Why did you become a ranger?
It was by pure luck that I found this job, I was at my college’s Career Center and I saw an ad for a Maintenance Worker so I applied. I got a call back saying that the job was filled but they had open positions for park rangers, so I accepted.
What’s one of the most-interesting things you can remember happening at your workplace since becoming a ranger?
The most eerie thing I can remember about the job occurred when I deployed as a Quality Assurance Supervisor in New York City for Hurricane Sandy relief. After finishing a 30-day deployment, I renewed my deployment for another month and I took a couple days off to go tour the city. My first stop was Ground Zero, I will never forget the feeling of sadness and pain when I walked through those doors. Even though the entire place was clean and had a unique memorial it still had that feeling of being distraught. Being there helped me remember why I was there and that what I do is for my family and country.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My Favorite part about the job is the variety of experiences. I could be teaching kids about water safety one day, planting trees the next day or deployed halfway across the globe supporting the Corps mission. It makes the job interesting every day and I am not tied down to a desk or forced to be outside in the adverse weather all the time.
If you could tell every single person who comes to your park just one, what would you say?
If I could tell anybody one thing I would tell them to make their life the best story ever told. If someday you pass on and somebody was to tell your life story, make it the greatest story there is. Artists were never remembered for having a blank canvas, make your life the greatest painting ever.
Have you worked on, or are working on any special goals?
I’m hoping someday to have the time and effort to fully rebuild a car or truck. Although I am not much of a mechanic now and I am busy trying to raise my family I haven’t gotten very far. But I hope to someday. Nothing too fancy, I might start off easy like a Volkswagen Beetle and then work my way up to a muscle car.
What hobbies are you most passionate about?
Right now my hobbies include raising my four whirlwind children, but the thing that gives me the most joy is cooking. I enjoy trying new things and experimenting at home. My kids are my test subjects, and so far I have not had too many complaints. I like making meals ranging from the traditional ones that I grew up eating to more exotic stuff.
Besides becoming a ranger, what would you say are your greatest accomplishments – so far?
One of my greatest accomplishments was becoming the first in my family to graduate from college and earn a degree. My parents stressed the importance of school and was able to make them proud. My second greatest accomplishment was to marry the love of my life, I owe much of what I have become in my work to my wonderful wife. Her and my kids have followed me everywhere; even when it was tough (and it really has been) they stuck with me and we made it together. My story is filled with excitement and my canvas is never blank.
Anything else you would like to add/say about being a ranger?
Every time I interact with a visitor who has come to the park to recreate, they always tell me, “You have the best job in the world.” I humbly answer back, “Yes, yes I do.
Nick Figueroa is a 33-year-old Corps of Engineers Sacramento District ranger for Hensley Lake and Hidden Dam. He has worked for the Corps for 13 years and this is the 5th park he has worked at. Figueroa has previously worked at Lake Kaweah, Eastman Lake, Pine Flat Lake, and New Hogan Lake and also participated with the relief efforts during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.