New Wapsipinicon State Park Ranger Jason Dykstra has been working in conservation as long as he can remember.
“I grew up in an outdoor family, hunting, fishing, hiking all the time. So, we kind of grew up outside,” he said. “I love it, getting to be outside every day.”
Dykstra has been working in parks since he was in high school. Prior to coming to Anamosa, he was a resource technician at the Volga River State Recreation Area in Fayette County before becoming the park ranger in Stone State Park in Sioux City for about a year and a half.
Dykstra was happy to be closer to where he grew up in North Liberty with his young son. Having previously lived in Manchester, he used to come down to fish in the river. During his travels in northeast Iowa, Dykstra said he fell in love with the bluffs and streams that were common in the area.
“This is the kind of terrain I’m used to,” he said
Though he started at his post late in December, with the holidays, he’s only started to get to know the park and the people over the last couple of weeks. The first day hike was a great opportunity for him to meet a lot of new people and get an “oral history” of the that went beyond the research he had done in scouting the route.
“Hearing the locals talk about, ‘Oh, there used to be a pool right there,’ I would have never known,” he said. “It was really cool talking to people that have come out here their whole lives and can basically teach me about the area.”
He’s made a point of chatting with people anytime he comes across them in the park. According to Dykstra, it will take him the year to really get to know the park, but he’s excited to see where things will take him and is looking forward to seeing where he can improve things.
As he continues to get familiar with the park and community, Dykstra said he hopes to have a community meeting before the end of the year.
“It’s something I try to do every year at my parks. Just bring the community out to tell them what we do and get input on what the public sees or what they might like to see,” he said.