Jim Gale is a native Coloradan. After attending Colorado State University, Gale received his Master’s Degree in botany from the University of Georgia. His first work experience in a national park was a volunteer position at Yellowstone National Park after high school on road crew. On nights and weekends, he volunteered collecting, pressing and identifying plants for the park’s herbarium.
Since I was six months old, I’ve been drawn to nature. My childhood was spent camping and backpacking with my family. I was a camp counselor and a boy scout. I love mountaineering. I love rock climbing.
After graduate school, I decided I wanted to be a park ranger instead of a professor. I couldn’t imagine a life not spent in national parks surrounded by nature.
Gale has spent the last 35 years working in parks all over the country and world. From the Grand Tetons in Wyoming and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore near Chicago, to Mount St. Helens and the Grand Canyon and Hawaii Volcanoes, Gale has designed curriculums for students, bushwhacked trails, designed visitors’ centers and explored wilderness.
I began work at Mount St. Helens just a few years after it erupted. It had recently become a national monument and we got to create the whole visitor experience. One of the highlights of my entire career happened when a child I had taught at a workshop years before came to a teachers’ workshop to learn a curriculum for her own students. Mount St. Helens taught me an amazing amount about the resiliency of life, the resiliency of the earth, and how we all need to be good stewards. Mount St. Helens is a prime example of how we’ve learned about how nature can spring back.
Gale joined Park Rangers for Our Lands because of his concern about the impact exploration and drilling can have on some of our most important wilderness and natural areas.
I have been privileged to experience pristine places my whole life. I’ve heard about people with water contamination from fracking and people becoming sick. I want a part of my legacy to be a part of the growing awareness about the dangers of this activity so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy our lands.
With young people increasingly drawn to cities and the growing interconnectedness of modern life, Gale wants to help ensure that our national parks remain quiet places out of the hustle and bustle.
Urban places provide incredible opportunities. But there are also lots of distractions. More than ever, we need to do everything we can to make sure we create opportunities for people to connect with nature.