Dave Wyrick grew up crawling around caves in his hometown of Carlsbad, N.M., so it was not a surprise that after only a couple of days on the job at Mammoth Cave National Park as the new chief of interpretation, he went on the Historic Tour of the cave.
Caving, Wyrick said, is “just in my blood.”
“It’s a very interesting subject to me,” he said, adding that he enjoys helping people understand how caves are formed and the relationship that exists between the surface and the underground.
The Historic Tour was the first time he had been inside Mammoth Cave. He liked the mix of history, geography and geology that the tour offered, which he said was not always evident on tours at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Before coming to Mammoth Cave, Wyrick worked at Carlsbad Caverns and in Montana. His most recent assignment was at Natchez Historical Park in Natchez, Miss.
As the new chief of interpretation at Mammoth Cave, Wyrick will be in charge of a staff of about 100 people, although the number varies depending on the season.
“I oversee the interpretive park rangers, the guides, the fee collections, visitor services, exhibits, brochures and the development of the brochures – anything that has to do with visitor services and disseminating information to the visitors,” he said.
In the short time he has been at Mammoth Cave, Wyrick said the staff has appeared to be very competent and they all seem to work well together.
“I’m excited to work with the staff. So far, I’ve just really been impressed with the staff,” he said.
Wyrick isn’t looking to make changes right away. He wants to take time to learn what Mammoth Cave has to offer and to examine the budget to see where the national park stands financially.
“It will take a while to really understand the operation. At this point, I’m in the learning stage,” he said. “If there is anything that we can do to improve, I would certainly be open to that. I’m sure the staff has a lot of ideas.”
Sarah Craighead, superintendent of Mammoth Cave, said in a press release that Wyrick has a broad background and will be a great addition to the national park’s management team.
“Our interpretive staff is one of the largest in the National Park Service, and we offer more formal programs each year than the Great Smokes, Everglades and Shenandoah National Parks combined,” she said in the release. “At his previous parks, Dave has found ways to engage the public that could be applied at Mammoth Cave. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
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