Servant Ambassadors

Education and Outreach staff on a hike.

A seasonal Education and Outreach staff member with Boulder County Parks & Open Space (BCPOS) is a multifaceted presence, seamlessly blending roles of educator, interpretive guide, steward of the natural world, hospitable host, naturalist, group facilitator, a touch of historian, and knowledgeable tour guide. While it can be viewed as a job — a fillable position that can be transformed into a career, or a way to meet various goals, at its essence, it transcends mere occupation — it’s a calling. This vocation beckons individuals with diverse talents and interests, demanding a fervent passion.

People often express admiration for our role as we patrol the breathtaking open spaces and parks of Boulder County by saying things like, “What an amazing job you have!”, “Just look at the office where you work.” Or “You’re so lucky.” And they could not be more right.

Education and Outreach staff on a hike.
Education and Outreach staff on a hike. Left to right, Michelle Marotti, Andrea Van Sambeek, Tatum Figone, Tal Elmaliach, Amanda Hatfield and Carlos Lerma.

After all, how many jobs include encountering people in a state-of-bliss induced by various levels of phytoncides from evergreen trees, such as cedars, spruces, conifers, and pine, as well as oak trees? Phytoncides, airborne chemical compounds that plants produce to fend off bacteria, fungi, and insects, have remarkable effects. Absorbed through the olfactory glands, they bolster our immune system for days and reduce adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) which can alleviate anxiety and enhance immune function.

In fact, there are so many benefits to walking amongst trees. Trees are pivotal in fortifying the amygdala, a brain structure crucial for stress management. Their presence not only decreases stress levels but also alleviates rumination, mental fatigue, and confusion, contributing to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety. Beyond these physiological benefits, trees play a crucial role in the well-being of children with ADHD, as exposure to nature has been shown to diminish symptoms associated with the condition. Movement not only boosts our oxygen intake but also enhances the efficiency of our lungs and heart in delivering oxygen to our bodies, regulating blood sugar, reducing blood pressure, and maintaining the optimal functioning of our arteries.

The sheer joy and contentment derived from such gifts are bound to make anyone smile. Smiles are contagious and hold the power to uplift spirits, radiate positivity, and create a ripple effect of joy.

The core of our responsibility is to serve as a bridge — present and supportive, yet un-intrusive — between BCPOS’ mission and the public, meeting everyone precisely where they are in their unique journey and relationship with the more-than-human world. This is achieved through deep listening and a sincere interest in each person as an integral part of the interconnected whole. Thus, staff members seamlessly navigate between staying rooted in their responsibilities and talents while attentively tracking the unique needs of individuals or groups. Through this delicate oscillation, a profound connection is forged, aiming to craft a positive and lasting memory for each individual — a potent balm for all hearts.