CLINTON — Park Ranger Ben DeRoo loves working outdoors.
“I’ve always been an outdoor-orientated person,” Ben said. “Just as long as I’m outside in the fresh air.”
During his free time, Ben can be found out in a field, hunting pheasant and quail. In the spring and summer, he likes to go hiking and takes out his wife fishing.
Growing up in Rock Island, Ill., Ben never expected to go into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. While attending college, working on his bachelors of science in biology degree, he saw a posting for a student summer hire from the organization’s Muscatine office. He spent the next two summers as a seasonal hire.
Four years ago, Ben started as a park ranger at the Thomson, Ill., field office. The office is in charge of managing the six different recreation areas, two class A camp grounds, three boat ramps, picnic area and other property.
“We just make sure that we operate and maintain those parks,” Ben said.
Ben also was involved in planning today’s Eagle Watch with Pam Steinhaus from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Clinton Community College and the Steward of Upper Mississippi River. The 30th annual Eagle Watch will include events from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Lock and Dam 13 in Fulton, Ill., and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at CCC. When Ben took the position at the Thomson Field Office, planning the event came with it.
“It was kind of something I was just grandfathered into,” Ben said.
Ben enjoys the various programs held at CCC. This year, a live bald eagle will be on display for people to see and get their pictures with. The event also will feature Kickapoo Eagle Dancer Rudy Vallejo at 11:15 a.m.
“It’s always exciting to get a good program in as we try to rotate them through,” Ben said. “So the fact that people can come and they can sit down in the school auditorium and look at a live eagle and get their picture taken with one, I think that’s going to be a real exciting draw for this year.”