Jon Jarvis ~ an interview with the 18th Director of the National Park Service

Jon Jarvis ~ an interview with the 18th Director of the National Park Service

Hey everybody! It’s January first, 2019. Happy New Year! If you’re anything like me you’re excited to make this year better than the last and if you’re listener to this podcast that means getting into the outdoors. But at the moment of this posting, the United States of America is in the second week of a partial government shutdown that’s expected to last for at least a few weeks longer. In addition to the federal employees who will go throughout this period without a paycheck every national park and all of our national monuments will be closed.

The reality of a nation without parks got me thinking about an interview I conducted more than a year ago. Jon Jarvis is the former director of the National Park Service. Appointed by president Barack Obama back in 2008, Jarvis served in that position through 2016. And now as a private citizen I asked him to tell me a little bit about his career and how he got started.

Jarvis began as most of us do with a profound love of the outdoors. He went to the College of William and Mary where he earned a degree in biology. After graduation he took a long cross-country road trip and wound up in Washington D.C. where his older brother worked for the National Parks Conservation Association. There Jarvis worked a bunch of manual labor jobs as a mechanic and welder for a local bus company, but he was still looking for a steady gig, maybe in the outdoors.

“And my brother said, “Did you ever think about working for the Park Service?” And I said no,” Jarvis said in our interview. “I was also thinking about going back to grad school at the time and was applying for grad school, but I needed a year off. So I applied for a seasonal job with the park service and got hired at the Bicentennial Information Center in 1976 the nation’s bicentennial. And that was 40 years ago. I’ve worked for them ever since.”

Throughout his career of more than 40 years Jon Jarvis had worked both as a law enforcement officer and a natural resources biologist. He was the superintendents of Mount Rainier National Park in Ashford, Washington, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve in Alaska. Jarvis finished his tour of duty as the 18th Director of the National Park Service during the Obama administration under Secretaries of the Interior Ken Salazar and Sally Jewell. Now as the executive director of the Institute for Parks, People, and Biodiversity at the University of California at Berkeley he has big plans to lead the conservation movement well into the future.

Jon Jarvis is the author of the book The Future of Conservation in America: A Chart for Rough Water You can learn more about his work at the Institute For Parks, People and Biodiversity at

Music in this episode is provided by Jake Shimabukuro and Artlist 

The Joy Trip Project has made possible thanks to the support of the Next 100 Coalition, a diverse group of environmental leaders dedicated to the preservation of public land and our natural resources through the next century and beyond. Learn more about its members and current projects at

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