In March, I celebrated my one-year anniversary as a Virginia park ranger. I remember accepting the position while on a trip in Colombia with my friend Dian. She had invited me to join her on a whim and I enthusiastically had said yes. At that time, I wasn't pregnant yet, but I knew that when I was, I wouldn't be afforded that kind of spontaneity.
I was a newlywed bracing myself for a new life, an unwritten chapter. Amidst the uncertainties, one thing was clear to me: I needed to redefine what “work” meant to me. I had already made the leap from freelancing and having a full-time job to founding my own venture/design studio, Unofficial by Design. Working at the park was my way of taking a big breath of fresh air after years being underwater.
Sky Meadows is a state park that features a beautiful pastoral landscape and a historic farm area. The park crew keeps hills and fields mowed and herds of cow mamas mill about the pastures with their calves. The 1,862-acre park has 22 miles of trails that are carefully maintained to welcome hikers, bikers, and horse riders. As a shift supervisor, I provide support to contact rangers who welcome patrons at the entrance and visitor center. I make rounds throughout the day to make sure everything goes smoothly.
I worked pretty much throughout my entire pregnancy. I witnessed all the seasons reshape the landscape as my belly expanded until I couldn’t fit my uniform anymore. I love working with park people - people who are more in tune with nature and have an appreciation for the outdoors. The natural cycles of the park make for a saner pace than the ever urgent world of marketing and design.
With my new role as a mom, I’m unsure how much longer I will be able to keep balancing unofficial and working at Sky Meadows, but for now I very much enjoy being a park mama.