Longtime State Park Employee Says Farewell After 36 Years
“What’s going on the different groups I worked with,” said John Fylpaa, retiring Lake Bemidji State Park Naturalist.
For John Fylpaa details of his 36-year career are chronicled in the calendars he keeps dating back to 1985. He can tell you about the weather and what else went on that day.
“I heard gulls, it rained in the afternoon,” said Fylpaa.
Now he’s calling it quits. Fylpaa’s career started in Southern Minnesota at Minneopa State Park. As a park naturalist, he’s responsible for working with visitors and getting them familiar with what the park has to offer.
“When I got up here and settled in there was so much that the community had to offer and got involved with community and the community was real supportive of the park that I just enjoyed it here,” said Fylpaa.
As Fylpaa cleaned out his office he was overcome with emotion.
“It is bittersweet. There’s a lot of memories that I see with things that I’m recycling and going through the papers,” said Fylpaa.
Reality is sinking in for Fylpaa as he’s trying to pack up 36 years of memories in boxes. There are a few moments that stick out to him the most, which was working with young kids.
“They were always energetic and any day outside learning is a wonderful way to spend the day and they enjoyed being here at the park,” said Fylpaa.
City Park Manager Peter Harrison worked with Fylpaa for seven years and says Fylpaa leaves a strong impact and inspired many to go into the natural field.
“Well he means a lot he has a lot of institutional knowledge, the amount of operational knowledge and just the historical knowledge of the park,” said Lake Bemidji State Park City Manager Peter Harrison. “We’re kind of losing that in a sense.”
As this chapter closes Fylpaa is looking forward to having summers off, going camping and visiting other state parks.