I was down in Sacramento this week for a DFW training seminar. There were a lot of people there, using a conference room at the Double Tree Hotel…a Hilton, so it was a lot nicer than anything I’m used to. I only knew a few of the people there, mainly some biologists and some wildlife area workers. I found myself making small talk with a pleasant guy from the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area.
Now, DFW is a huge organization, and our direct contact with people outside of our immediate sphere of work can be pretty limited. When you are in a big organization with a diverse array of jobs within your mission statement, it can be easy to feel some separation for others outside your own particular specialty. People who work on wildlife areas are just a different crowd from people who work on hatcheries. You wear the same uniform, and you know that you’re on the same team, but a lot of these other relationship are strictly on a professional level.
There was something vaguely familiar about this pleasant fella I was talking to. That happens sometimes. You run across other DFW people at trainings or conferences for one reason or other, and I am horrible at remembering names.
We started comparing our natural resources work experience, and it turned out that I was speaking with the one and only Ray Lyon! When I was a Corpsmember on the Yosemite 2 backcountry trail crew in 1987, Ray was the C1, or crew supervisor, of the Inyo backcountry trail crew, working right across the Sierra Crest from us! As far as I can recall, I don’t think I’d seen him since debriefing in ’87. I was amazed that he thought I looked familiar. Of course, I remembered who he was. There were only five or six crews. I remembered all of the C1s. However, there were over 50 corpsmembers between all of those crews. I certainly remember who Ray was. He had lost his USFS sponsor early in the season, so he was totally on his own for technical trail building skills. He had left a newborn back home with his wife to come out and work that season. And he got it done. He was one helluva guy.
Even across all the years, and even though Ray had never been my C1, there was a bond there from the CCC, and Backcountry Trails, and the working same season. Ray had come to mind years later when my wife and I were starting our own family, and I had to make a decision to stay with the CCC and be away from home a lot while the kids were little, or go to DFG for a more stable situation. I wasn’t made of the same stuff Ray was and opted for stability.
Suddenly, there in that conference room surrounded by our DFW co-workers, I wasn’t talking to a distant member of the same fraternity anymore. I was talking to family.