The Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area recently welcomed a new member of the staff at the Cal S. Taggart Visitor Center near Lovell.
Park Ranger Shawn Williams started work on June 25 as an interpreter and has already been greeting visitors and presenting campfire programs at Horseshoe Bend.
A native of Kentucky, Williams said he lived “all over” Kentucky, then graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in telecommunications, after which he drove through the West.
“I always thought I wouldn’t mind working at a western park,” he said.
Williams worked as a clerk for the FBI near Washington, D.C., worked on his teaching certificate, then joined the Air Force, serving four years of active duty and 2½ years in the reserves, earning a master’s degree in history from the University of Southern Mississippi during that time.
He taught sixth-grade social studies in Kentucky, then joined the National Park Service 7½ years ago, starting as a visitor use assistant collecting money at the gate of Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi.
Williams continued his NPS career at Tuskeegee Airmen National Historic Site in Alabama, working as a park guide in his first foray into interpretation, and he then moved on to Russell Cave National Monument near Bridgeport, Ala., which he said has the most extensive archaeological record of prehistoric life in the Southeast.
He returned to Vicksburg as a park guide and worked two years before moving to Wyoming for his first park ranger post in June.
Now that he’s here, Williams plans to work with fellow interpreter Valerie Newman to rebuild the interpretive program at Bighorn Canyon while putting “my own personal spin on it,” he said. He will give atlatl demonstrations at Horseshoe Bend campfire programs each of the next three Saturdays and also talk about the Bad Pass Trail.
Next year he hopes to give black powder rifle demonstrations to interpret the fur trade, but he must go to “black powder school” to do so. He said he fired Civil War muskets at Vicksburg.
By David Peck