Ed. Note: Our Badlands volunteer was nominated by Katie Johnston, Executive Director for Badlands Natural History Association. She wrote a charming letter to us about Paul Ogren, who works at the park’s front desk and in a variety of park programs. Katie’s words follow.
When you inquired about notable volunteers, an instant smile came across my face as I thought of Paul Ogren, a volunteer we have here at Badlands NP.
I grew up in the Badlands. My grandmother was in my current position here at the Association for 40 years previous to me. I came to work with her often, and grew up seeing the park rangers and seasonal employees that have been through this park for the past 30 years. I have gained so many friendships because of this park. One that hits near the top of my list is Paul.
As the non-profit partner to the park, we are responsible for helping with the volunteer program. When Paul arrives every spring, we say “We know our busy season is soon upon us when Paul arrives.” I can’t venture to guess how much time at the front desk or program time in the park Paul has put in the eight years he has been coming back, but it’s so much more than his volunteer time that Paul brings to our park. He brings us laughter, stories, knowledge, and the feeling of how much love someone can have for one place to keep returning to it year after year. In a park where every season has different employees, it’s nice to see some consistency.
Whether it be answering the common question, “What is that black and white bird outside with the long tail?” or “Where can we find the bison?” Paul is prepared to help in any way that he can, and the best part is, he is happy to do it.
I know that there will come a day where Paul won’t be back for the summer, and a great number of us will be very sad. However, he doesn’t see that happening anytime soon. He is planning to return this spring, and for that, the Badlands can be grateful.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on such a valuable person to Badlands National Park. He doesn’t volunteer for the fame, and sure as heck not for the money. It is for the love of a location and the people he works with. I believe that volunteers across the park service deserve more credit than they get. ..but you won’t hear that from them either!
Badlands Natural History Assoc.
Photo of Paul Ogren courtesy Badlands National Park (NPS Photo)
Additional photos by #pendle10park explorer Emmanuel Beltran