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Welcome to a new page on the EVRPD website. Each month, a District employee will be featured on this page. The employee may be new or they may be a seasoned worker, but they will always be someone with an interesting story about why they love working for the District.
Our current Employee Focus is Kevin Rohde, District Mechanic.
Have you ever watched the show I Dream of Genie? Jeannie, a genie that has been trapped in her bottle for more than 2,000 years, falls in love with Captain Tony Nelson, an astronaut with the U.S. Air Force after he sets her free from her bottle. The show was set in Cocoa Beach, Fla. where her “master” was stationed at nearby Patrick Air Force Base.
That same base was also the first place where Estes Valley Recreation and Park District’s new district mechanic, Kevin Rohde, had his first job during his 20 years and 11 days in the U.S. Air Force. The opening sequence for the show includes a shot of the building where Kevin worked.
During those 20 years, Kevin traveled to all corners of this planet. He has more stories to tell than some people twice his age.
Kevin grew up on a dairy farm outside of Barron, Wis., a little town in the northwest part of the state.
Three weeks after graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Air Force. They sent him to San Antonio for boot camp and then to Lowry Air Force base near Aurora, Colo. for an additional eight months of training. Then it was off to Florida.
After Florida, Kevin was moved to Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska, a big switch from the palm trees and ocean breezes of Florida.
“I enjoyed Alaska a lot,” said Kevin. “I flew to remote cabins 60 miles inside the arctic circle to work seismometers. I saw so much wildlife—lynx, bobcats, moose, caribou, black bear, grizzlies, arctic fox, eagles.”
From Alaska, Kevin moved to a base in Ohio. The next base was Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu.
“This was when I started doing all of my traveling,” said Kevin. “I went to Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Burma, Sri Lanka, China, Bangladesh, India, Korea, Guam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia.”
When asked by his chief master what he liked most about his job, Kevin replied, “Travel.”
“What do you like least?” “Travel.”
Kevin said that although he loved seeing so many fantastic places, the traveling was tough. While he was in Hawaii, his wife, whom he met Florida, had their only son. Being away from his wife and young son during the traveling was tough.
“I missed birthdays, first days of school, anniversaries,” said Kevin. “But I had so many stories from traveling too.”
As Kevin started thinking about what story he would share, he covered his eyes when he mentioned a trip to Sri Lanka. He mentioned something about a cell phone, moped and traveling in pairs in Bangladesh but didn’t elaborate.
“Not all of my stories can be shared but there were some amazing ones – good and bad,” said Kevin. “New Zealand was the nicest. China and Thailand are close behind in second and third. Everyone was so friendly in China and there was so much vibrant color.”
One of the highlights of Kevin’s travels was getting to hold an eight-month old panda cub in China. That would certainly top most people’s lists of great memories.
But after many years of working as a seismic analyst for monitoring nuclear treaties, testing underground weapons, maintaining seismic equipment in remote areas and a few data processing jobs, Kevin felt it was time to retire from military life.
His first job as a civilian was in an auto parts store in Texas where his wife had a great job with USAA. He transitioned into golf course maintenance for something different and then worked for Toro as a service technician.
But the heat of Texas was getting to him so he looked for other places to explore. Colorado came up frequently in his job search so he felt it was meant to be.
Kevin also has several relatives and friends that live in Colorado, including Steamboat Springs, Fort Collins, Longmont and a sister here in Estes Park.
“It will be good to move someplace where I know quite a few people,” said Kevin. “While my wife finishes up her MBA at Texas A&M University, I’ll be working on unpacking and getting settled in Colorado.”
For more information about EVRPD golf courses or to reach out to Kevin, visit www.evrpd.com.
Caitlin Dudley: Working hard for water safety
The Estes Valley Aquatics Center may have been closed since May for remodeling but Caitlin Dudley, Interim Aquatics Supervisor for Estes Valley Recreation and Park District (EVRPD), has been hard at work planning a new robust swimming program.
