CLATSOP COUNTY - David Szymanski, the new superintendent at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, said he's excited about the educational opportunities at his new job.
He said the Lewis and Clark and Fort Vancouver National Historic Sites are the two largest providers of educational opportunities for the National Park Service in the Northwest. Between the two, they expect to serve about 20,000 students next year.
The National Park Service has selected the Students to Stewards program at Lewis and Clark - adopting the class of 2016 - as a project to commemorate its 100th anniversary in 2016.
Szymanski said Lewis and Clark operators plan to offer ranger-guided tours - on foot or by kayak - from Netul Landing near Astoria.
He said there will be offerings on the water this coming summer. In particular, he said he'd like to see some tours taken from Dismal Nitch, in Washington just east of the Astoria Bridge. Station Camp near the Chinook Tunnel and Cape Disappointment also are Washington components of the new national park.
Szymanski's Midwestern sensibilities made him go into chemical engineering when he entered the University of Michigan after high school. He changed his major to English. And he began to travel, and as he traveled, sights like Multnomah Falls deeply affected him.
"In the spring of 1990, I was looking up at Multnomah Falls and had my eyes tear up," he said.
He decided he wanted to become a part of the National Park Service. He received a master's degree in Environmental Management from Duke University.
After graduating,he went to Madagascar to work in the Park Service as part of a Peace Corps program.
Szymanski then worked for Fish and Wildlife in Portland, acted as a biologist in Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota, was the Florida Bay program manager in the Keys at Everglades National Park and received the Bevinetto Fellowship and worked for the Senate Park Subcommittee in Washington, D.C.
Szymanski and his wife, Elaine Sproul, have two small children. He said though Sproul comes from a military family and is used to moving, they'd like to stay here for a while.