Will Butler visited several national parks while growing up but never made it to Fort Pickens.
But the historical military installation, one of the highlights of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, is where Butler now works as a ranger. He figures if he had traveled to Florida as a child he would have felt the same way he does today as an employee of a national park.
“I never got down here as a kid but I can imagine that me today running around here is a lot like what it would have been like as a kid running around here,” Butler said. “This is what is really cool about working in a national park. Every day is a big kid’s life.”
Butler’s lifelong passion for the outdoors is unmistakable as he sits down for an interview outside the visitor center at the fort on a hot and sunny morning in early June. It’s his fourth month on the job at the Gulf Islands National Seashore – he also spends time working at Naval Live Oaks and Fort Barrancas – and his eighth year overall of working as a ranger for the national park service.
“I bounce all over. It’s pretty typical for a ranger to never have the same kind of day,” Butler said. “For the most part, I’m working over at Fort Barrancas and Fort Pickens giving fort tours. I enjoy it. I love the interaction with the visitors.”
Several factors drew Butler into a career as a park ranger. His grandfather was an outdoorsman, establishing Butler’s early love for the outdoors, and he was a Boy Scout as well, earning the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout.
Read the full article in the June 16 issue of Navarre Press. Click HERE to subscribe to your community newspaper.