“My goal is to get everyone water safe,” said Caitlin Dudley. “It is an important factor in being around water, plus swimming is so good for you.”
Caitlin recently returned to work after a long weekend visiting her hometown in Huntsville, Ala. She was there for her ten-year high school reunion.
“Not much changed with the folks I went to high school,” said Caitlin. “A few were heavier, but most were the same; many had kids. But they all knew I was in Colorado.” Caitlin gave a big smile as if this move from Alabama was a big accomplishment for her.
Caitlin knew Colorado was where she wanted to be after visiting the area for the first time in 2013 to see a friend in Denver.
“He took me to Red Rocks on that visit,” said Caitlin. “I fell in love with [the area]. I loved that people were running up the stadium stairs at Red Rocks. I loved how everybody was active.”
It took a few years, but when the Aquatics Supervisor position opened here in Estes Park, she jumped at the chance to move from 899 feet to 7,500 feet in elevation.
Caitlin moved to Colorado in June 2016, when she was offered this position with EVRPD.
Her swimming career started after her older sister took up swimming; Caitlin is the youngest of four kids born to a mother from the Philippines and a father from Alabama.
“Once my dad saw how good swimming was for my sister, he enrolled all of us in lessons,” said Caitlin. “I started competitive swimming at five, and after a short break in my early teens, continued in high school. I knew a scholarship would be the only way I could afford to go to college so I put all my effort into it and went to states every year from eighth to twelfth grade.”
That thinking paid off because she was awarded a scholarship for swimming at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., where she was also an all-conference swimmer her freshman year in the 1650 and 1000-yard freestyle races.
But her swimming career as a competitive athlete was changed significantly after a car accident in her freshman year of college.
“I, along with two of my teammates and another friend, were in a serious car accident my freshman year of college,” said Caitlin. “My two teammates passed away and I spent three months in the hospital due to brain bruising and a broken back, neck, ribs, pelvis, right shoulder, left clavicle, and left tibia. But my mom pushed me through physical therapy and I was able to swim again my last two years of college.”
Caitlin overcame adversity and charged forward. She completed her degree in physical education and recreation in 2011, and started her recreation career coaching Division II college teams and at swimming clubs, and then transitioned into managing pools before landing the job with EVRPD.
“Now with EVRPD I have an opportunity to achieve some of my swimming goals, such as revamping the swim lessons program to build a feeder program into our new swim club,” said Caitlin. “I want all Estes Park kids to know how to swim; I want everyone to be water safe.”
Caitlin is excited for the remodel of the aquatics center and the addition of the community center because it will provide an opportunity to create the Estes Park Aquatics Club.
“We’ll have a wide variety of programs—from the master’s classes for adults 18 and older to an integrated kids club for competitive and non-competitive swimmers.”
Beyond swimming, Caitlin stays busy moving into her new home in Evans, Colo., where she lives with her boyfriend, Benjamin, and pit bull/bull dog mix named Rock. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, going to live sports, watching her favorite basketball team, the Memphis Grizzlies, but also enjoying her new local team, the Denver Nuggets, and being a diehard Alabama football fan.
“Roll Tide!” exclaimed Caitlin at the end of the interview, a reference to her support for Alabama football.
For more information about EVRPD swimming programs or to reach out to Caitlin, visit www.evrpd.com.
Jason Lykins: Tackling a Big Project
On July 17, Jason Lykins stepped into his new role for a newly created position for one of the newest buildings in Estes Park.
But it isn’t a building yet; it is still in the construction phase and that is why Jason is starting now.
Jason was hired by the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District as the Facilities Maintenance Supervisor for the new Estes Valley Community Center. Starting now, while the building is still a shell of its planned structure, will allow Jason to see the inner workings from the inside out every step of the way. The construction crew from Adolfson and Peterson Construction will also be able to teach him about everything going into the 70,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility.
“I am excited to be on the ground floor of the opening of the new community center,” said Jason. “Who could pass up an opportunity to work in a new building. It is going to be an amazing and really impressive facility.”
