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Gateway Science Series, Part 3

By Casey Smith, Naturalist, and Park District Staff

I (Casey) took part in a webinar recently where Neil DeGrasse Tyson was the keynote speaker. Someone asked him what was his “gateway science”, meaning what was the science that got him into astrophysics. I thought that would be a great topic to ask Preservation Parks staff. Staff were asked the three questions below. I’ve shared their name, job title, and responses. I hope you enjoy getting to know some of our staff during this series.

What got you into this line of work, or your “gateway science”?

Looking back, is working for a park district what you saw your future self doing?

If working for a park district is not what you expected you would be doing, is there anything you find surprising about working for Preservation Parks?


Kevin Kuhn – Senior Park Officer
I started working in parks when I was 18, straight out of high school, on a maintenance crew at an ODNR state park near where I grew up. Looking back, I always knew I wanted to be a park ranger.  It was a long road, but I got there eventually.



Joshua Hough – Park Officer
My gateway into law enforcement was initially for promotion with my last employer. I did not expect to enjoy the police academy but ending up loving it and decided I would make a career of it. 

I have been working for a park district for the past 20 years, so it’s all I know. Having my law enforcement training does allow me to work for a PD or Sheriff department, but I like being in a park district jurisdiction. 

What has surprised me about working for Preservation Parks is the professionalism and respect from all the employees, from the top down. I believe I am trusted to make good decisions and encouraged to seek out additional training opportunities or provide input that will improve Preservation Parks for the future.

Chad Watkins – Park Officer
I actually got into this line of work (parks) just as a way to make some extra money while going through college. I have always loved the outdoors and parks in general, so when Franklin County Metro Parks posted part-time ranger positions, I jumped on it and was lucky to get a job. 

I knew I wanted to work in Law Enforcement I just didn’t think it would be in parks. After working part-time for Metro Parks, I knew I wanted to work LE in a park district because I enjoyed the setting of parks more than that of a city. 

I’ve been with Preservation Parks for a total of about five years. It’s very surprising to see and be a part of a park district that is growing and feel like your ideas and suggestions are taken into consideration. I also didn’t realize how close all the employees seem to be, especially those I work with in my department. 

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