they think I am crazy at first when I stick my nose up to the tree.

What is one piece of advice that you wish someone had given you when you were younger?

I think it is important for young people to know that it is okay to keep their sense of wonder with the natural world no matter how old you are. You are never too old to get giddy at the site of a beautiful mountain peak, or to jump with joy when you see your favorite wildflower.

Cathy Brons

Southwest Region Education and Volunteer Coordinator

I’m Cathy, a Tennessee native (hey, y’all!) with a deep love for Colorado and two wild boys who call me mama bear. I love to cook, am passionate about health & fitness, and I think nocturnal animals are the coolest even though I am way more of a morning person. We live in the SW [southwest] Corner of the state, near Durango.

What is your favorite thing to do outside and why?

My favorite thing to do outside is hike. Bonus points if there’s a waterfall or aspen leaves are changing…is it cliché? Absolutely!

How did you become interested in working in the Natural Resource field?

As a kid, I made impactful memories growing up chasing fireflies on hot summer nights and exploring the Great Smoky Mountains, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I became interested in

working in the natural resource field. I took my first trip west one summer to work in the Grand Tetons- a life changing experience filled with ‘real’ snow, grizzlies, and exploring all things wild. That adventure lit a calling in me I knew I was meant to pursue, and when I returned to school I changed my major to Forestry and also studied Wildlife & Fisheries.

What do you do at your job? What is your favorite thing about your job?

I work as the SW Region Education & Volunteer Coordinator for CPW – and no week is the same! Getting to engage with staff, volunteers, teachers & partners who are so knowledgeable and passionate for the benefit of Colorado’s natural resources is something I treasure. As a facilitator of professional development and trainings/events, I especially enjoy finding creative ways to connect CPW resources and the benefits of nature to our current and future stewards in meaningful ways.

To sum it up? I feel the most ALIVE and grateful when I get to experience and learn about the outdoors, so being able to help instill and share that feeling with others is simply the best. Nature is therapy!

What is a cool fact about nature that you know?

A cool fact I love about nature is that a group of owls is called a parliament. I’ve always remembered it thanks to C.S. Lewis novels, and still imagine what it would be like to see a wise group of giant, governing owls hanging out together and fist bumping in the dark of night with complete fascination.

What is one piece of advice that you wish someone had given you when you were younger?

Advice I wish someone had given me when I was younger would be to ‘do it scared’ as it applies to trying new things. It could be fly fishing, skiing, snow shoeing, rock climbing, hunting, or standing up on a paddleboard for the first time. – you’ll never fail your way to better if you don’t start! The world is yours, so long as you are brave enough to be new at something (and you have a shorter distance to fall when you are young, hah!).

Erin Kendall

Schools Program Coordinator

My name is Erin Kendall, and I'm the School Programs Coordinator with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

What is your favorite thing to do outside and why?

One thing I love to do is to walk with my dog to a lake near where I live, and watch the wildlife.

How did you become interested in working in the Natural Resource field?

I have always enjoyed spending time outside and getting other people excited about nature and science. When I learned there are careers that involve connecting students to the

outdoors, I was really excited!

What do you do at your job? What is your favorite thing about your job?

I get to work with schools and teachers around the state, as well as with partner organizations, volunteers, and other staff, all to help connect students and their families to the outdoors. Whether it is compiling data on a spreadsheet, planning a training for new staff, or teaching students in their classroom about a topic they are learning about in school, it all relates to our mission at Colorado Parks and Wildlife. My favorite part is to actually be with people, providing education programs.

What is a cool fact about nature that you know?

I think it is pretty cool that Colorado is a headwaters state, meaning rivers and streams here in Colorado originated in Colorado and all flow out of the state.

What is one piece of advice that you wish someone had given you when you were younger?

Don't be afraid to jump in and ask adults in this field for advice and how you can get involved in this type of career!

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