Park Technician, Three Creeks Metro Park
I’m from Bexley, on the east side of Columbus. We lived close to Alum Creek.
What I do at Metro Parks
I had worked in the restaurant and hospitality trades for more than a decade when I felt a need for a change in career path. I have always loved working with tools and tinkering with car repairs. The skills I have came in handy when I applied for and got a position of part-time technician at Three Creeks in May 2018. I left for a full-time technician post at Blacklick Woods in August 2020. But Three Creeks feels like my home park and I was glad to come back here as a full-time maintenance technician in June 2022. I used to ride my bike from home to here when I was younger and remember the Greenway Trails being built. Here at Three Creeks we do a lot of trail maintenance, especially on the Alum Creek and Blacklick Creek Greenway Trails. As well as clearing the trail of hazards such as fallen trees, and working on the trail surface, we clear sight lines by mowing borders and pruning overhanging branches. We get a lot of appreciative comments from visitors for the work we do.
What I love most about my job
Two days every week we mow grass or clear brush. I like riding the brush hog as we mow the edges of the Greenway Trails. There’s a rhythm to it and I find myself able to use the time on the mower to think about the rest of my work day or work week, or just reflect on the beauty of the park and the wildlife I see so frequently. I also enjoy woodworking. I get to use circular saws and routers on projects like building memorial benches or bird houses. We have a great team of technicians here and I’ve learned a lot from them about safety when using power tools.
My favorite Metro Parks activity
I love fishing, especially catch and release fishing for rainbow trout at Clear Creek and fishing for smallmouth bass here at Three Creeks. The confluence of the three creeks is a great spot. Clear Creek is also an inspiring place to hike.
My favorite Metro Parks story that includes a positive visitor interaction
When I worked at Blacklick Woods, I would often see a group of friends who walked in the park every day, Monday to Friday. They were fairly elderly, and always showed appreciation for the work we technicians did on the trails. One of them, in particular, was very friendly and always gave a nod and hello when I would see him on the trails. I learned that he was a famous former Ohio State Buckeye and Cleveland Browns running back, Robert Bo Scott. When Mr. Scott passed away last year, his friends approached me and asked how they could go about arranging for a memorial bench for him. I was happy to help, and in fact was able to work on building the memorial bench. Sharing a moment with his friends brought home to me how much the Metro Parks can mean to people and what a privilege it is to work here.
Something to share about creating a positive experience for our visitors
I come across visitors so often in the park, and I like to make it a priority to greet everyone I can. It’s not always clear whether someone is having a good day or a bad day, and while I would never pry into their affairs, I find it can be uplifting for people if you show concern for them, for example by asking if they’re all right. I also like to pass along tips to people, especially people who are fishing. If they aren’t doing too well with their catch, I like to suggest what might be a better spot to cast their lines.
If I could go anywhere in the world and time and money were not a concern…
I’d want to go back to the Costa Rican jungle and stay there a long time. I went there for two weeks in 2017 and when I left, I remember thinking, ‘I wish I could have stayed there forever.’ It’s incredibly big, a beautiful rainforest with loads of exotic wildlife and plants. I’d also like to go out west, to Wyoming and Idaho for an archery hunt and fishing trip. But it’s more than about bagging an elk. I know I’d be humbled by how big and amazing that landscape is.
Life news to share
I’m moving house in a couple of weeks, to start a new phase of our live together for me and my long-time girlfriend, Hannah. It’s a house where Hannah grew up, on eight acres of spectacular land, with wetlands, woods and prairies.
Fun facts about me and my family
1. My grandfather, Dr John Kirker, was the Dean of Capital University. Both my parents were teachers too. My dad, Tom Kirker, has worked various part-time jobs with Metro Parks, ever since the 1980s, even when he was still a teacher at Berwick Elementary School. Currently he is working as a part-time Ranger at Slate Run Metro Park.
2. I have two siblings, an older brother and a younger sister, and we all received our hunter certification at just eight years old. My sister isn’t really into hunting any more, but my dad, my brother and I often hunt together.
3. Covid interrupted it for a couple of years, but my family has restarted our long tradition of taking a 2-week summer beach vacation together. For many years we would go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but more recently we have started vacationing in southwest Florida, at places like Sarasota and Fort Myers. Spending quality time with my siblings and parents is great, and so is the fishing.
My favorite food and dessert
Surf and turf is the meal for me! That would be a prime beef juicy steak with either lobster or crab legs. Crispy asparagus with a hollandaise sauce goes well with it. My time working as a restauranteur helped to shape my taste for side dishes like that. As a hunter and fisherman, I also have a taste for venison and walleye. For dessert, I really enjoy a creme brulee.
My favorite entertainment
When I was 14 or 15, my dad encouraged me to read The Frontiersmen, a book by Allan Eckert about the battles for Ohio and West Virginia fought between the Shawnee and the westward spreading colonists. It was a terrific book and it boosted my love for both history and for the land. Another great read is the Chronicles of Narnia, but I’m just as happy reading my monthly editions of hunting literature, such as Outdoor Life and Field and Stream. I watch a lot of do-it-yourself videos on YouTube, especially about auto repair. It’s helped me keep my Buick race car in good order. Me and my family like to go drag racing.
If I had just 60 seconds to share why I love working at Metro Parks, I’d say…
Working at Metro Parks is more than just a job. Every day, there’s a different and often inspiring interaction with park visitors and with nature.
Casey Kirker was talking to Communications Coordinator, Virginia Gordon