A well-traveled guide for Mammoth Cave
By Sandy Gladfelter from May 2014 Issue
Credit: National Park Service
Dave Wyrick's life is spiced with variety. From his hometown of Carlsbad, New Mexico, Wyrick has lived and worked from Washington State, to Washington, D.C.
In March, Wyrick dusted off his caving gear from his years at Carlsbad Caverns to begin his new position as the chief of the division of interpretation and visitor services at Mammoth Cave National Park.
Wyrick grew up not far from Carlsbad Caverns National Park. His grandfather was a state forest ranger on Cloudy Mountain in Oklahoma.
"As a kid, I loved to visit my grandfather and because of him I knew that I wanted to be a ranger someday," says Wyrick. He pursued and earned a degree in park administration at Eastern Washington University, in Cheney, Washington, in 1981. Following college, he found seasonal ranger employment with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
In 1983, Wyrick switched career gears and moved to Maryland, where he took a job in construction and worked his way up to the level of construction superintendent, building homes and subdivisions.
Wyrick's interest in parks resurfaced in 1991. He gave up construction and became a National Park Service interpretive ranger on the D.C. Mall, touring visitors through memorials, museums, and up and down the Washington Monument.
"I'm excited to work in a cave again," says Wyrick. "National park areas each present the challenge of helping the public experience and appreciate our national treasures in such a way that the treasure is well protected and preserved. It is the same here at Mammoth Cave. When visitors arrive, they may think our main attraction is just a big hole in the ground, so it's our job to help them see the intricacies of underground life and its dependence on the surface world. I haven't been caving since my years at Carlsbad. My hardhat and headlamp are ready to go."
Wyrick and his wife, Mary Ann, have a grown daughter Jessica, and two dachshunds, Lilly and Edward.