Portland District People: Amber Tilton, Park Ranger, The Dalles Lock and Dam

Amber Tilton, Park Ranger, The Dalles Lock and Dam (Corps of Engineers photo)

Amber Tilton, Park Ranger, The Dalles Lock and Dam (Corps of Engineers photo)

Describe your job:
Here’s an example of a common interaction I have with the public:

Visitor:              “Oh, so you work for the National Park Service?”
Park Ranger:   “No, actually I work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”
Visitor:              “Thank you for your service.”
Park Ranger:   “Actually I’m not in the army. You see…”

Park rangers are typically the first (and sometimes only) contact the public has with the Corps.  We give the agency a face and along with that, a context; relating not just who we are but why we are, is my daily job.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?
For me, the most rewarding part of my job is making a connection with people.  It’s great to see the light bulb go off in someone’s brain (no pun intended) when they realize that the Corps is more than just a concrete structure in the middle of the river.

What challenges do you encounter when doing your job?
Because our agency has so many missions, it can be a challenge to connect the dots for people. We want them to see the bigger picture of the Corps and how it plays a role in their everyday lives.

How does your job fit into our District mission? What’s an example of this?
For those of us in the recreation business line, that means showing our visitors that Corps parks are ‘where you go to play’ and are practically right in your back yard.  The proximity of our parks to major metropolitan areas makes the Corps a hidden giant among federal and state agencies — with more than 360 million visitors a year.

What inspires you as you do your job?
What inspires me most about putting a uniform on every day (and, yes, it’s almost exactly the same as the National Park Service), is that I earn my paycheck sharing the thing I love.

What is your favorite quote? Why?
Henry David Thoreau said it best; “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”  A park ranger’s job is to make sure there are places to go and fish to catch. We care for and protect the resources we are entrusted with. For Corps park rangers, that means we manage everything off the concrete.