Jason grew up in the Bay Area outside of San Francisco, Calif. but also spent some of his youth in Colorado Springs and most recently lived in Florida.
While in Florida, he worked as a superintendent for a home builder but the company went bankrupt during the Great Recession.
“I was familiar with Estes Park because my family has a condo here,” said Jason. “That is what drew me back to Colorado.”
Coming back to Colorado during the recession meant it was tough to find a construction job so Jason applied his construction skills to property management positions. His first job in Estes Park was as the Facilities Manager for Rocky Mountain Resorts, a business that owns condos, cabins and vacation homes. Then he worked for Della Terra Mountain Chateau as the Maintenance Supervisor.
“I was excited about this position because of the fact I could use my skills in construction and be hands on,” said Jason. “I like that I will have ties to the community, be involved with the community and be a part of the recreation district.”
When asked what he was looking forward to doing at the facility, Jason said, “kind of everything but I am most excited about all of the technology going into the building.”
The community center will have a building automation system. Jason explained that this is a computer-based system that will monitor everything in the building through software on a laptop. If the heating system is due for inspection, the system will alert him. If the pool filter is clogged, the system will alert him. If the warranty is getting ready to expire on the smoke detectors, the system will alert him.
“It is a daunting task to pull this building together but it seems everyone I will work with has an awesome and impressive handle on their roles,” said Jason. “Their openness and willingness to teach has been wonderful.”
Jason has a strong passion for construction and building things; he recently remodeled a small camper—complete with new cedar siding—a friend gave him for free.
He feels the community center project is a great mix of construction and facility maintenance where he will get to use all of his skills and expertise while learning a little more about commercial construction, which has very different aspects compared to residential construction.
“I enjoy walking and working with all consultants on a project,” said Jason. “I enjoy the problem solving aspect of construction and working with my hands. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.”
It sounds like the accomplishment of EVRPD is getting Jason to join our team.
Outside of work, Jason enjoys camping and hiking but also dabbles in tubing. He currently lives in Estes Park with his girlfriend, two dogs and a cat.
For more information about the new Estes Valley Community Center, visit www.evrpd.com.
Austin has been playing golf at the Estes Park 18-Hole Golf Course since he was a toddler.
His Dad introduced him to the sport and gave him his first lessons until Austin’s first clinic at six years old. He participated every year, progressed into the junior golf program at the age of 9 and continued into weekly classes.
“I loved getting better and seeing results right away,” said Austin, Assistant Golf Professional for the Estes Park Golf Courses. “I felt like the more competitive spirit I had, the better I got.”
But as Austin entered high school, he decided he wanted to play football. That change in direction didn’t last long because he tore his ACL playing football during his freshman year of high school.
“My knee was reconstructed at age 14 so football was out,” said Austin. “I got back into golf and made the high school team my sophomore year.”
Austin played on the high school golf team for his remaining years of high school, where he went to states for two of the three years.
But other interests drew Austin away from golf again as he entered college at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Four years later, Austin found himself at yet another crossroads and golf again became the answer.
“I tried accounting for six months but found I didn’t want to be inside at a desk all day” said Austin. “I had worked at the golf course since 2004 in summer seasonal positions. Shortly after the 2013 flood, a position opened at the 18-hole course so I applied. I started my first full-time position with Estes Park Golf Courses in January 2014.”
Today, as the Assistant Golf Professional and a student in the PGA Certified Professional Program working towards his PGA A certification, Austin is the right-hand man to Mark Miller, Manager of Golf Services.
“I take on a wide-variety of daily tasks,” said Austin. “I organize tournaments, give lessons, help manage our staff, check people in, work with pass holders, manage the men’s and ladies clubs, manage handicaps, work in the pro shop, help with merchandising and organize marketing efforts.”
Austin’s immediate professional goals are to complete his PGA A certification, which takes three years. He hopes that will open new opportunities for him. He recognizes that the golf industry is facing heavy challenges but hopes that he can continue to give people a good time on the Estes Park golf courses.
