Sheridan Steele has seen and done a lot of things over his 38-year career with the National Park Service (NPS). From winter research trips to bear dens to hosting presidents and dignitaries, Steele had a truly remarkable run. He documents his unique experiences in his new memoir, From Bear Dens to the Oval Office: True Stories from my 38 Years Managing National Parks.
Steele is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast whose earliest memories include extended camping trips with his family. He parlayed his love of the outdoors into a career, earning a degree in urban and regional planning prior to his work with the Park Service. Steele became a management assistant at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and then a superintendent at Fort Scott National Historic Site. He later accepted positions as deputy superintendent at Rocky Mountain National Park and superintendent at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument and Curecanti National Recreation Area. He and his family relocated to Acadia National Park in 2003, where he worked as superintendent for 12 years before his retirement in 2015.
The memoir is full of anecdotes from Steele’s time at each park. Tips and information garnered from his years in park management are interspersed with amusing stories about visitors, managing wildlife and some interesting rescues. Some are personal; he fondly recalls leading his family on hikes throughout the Rocky Mountains and watching bull elk gather in the meadow outside their home. Other stories portray professional accomplishments and challenges such as navigating the relationship with concessioners at Acadia, and the experience of small-town living while working at Fort Scott. In one of his more memorable stories, Steele relates the tale of a not-quite-dead bear who jumps out of the trunk of the two nuns who accidentally hit him.
Throughout the book, Steele’s deep love for our country’s most treasured natural and cultural resources is very clear. He was inspired by his time with the national park service and his dedication to the protection of our national parks has stayed strong; all proceeds from Steele’s book will benefit the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, where Steele serves as an Executive Council Member.
From Bear Dens to the Oval Office, can be purchased here.