Naturalist, Glacier Ridge and Homestead Metro Parks
What I do at Metro Parks
I am the full-time naturalist for Glacier Ridge and Homestead Metro Parks. I became part-time naturalist here in February 2020, and was promoted to the full-time position in May 2021. My introduction to working at Metro Parks was as a camp counselor. In summer 2019, while I was still studying at OSU, I became a field attendant for the Customer Service Department. I graduated in December 2019 with a degree in natural resources management.
What I love about my work at Metro Parks
I love being able to make my work what I want it to be, in terms of what programs I can decide to plan and offer. I also love the impromptu and “roving” programs, encountering guests in the park and encouraging them to join me for a birding program, or tree and leaves identification program. My days usuallt start with me interacting with our “park critters” and feeding them. One of my favorite critters is Sneaky Sneakerson, our middle-aged gray rat snake. She’s named ‘Sneaky’ because she used to be in the habit of sneaking away when anyone wasn’t looking!
My favorite Metro Parks activity
I love hiking, especially long hikes, where I can walk slowly and take in the wonderful surroundings and abundant signs of nature. My favorite trails are the Red Oak Trail at Glacier Ridge, and the Olentangy Greenway Trail. Quite often, I’ll take my binoculars with me on a hike, as I’m a keen birder. I also like to forage for mushrooms. Glacier Ridge is a great park for that.
My favorite Metro Parks story that includes a positive guest interaction
A mom and her two super sweet young kids come often to my programs and I’ve formed a great relationship with Damien, aged seven. Damien and Emma, his pre-school sister, love my weekly “Art in the Park” programs. One of Damien’s paintings of trees hangs on the wall at our Barn and Nature Center. At our most recent program, Damien created a artistic note, with the message, “Thank you, Sarah. I love Nature.”
Something to share about guest service and creating a positive experience
Naturalists, especially, are the face of Metro Parks, and I love to offer “Service with a Smile” to our guests. This advice was given to me by my mentor and predecessor as park naturalist, Sarah Hunter, and it makes a big difference. It makes communucation with our guests so easy and friendly.
If I could go anywhere in the world and time and money were not a concern…
I’ve always wanted to go to South Africa, because of its history and its wildlife. There are sharks there, and I’d love to go cage diving with great white sharks. That’s on my bucket list of things to do, even though it will probably terrify me!
Life news to share
I love my work for many reasons, but the most meaningful reason is that all my work outdoors makes me feel closer to my brother, Michael. He loved the outdoors, and loved fishing above all his other outdoor activities. Six years ago, Michael passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. Being out in nature makes me feel close to him. I feel that the work I do honors Michael’s memory and I believe it makes him proud. Whenever I see people fishing at the Homestead Pond, I get a special jolt and feel that Michael is there with me.
Fun facts about me and my family
1. My favorite person in the world is my 2-year-old niece, Aria. She’s so bubbly and cheerful. Sometimes, she comes up from Cincinnati with my sister and visits me at work. She loves the park critters!
2. I have two cats, Theo, a part maine coon, and my much smaller female cat, Azula. I named her after the character “Azula” in the TV series, Avatar. In the series, Azula is a bully, especially to her brother, and my Azula lives up to the character’s name. She often bullies poor Theo, even though he’s three-times bigger than she is.
3. I love to draw and paint. My favorite medium is watercolor. I like to paint people, but also nature scenes, both from photos and from my imagination.
My favorite food and dessert
My mom’s cooking is the absolute best! Her home made Mac and Cheese and home made ribs are wonderful. They always go down well with the entire family when we get together for dinner. Her deserts are brilliant too. I can’t think of anything more delicious that her apple pican cheesecake.
If I had just 60 seconds to share why I love working at Metro Parks, I’d say…
The people I work with here, they’re awesome. I’ve made such good friends with fellow team members, especially some of my seasonal naturalists from this past year. Metro Parks is awesome too. Its values align perfectly with my own. And, of course, I get to work outdoors such a lot!