“My role here really is to get as many people on the courses as possible, make sure they are having fun, and to make sure they are staying safe,” said Austin. “I want players to go home and tell their friends that our course was a really fun place to be. Our courses have never been in better shape, especially considering it is very tough to have green grass in an arid climate at high altitude. The courses are short but they are a good challenge and that is a great thing for Estes Park.”
Besides playing on the Estes Park golf courses, Austin dreams of playing the St. Andrews Golf Club in Scotland and Bethpage State Park Golf Course in Farmingdale, N.Y.
Outside of golf, Austin also dreams of getting married, having kids and teaching them golf just like his own Dad did for him.
For more information about EVRPD golf courses or to reach out to Austin, visit www.evrpd.com.
Nolan Oberg recently joined the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District as the Recreation Coordinator for Sports and Athletics but his roles within the District and with the Estes Valley community actually started four years ago.
Nolan comes to Estes Park by way of Berea, Kentucky, a small town located 113 miles southeast of Louisville in central Kentucky’s Blue Grass Region.
He first came to Colorado shortly after college to work at Peaceful Valley Resort near Estes Park. He met his wife there. He enthralled her with a first date at McDonald’s. She was smitten.
But a new job took him back to the southeast. This time he went to Louisiana to help residents of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in his new role with Reach Global Crisis Response, a long-term recovery group.
“An opportunity came up with Reach Global Crisis Response back in Colorado after the 2013 flood, and I jumped at the chance to return to Estes Park,” said Nolan. “My wife and I moved back here where I was now working as the volunteer coordinator for Larimer County through Reach Global Crisis Response. I worked as liaison between homeowners, volunteer groups and construction managers. It was a great job because I helped communities from Red Feathers to Bellevue to Big Elk Meadows.”
Between his moves from Colorado, Kentucky and Louisiana, Nolan and his wife, Anna, started a family. His three boys—Gabe, Harry and Boone, now 8, 6 and 4, respectively—were starting to get involved with sports and Nolan saw an opportunity to get back to his love of sports while spending time with his kids.
“I started with EVRPD in the fall of 2014 as the volunteer coach for soccer,” said Nolan. “My love for sports started as a child and then evolved in college where I worked at the Berea College Athletic Complex. After college, I joined the staff at Berea College, served on the athletics advisory committee and helped coach the school’s soccer team.”
His volunteer position with EVRPD bloomed into a part-time position as site supervisor for the baseball summer programs.
“I was still doing flood recovery at that time but that opportunity ended in late 2016 and the EVRPD position opened up in early 2017,” said Nolan. “I jumped at the chance to show how much I could bring to the recreation team.”
In his role as Recreation Coordinator, Nolan provides families and adults with recreational opportunities throughout the year with high-quality and fun experiences.
“There are lots of logistics and hats to wear—volunteer management, scheduling, programming, fundraising, marketing, public relations, web content management, customer service—but every day I feel like I get to use all of my skills,” said Nolan. “It’s really fun and the day flies by. Anybody can put bases down but to do it well you need lots of skills.”
In his new role with EVRPD, Nolan has plans to:
- Improve community outreach by taking recreation to the communities EVRPD serves, such as Big Elk Meadows, Drake, Glen Haven and Pinewood Springs
- Working with leaders of the Spanish-speaking population of Estes Valley to expand recreation opportunities
- Using recreation to build a sense of community through traditional and non-traditional sports
- Build outdoor recreation programs in partnership with local businesses
- Integration with other EVRPD departments for recreation programs
Nolan says he loves living in Estes Park and being a part of such a wonderful community.
“Every day I feel fortunate that I get to live here,” said Nolan. “There is beauty all around us, and that is something I don’t take for granted.”
Outside of work, Nolan and his family spend time hiking, camping and staying active with their church.
For more information about EVRPD recreation programs or to reach out to Nolan, visit www.evrpd.com.