This episode of the Park Leaders Show felt like I was talking to history. Betty Soskin is the oldest park ranger in the United States. Betty is 93 years old.
Yes, that is impressive. But even more impressive is Betty did not become a park ranger until she was 85 years old. Talking with Betty, I got the feeling she did not necessarily become a park ranger, she became part of the narrative of Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park, and that involved wearing a park ranger uniform.
“Whatever I do, they call rangering. But I would be doing it anyway because it is the only thing I know.”
Betty Soskin first collected national attention when she was furloughed during the government shutdown. When asked what the government should do to end the shutdown, Betty replied, “I am not wise enough to tell them what to do, except to get out of my way.”
The government shutdown was an obstacle to Betty’s telling her story and getting important work done. Betty tackles each day with a sense of urgency rarely seen in people decades younger than her.
Betty’s story is an American story that can be told by no one else I have ever met. Her message, her life, and her contribution to the National Park Service is a story you don’t want to miss. This episode goes much deeper than parks. We talk about history, wisdom, and diversity.