As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are collecting and sharing the stories of people connected to the islands, whether they are park guests, former residents or former park employees.
This is the third in our series called “Lakeshore Logbook,” a collection of memories provided by former National Park Service employees.
Living and working in the park on a day to day basis, they’ve experienced a lot to be sure. We hope you enjoy their perspectives.
Zach Rozmiarek interned at the park in the summer of 2008. He worked as an Interpretive Ranger from 2009 to 2017.
What position(s) did you hold?
I was the Transportation Interpretive Intern, I worked as the Interpretive Ranger at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, Raspberry Island, Stockton Island, Meyers Beach, and Little Sand Bay. I also worked one winter at park headquarters.
What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job?
The coolest thing I’ve ever done as part of my job was staying in a lighthouse. Everytime I see pictures of Raspberry Island, I point out which room was mine. One night a big storm rolled in and I forgot to shut the windows on the museum side of the house. I remember walking through this historic house to shut the windows, with only the lightning to light my way.
What is the most fun experience you had in the park?
The most fun experience was definitely Neil Howk’s training boat trips. He has so much knowledge of everything in the park. We would go to places most people wouldn’t be able to get to, and Neil would tell us all about them. It was also one of the first times I would meet the rest of the interpretive staff. I have some great friends that I got to know for the first time on those boat trips.
Please share a memorable experience you had in the park.
I started my own tradition when I worked on Stockton Island. On my last day of the season, I would wake up early to watch the sunrise. I would hike out to Julian Bay with my coffee and enjoy my last morning on the island. Some seasons I would go alone, and some seasons other employees would come with me. I always thought it was important to get as much out of my last day on the island as I could.
What is the most amazing thing you saw in the park?
There are so many amazing things that I saw, it is hard to pick just one. Seeing wildlife out on Stockton island was spectacular. Once I was on the Tombolo Trail and a heron crossed right in front of me. Watching the storms out on the islands was also very amazing. I loved standing on a dock and being able to watch a storm roll through off in the distance. I also loved seeing all of the islands and rock formations.
Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride.
I am really proud of my campfire programs, in particular my pine marten program. This program inspired visitors to keep a lookout for the pine martens, which resulted in additional reported sightings. My program was also mentioned in an article for Lake Superior Magazine, in which I am referred to as a “wildlife expert.”
What story from your time at APIS do you share most frequently?
There is a story I used in my bear programs, that I tell my students every year. Back before there was a toilet in the ranger cabin on Stockton Island, we had an outhouse to use. It was the end of my first season on Stockton and I desperately wanted to see a bear. Well, one night at about 10pm, I went out to use the outhouse. I had my very dim headlamp and as I turned my head to the left, I saw two glowing eyes looking back at me. All season I have taught visitors to not be afraid of bears, just make a lot of noise and they’ll go away. So, being an educated ranger, I scream like a little girl, run inside and slam the door. This actually helped, as it scared the bear away. So I knew there was a bear out there somewhere, and I still need to use the outhouse. So I slowly stepped out of the cabin, and ran as fast as I could to the outhouse. That was the last time I had to use the bathroom that night.
What, if any, ’something’ from your time at APIS was an impetus for your chosen career or life path?
Working as an interpretive ranger showed me that I wanted to go into education. I discovered my love of teaching others from working at the Apostle Islands.
If you could return to just one place in APIS, where would you go? Why?
I have spent so much time at many different places, it’s hard to pick just one. If I had to pick, I think I would go back to the ranger cabin on Stockton Island. I have fond memories of relaxing in the cabin at night, reading a book or working on a puzzle. With no TV, and very little cellphone signal, it allowed everything to move at a slower pace, which is something I really miss.
Zach now teaches 5th grade students in the Menomonie, Wisconsin school district. We would like to thank him for adding his great stories to the Lakeshore Logbook. We look forward to sharing more Logbook entries with you in the coming weeks. You can find the whole series here.