Andrew Thatcher '14
"Unity prepared me to think differently about this career, it opened my eyes to the many different paths that were available within the national park service."
Graduation Year: May 2014
What was your Major? Parks, Recreation and Ecotourism
What City/ State are you from? Cheshire, Connecticut
What City/ State to you currently live in? I currently live Page, AZ
The location I am at most is a remote station on Lake Powell called Dangling Rope Marina.
Current Career Title: My current career title is Utility System Repair / Operator
Business/ Organization you work for: National Park Service
What was your favorite thing about your time at Unity College? Did you have a favorite tradition?
My favorite thing about Unity was that I was always able to be outdoors, and that I did not have to give up things like hunting. As far as traditions, my friends and I always had and end-of-semester shoot or hike or trip. A recreational activity that we could all enjoy.
What advice would you give to current Unity College students? I think the biggest piece of advice I can give is that a degree opened a door for me and will make it possible for me to make it to the top of the agency without the limiting factor being my education level. This can be a handicap for people looking to work in the higher levels of the park service especially.
Did you utilize career services for you internship or career search? If so, in what ways? I had a job that was working for my hometown park and recreation department and was allowed to turn that into my internship. I developed that relationship at that job over the span of two previous summers before needing to do my internship, and at that point it was easy to sell the supervisors there in the arrangement.
Where did you complete your internship(s) and what types of experiences did you have? I worked for Cheshire Connecticut’s park and rec department. During the internship, I was exposed to a wide variety of aspects to make that particular department work. I spent the majority of my time in the maintenance division. Working on backflow preventers, equipment operations and repairs and the paperwork involved with the tracking of work performed on the equipment.
My bosses made sure that while things were slow I did get exposed to the office work as well, which consisted of scheduling and helping the public arrange their events and communicate with the department about things that the local parks would need for certain events that would be held there.
Is your current job in your field of study, or did you end up going a different direction than you thought? My current job is in the branch that I wanted to be in while I was in college. Currently, I am one of four people that are responsible for the treatment and state compliance of drinking water at Dangling Rope Marina. I never thought that I would be a person responsible for the cleanliness of water, however being flexible in that respect has gotten me into a permanent position with the federal government while others who were not as flexible are still working to get into a permanent position.
Tell us a little about your current job and what it entails: My current position is as a backcountry water operator. This means that I am one of the people responsible for the production of potable water; and hold a water treatment and water distribution license. This includes daily testing for chlorine residuals used in the treatment process and the monthly and yearly samples required by the state of Utah and Arizona which include heavy metals, arsenic and nitrates. Because of the location, I am also one of the three people required to hold a wastewater collection license and help maintain lift and force mains used for pump-outs made available on the marina to prevent dumping.
Besides the water operations work, we run boats daily as this location is purely utilized by boat traffic; there are no roads in or out of this station so we have to generate all the electrical requirements for the station. This includes the operation of a 50-foot barge utilized to transport propane and diesel to the station for the operation of a 250 kilowatt hybrid power generation system. In addition to the fuel transport we also need to maintain and operate 792 batteries, and 190 kilowatts of solar panels.
We also help with medical evacuations, rescue operations… just a wide range of other operations.
Are you happy in your current career? Love this career, it allows me to maintain a lot of different skills.
Did you feel Unity College prepared you for your career? Unity prepared me to think differently about this career, it opened my eyes to the many different paths that were available within the national park service. It also prepared me for the administrative side of the career which will ultimately be my end goal within the park service.
If you haven’t already, are you considering graduate school down the road? I am not. At this point for me time-in-service, and on-the-job work is the best way to move upward into an administrative position.